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History

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Older Cemeteries of Reykjavík
The history of Icelandic cemeteries dates from the beginnings of Christianity in this country - a thousand years ago when the nation formally adopted Christian beliefs.
 
The Cemetery at Laugarnes

Ruins of the bishopric at Laugarnes

Reykjavík's first cemetery was on the peninsula Laugarnes, where one can still observe the position of the walls. No one knows when the graveyard was first used; however, some consider that Hallgerður Höskuldsdóttir, associated with long pants in the Icelandic sagas of a millenium ago, is buried here. In any case, she probably spent the last part of her life at Laugarnes, and much later, the seat of the national bishop remained here for several years.


The last burial took place in 1871, when six French sailors died here of smallpox. Having been quarantined at the old bishopric, they were buried at the former cemetery rather than risk contagion during transport from this then rural spot towards the growing town farther west. In 1794 the church here was torn down and the congregation formally joined to Reykjavík.

Nes at Seltjörn
Once a church was kept here, but was torn down in 1797, at the same time as the old church by the street Aðalstræti, now in downtown Reykjavík. The congregation was then also unified with that of Reykjavík.
On the Island Engey
Ruins still show from the old graveyard. The church here was not a full-fledged one, and around 1500 or later was joined to the church at nearby Laugarnes.
Breiðholt
This was the site of a church and cemetery. Those who have been introduced to the place can still perceive the position of the graveyard.
 Hólmur
This minor church and accompanying cemetery, the walls of which yet show on a hill to the east, were discontinued during the Black Death.
The Cemetery on Viðey
In 1988, this former cemetery was placed under supervision of the United Cemeteries of Capital Area Churches.
Víkurgarður, the Cemetery by Aðalstræti
 

Víkurgarður by Aðalstræti

Soon after the national adoption of Christianity, which occurred at the ancient parliamentary grounds of Þingvellir in the year 1000, a church was in all likelihood built here, beside the original residence of Reykjavík's settler and leader. Probably Þormóður, son of Þorkell máni, had the church built in front of his house. The church was surrounded by a graveyard and stood at the corner of the current streets Aðalstræti and Kirkjustræti.


Named Víkurgarður, the cemetery later received the appellation of Fógetagarður, or graveyard of the magistrates. This was Reykjavík's cemetery for over 800 years, though only 40 x 80 metres. By the time burials ceased in 1838, some thirty generations of Reykjavík citizens had found a final resting place here.