Driftwood

Undoubtedly the settlers at Strandir saw large piles of timber when they first arrived on the coasts. During the first centuries driftwood is rarely mentioned in documents. But the values were obvious and the most powerful men would have realized the great value of the timber on the shores. Little was known until early in the 18th century when a comprehensive survey of all the farms in Iceland mentions driftwood as a commodity. 

As a result the people of Strandir were renowned for their craftsmanship making the handiwork a big part of the tenants income. We know of sailings across Húnaflói Bay and to the parliament at Þingvellir to sell their products, mostly small barrels, dishes, spoons and other things.

Old terms for different types of wood are not always clear and there was even an old belief that some of it grew on the bottom of the northern sea. Recent studies on dendrochronology tell us that most of the trunks come from the big rivers in eastern Siberia, get stuck in the polar ice and drift out between Greenland and Spitzbergen. The poles are mainly pine, spruce and larch but some pieces come from Northern Canada.

Magnús Rafnsson historian