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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 01 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 647 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 01.
discovery made by the modern nations, of which any authentic record now remains, and was almost the only instance of the kind which occurred, from the commencement of the decline of the Roman power, soon after the Christian era, for nearly fourteen centuries.  And as the colonization of Iceland did not begin till A.D. 878, the insertion of this circumstance in the present place, can hardly be considered as at all deviating from the most rigid principles of our plan.

SECTION I

Discovery of Iceland by the Norwegians in the Ninth Century[1].

It were foreign to our present object to attempt any delineation of the piratical, and even frequently conquering expeditions of the various nations of Scandinavia, who, under the names of Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, and Normans, so long harassed the fragments of the Roman empire.  About the year 861, one Naddod, a Nordman or Norwegian vikingr, or chief of a band of freebooters, who, during a voyage to the Faro islands, was thrown by a storm upon the eastern coast of an unknown country, considerably beyond the ordinary course of navigation, to which he gave the significant name of Snio-land, or Snow-land, from the immense quantities of snow which every where covered its numerous lofty mountains, even in the height of summer, and filled its many valleys during a long and dreary winter.  As Naddod gave a rather favourable account of his discovery on his return to Norway, one Gardar Suafarson, of Swedish origin, who was settled in Norway, determined upon making an expedition to Snow-land in 864; and having circumnavigated the whole extent of this new discovery, he named it from himself, Gardars-holm, or Gardars-island.

Gardar employed so long a time in this expedition, that, not deeming it safe to navigate the northern ocean during the storms of winter, he remained on the island until the ensuing spring, when he sailed for Norway.  He there reported, that though the island was entirely covered with wood, it was, in other respects, a fine country.  From the favourable nature of this report, one Flocke, the son of Vigvardar, who had acquired great reputation among the Nordmen or Normans, as an experienced and intrepid vikingr or pirate, resolved to visit the newly-discovered island.  Flocke likewise wintered in the northern part of the island, where he met with immense quantities of drift ice, from which circumstance he chose to give it the name of Iceland, which it still bears.  He was by no means pleased with the country, influenced, no doubt, by the unfavourable impression he had imbibed by spending a long protracted winter on the dreary northern shore, amid almost ever-during arctic ice, and surrounded by the most unpromising sterility; and though some of his companions represented the land as pleasing and fertile, the desire of visiting Iceland seems, for some time, to have lain dormant among the adventurous Norwegian navigators; probably because neither fame nor riches could be acquired, either by traffic or depredation, in a country which was utterly destitute of inhabitants.

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