Q: I have often wondered how Iceland got its name. Of course the answer is obvious on the surface but I’m wondering why the ‘ice cream’ was advertised like that up front when there were many possible alternatives.
For example, given the volcanic origin of the island, it could not have been named “Fireland” (now I can imagine a completely ahistorical national name debate in the old Alþingi: the Fire Party is producing its best fire name. rhetoric, but the larger Ice Party is still undecided to name his new country Iceland!).
Perhaps the name was intended to discourage new settlers because the settlement was already considered large enough… or perhaps, as may be the case in many countries, like a snowball heading for a barn door, the name “Iceland” was simply thrown onto the newfound island and just stuck?
Sean in Northern Ireland
A: As stated in the answer to a previous question on the matter, Iceland is named by a Norwegian Viking named Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson.
According to Settlement (‘Landnámábókin’), Hrafna-Flóki sailed to Iceland from Norway with his family and livestock and planned to settle in the new country he had heard so much about.
He was called Hrafna-Flóki or Hrafn-Flóki, because he had three ravens with him on his journey to Iceland to help him get on his way.
It is believed that Hrafna-Flóki sailed ashore in Vatnsfjarðarfjörður on Barðaströnd, the southern coast of Vestfjörður, around AD 865.
Ancient remains of the house that Hrafna-Flóki is said to have built, Flókatóftir, are at the pier on Brjánslæk.
Vatnsfjord was rich in fish and the settlers were so busy fishing that they forgot to make hay for their livestock and other necessary preparations for the winter. Hrafna-Flók’s animals died as a result, and in the spring the settlers decided to leave the land.
Before leaving, Hrafna-Flóki went up to the mountains and saw that Vatnsfjörður was full of pack ice (other sources say that he was looking at Ísafjörður depth). He therefore named the country Ísland (“Ísland”) and it has been known as such ever since. Hrafna-Flóki later returned and became one of Iceland’s permanent settlers.
Before Hrafna-Flóki gave the land a name that stuck, two other Nordic sailors had also named it.
The first Norwegian to discover the country was Naddoddur Ástvaldsson from Norway. When he left, snow fell on the mountains, so he named the country Snæland (‘Snæland’).
Next after him came the Swedish Viking Garðar Svavarsson. After one winter in the North, he humbly named the land Garðarshólm after himself.
Another ancient name that has been associated with Iceland is Thule, first mentioned in the writings of the Greek explorer Pytheas in On the ocean of an area in the north. On the other hand, Thule may also apply to Greenland, Norway, Orkney, Shetland or Scandinavia.
I have heard your theory that Iceland was named Iceland to repel other settlers, while the name Greenland was intended to lure other settlers to the country in the past. It’s interesting, but I don’t know if there’s much truth to it.
There may not be much truth in the official story either, as Ægir Geirdal, an artist and scholar, objects in an article in The morning paper in the year 2000.
According to some written sources, Irish monks lived in the country before the Norse settlers came and drove them all away.
They were called paper and is referred to in some place names in Iceland, including the island of Papey off the Southeast, although there is no archaeological evidence for their stay there.
The Irish monk saint Brendan “the navigator” is said to have visited the country in the 6th century, long before the Norse settlers arrived, where he met the anchorman Póll (or Pál), who had lived in the country for 60 years or so. the story says.
Ægir wrote that St. Brendan was so touched by meeting Pól on Easter Sunday and hearing his stories about the beautiful land that he fell on his knees, declared the land holy and named it after his lord and savior Jesus, or Ís(s) )u on old gaelic
To support this theory, Ægir explains that in many other languages, such as French and German, the name Iceland has nothing to do with ice and cold, but is called Islande and Island (as opposed to Pays de Glace and Eisland).
This is because Irish monks were the main scholars and teachers at the court of kings in continental Europe in the first centuries after Iceland was settled by Norsemen, says Ægir.
As input into the naming debate, last year Promote Iceland launched a competition to rename Iceland as part of the latest marketing campaign Inspired by Iceland tourism.
Contrary to widespread misunderstandings in the foreign media, the competition is just for fun and will not lead to the actual renaming of the country.
The competition is more intended to encourage tourists to summarize their impressions of the country in one word or sentence and put forward their suggestions for names of Inspired by Iceland website along with the stories behind them.
Suggestions have been pouring in including Wonder Land, Endless Night Land, Best Country to Grow a Beard Land and Awesome Jumper Land and I believe I saw your suggestion Fireland in there too. But no one has suggested a Jesus country, as far as I know.