Eystein’s Shipwreck Settlement In Iceland

A Norwegian named Eystein decided to sail to Iceland during the so-called Age of Settlement period (c. 860-930). His father had been a figure with the impressive name of Thorstein Rock-Man, and their ancestral land had been in the Halogaland region of northern Norway. Eystein’s motivations for relocating are unknown, but for whatever reason, he packed up as much as he could onto a ship and sailed to Southern Iceland, approaching the coastline not far to the east of Reynisfjara Beach. Yet, Eystein’s ship never reached shore, and he had a rocky start to his new life in Iceland—or, rather, a watery start.

Eystein, so the story goes, experienced a problem with his ship as he was pulling in toward the Icelandic coastline. Specifics are not known, but his ship suffered catastrophic damage, causing heavy timbers from the vessel to fall in the form of dangerous debris. As the medieval Icelandic Book of Settlements (Landnámabók) briefly reported, “He was shipwrecked and was injured by the timber” (LandnámabókSturlubók manuscript, chapter 330). Thankfully, Eystein must have inherited some of his father’s Rock-Man physique, so he shrugged off the wound and was able to successfully reach shore. Despite losing all of his belongings, Eystein was able to slowly but surely recover, eventually building a home for himself and settling down to live a quiet life.

Written by C. Keith Hansley

Picture Attribution: (cropped section of an Image labeled Fotoreproductie van (vermoedelijk) een prent genaamd The Sailor Boy’s Dream of Home, anonymous, c. 1850 – c. 1870 , [Public Domain] via Creative Commons and the Rijksmuseum).



  • The Book of Settlements (Sturlubók version), translated by Hermann Pálsson and Paul Edwards. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1972, 2006.

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