such a house as this built in the beginning of the eleventh century could not have stood five hundred years before its roof and the upper parts of the walls fell down.
On the other side of the road we found an end of an old path paved with small stones, running from the house in the hillside along the edge of the old river bank down to a kind of promontory which in olden time, when the water stood much higher than it now does, seems to have served as a landing place. In the middle of this path, which was from about six to ten inches under the surface, was a hollow as trodden down by the feet of men and (perhaps) horses. This path is very like Icelandic paths, such as may still be found in many places in Iceland. But as we in some places in this path found some bricks between the stones which formed its pavement, it must be regarded as doubtful whether it is Scandinavian. The bricks seem rather to speak for a post-Columbian origin, though the whole path is so primitive that it hardly can be suggested that so advanced a people as the first post-Columbian colonists should have made such a path. To settle the question whether it could belong to those colonists must be left to American scholars. This path seems, at any rate, to have been made by the same people who built the house in the hillside, so either both of them must be regarded as post-Columbian or they both are Scandinavian. Another path runs from this landing place in a westerly direction along the old river bank, where it stops very abruptly on a certain spot a very short distance east of the supposed "Thorfinn's house." As I could not find any other reason for its stopping on this spot than that near it stood a building, I examined the river bank beside it, and here I found the earth, about eight inches under the surface, mixed with charcoal, which could indicate that some refuse from a house had been thrown there. This seems to lead to the conclusion that there at the end of this path really has stood a building, of which we could not now expect to find any traces, or even a building constructed of turf only (turf walls), which also might have wholly disappeared, as earth walls on an elevated ground like this perhaps might have blown away.
The result of these researches is briefly, according to my opinion, this: As far as concerns the construction, both the house in the hillside and the two paths, or the two branches of the path, could be of Scandinavian origin, but I am not so well acquainted with the life and customs of the first post-Columbian colonists as to be able to decide whether they could not have been made by them. This, therefore, must be left to American scholars. Very respectfully yours,
|Cambridge, July 16, 1896.|
From Mr. Erlingsson's Report.
It is not uncommon in Iceland that houses, especially small out-houses, are dug into small hills, hillsides, or sloping ground, just as this house is. It is, in fact, built very like what I have seen in outhouses in many places in Iceland, and what is left of the walls here nobody could distinguish from Icelandic walls. The size and the whole form is also very like an outhouse, but as most frequently in outhouses either all the four walls are made of stones or none of them, it would seem strange that one of the walls here is completely wanting. But those stones which