History

Grímsey has been inhabited since the Viking settlement of Iceland. Its abundant resources of fish and birds were widely renowned. A legend ties the name of the island to a settler named “Grimur” who sailed from the “Sogn” district in Norway, but there may be other explanations for the name which also occurs in Scandinavia and the UK.

The first recorded telling of Grímsey is dated to the summer 1024 in the Heimskringla (one of the old sagas) where it is told how King Ólafur of Norway asked for the island as a gift in exchange for his friendship.  The Icelanders rejected the idea as Grímsey was a valuable resource of food; it could feed a whole army and should rather benefit the locals.

After Christianity was introduced in Iceland, Grímsey was owned by monasteries on the northern mainland and the island’s farmer tenants had to pay them the annual rent in dried cod.

In the late 18th century it seemed that the community was fated to die out, since most of the men expired by pneumonia or accidents at sea. The population did though survive. The land on the island is now owned by locals, the town of Akureyri and the Icelandic state.

Click here to see a sign about Grímsey history

Last updated 28. August 2015