Ken's Skagafjordur Archaeological Settlement Survey Journal

Drifting North
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Yesterday was coldest yet, with rain in the morning and moderate north wind all day. Regular troweling and shoveling the whole time. Nothing of interest to report.

Day off today.

Both directors had decided to pay for and attend a "driftwood workshop" under the auspices of a local college's tourism and cultural heritage management department. At the last moment they said they would pay for and take along one other person who wanted to go. It was just myself and one or two others up that early (most having drunk themselves into a stupor after staying up late) so I jumped at the chance.

We drove up north a bit to a farm, which has a large supply of Siberian timber drifting on to its shorelines, where a class of 12 people had assembled. This so-called workshop disappointed us. We had been hoping to see guys practicing the old ways of making boards from logs, with axe and adze, or otherwise crafting things from the driftwood.

Instead, all we did was use chisels and mauls to split the logs, then quarter them. We each did this about 3-4 times, with easy-to-split wood, and moving to harder and bigger logs each time. We had a nice home-cooked lunch after, and much sitting around and talking. All of the instruction and meal talk was Icelandic, but one of the directors knows enough to translate for us other two.

At one point, while there, we stood near an apparent tern nesting area. While trying to get some photos of them, one defender actually hit me on the hit with beak or claw. Just a whack, really, so no harm done.

During most of Iceland's history, driftwood served many roles, since early settlers cut down all native trees and allowed their livestock to overgraze on any that might have sprouted. Bishoprics and chiefs claimed driftwood rights along huge tracts of shoreline. It's still an important resource for farmers' fenceposts and other building materials.

This little trip set my personal northness record, now at a little past 60 degrees north latitude.

Terns on Siberian pine driftwood.

This one missed.

Even kiddie playhouses have turf roofs here!

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