The site of the Icelandic general assembly at Þingvellir has long been at the center of assembly research. Over the past few decades in particular, archaeologists have criticised the antiquarian investigations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The criticism was directed at the methods used at the time to pinpoint assembly sites and to identify their architectural components, such as booths and court-circles. However, it is also important to take a critical approach to the question of what actually took place at Þingvellir. After Iceland became independent, a period of nationalistic historiography set in, during which it was stated that Þingvellir was not only the place for the general assembly but also the greatest market place in Iceland. This paper presents the results of a systematic study of written and archaeological sources to put to the test the premise of a large-scale market at Þingvellir. Written and archaeological evidence for economic activities are faint and ambiguous. On the basis of this it is argued that there was probably not a market zone within the assembly area and that trade only took place there at a limited scale, barely exceeding necessary levels for provisioning..
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Vol. 8 • No. sp8