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Medeltida klostergrunder på Island - vegetation och flora, kultur och reliktväxter, samtida växtnamn

rapport från ett forskningsprojekt 2009-2011

Larsson, Inger and Åsen, Per Arvid and Kristjánsdóttir, Steinunn and Lundquist, Kjell (2012). Medeltida klostergrunder på Island - vegetation och flora, kultur och reliktväxter, samtida växtnamn. Alnarp, Sverige: (LTJ, LTV) > Landscape Architecture (until 121231), Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet. Landskap trädgård jordbruk : rapportserie ; 2012:12
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Abstract

Icelandic medieval monastic sites – vegetation and flora, cultural- and relict plants,
contemporary plant-names

The colonization of Iceland began in the late 9th century and in the year 1000 the Althing chose
Christianity to replace paganism as the religion of the country. The bishopric of Skálholt was
established in 1056 and Hólar in 1106. There are traces of twelve to fifteen monasteries, of which nine
are recognized as having lasted for some time. Of these only Skriðuklaustur has been fully excavated,
exhibiting a European building model. Viðeyjarklaustur and Kirkjubaejarklaustur have been partly
excavated not revealing any specific monastic buildings as yet. Archaeobotanical investigations have
only been undertaken on Viðey and at Skriðuklaustur. The exact localisation of the monastic buildings,
or possible monastic cultivation. are only presumptions at all other places, as is the type of
monastic building, whether traditional Icelandic farm type or continental monastery building type. The
questions that this project seeks to answer are which cultivated plants on the whole, and garden plants
in particular, were known and used in the medieval Icelandic monastic context, and whether it is
possible to find medieval relict plants in connection with the Icelandic monastic sites.

All monastic sites were surveyed for landscape and plants, and complete lists of the plants found are
published in Bilaga 1. Medicinal, utility and ornamental plants, known in Iceland and abroad, have
been recorded, but their status as true medieval monastic relict plants cannot be fully determined at
this stage of research. The very special conditions in which a hitherto uninhabited island was
colonized in some hundred years by people bringing and adapting their knowledge of farming,
cultivating and using plants for both utility and pleasure led inevitably to a situation where common
knowledge became integrated with the specific uses of plants and plant medicine in a monastic
context. Many of the plants found today, such as Angelica, Alchemilla, Allium, Filipendula, Plantago
or Sanguisorba have a medieval past as medicinal herbs. We cannot, however, establish for sure
whether some of these plants’ properties were not common knowledge to the Icelanders of the Middle
Ages but were specific monastic plants.

The Icelandic monastic sites, as well as all Iceland, are today dominated by farming leaving little
space for herbs to grow and survive. There are however traces of deliberate use and possibly
cultivation of plants at Skriðuklaustur and Viðeyjarklaustur, although more archaeobotanical evidence
from monastic sites is needed as well as an archeological search for traces of cultivation. This is
required not only at these two sites but at all monastic sites in Iceland.

Medieval plant-names tell us little since most of the medico-botanical literature are translations of the
Dane Henrik Harpestræng’s works. The Icelandic laws, another source for plant-names, are heavily
influenced by Norwegian law and therefore may only be used with caution for the documentation of
Icelandic matters. Later historic plant-names, however, reveal many interesting details about the local
use of some plants, although some of these names are loans from or translations of Scandinavian or
German names and may not reveal anything about their local Icelandic use.

Authors/Creators:Larsson, Inger and Åsen, Per Arvid and Kristjánsdóttir, Steinunn and Lundquist, Kjell
Title:Medeltida klostergrunder på Island - vegetation och flora, kultur och reliktväxter, samtida växtnamn
Subtitle:rapport från ett forskningsprojekt 2009-2011
Series/Journal:Landskap trädgård jordbruk : rapportserie (1654-5427)
Year of publishing :2012
Number:2012:12
Number of Pages:160
Place of Publication:Alnarp, Sverige
Publisher:Dept. of Landscape Architecture, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
ISBN for printed version:978-91-87117-11-4
ISSN:1654-5427
Language:Swedish
Publication Type:Report
Full Text Status:Public
Agris subject categories.:B Geography and history > B50 History
F Plant production > F70 Plant taxonomy and geography
H Protection of plants and stored products > H01 Protection of plants - General aspects
Subjects:Obsolete subject words > FORESTRY, AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES and LANDSCAPE PLANNING > Plant production > Horticulture
Obsolete subject words > FORESTRY, AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES and LANDSCAPE PLANNING > Landscape planning > Landscape architecture
Obsolete subject words > FORESTRY, AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES and LANDSCAPE PLANNING > Landscape planning > Nature conservation and landscape management
Obsolete subject words > HUMANITIES and RELIGION > History and philosophy ResearchSubjectCategories > Archaeology ResearchSubjectCategories > Archaeology, medieval
Obsolete subject words > HUMANITIES and RELIGION > Languages and linguistics > Scandinavian languages > Swedish language
Keywords:Icelandic monasteries, medieval gardening, relict plants, historic plant-names, medicinal plants, utility plants, ornamental plants
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-e-611
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-e-611
ID Code:9033
Department:(LTJ, LTV) > Landscape Architecture (until 121231)
External funders:Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry
Deposited By: Anna Jakobsson
Deposited On:11 Sep 2012 07:10
Metadata Last Modified:02 Dec 2014 10:51

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