ancient seat of the Icelandic bishops, Skalholt, was the
centre of ecclesiastic and worldly power, culture, and
education for centuries. The first of 32 catholic bishops
took his seat there in 1056 and in the wake of the
reformation in 1540 13 Lutheran bishops sat there
until 1801, when the seat was
moved to the capital. The country became
one see again in 1798. The northern see was
established in 1106.
Most of the few
artefacts preserved from the older churches of Skalholt are kept in the National
Museum in Reykjavik. Late in the 18th century some books were printed
at Skalholt, among them the first one in the Icelandic language.
historic traces are the ruins of a fortress for the
defence of the place, constructed in 1548, a monument stands on the spot,
where the last catholic bishop and his two sons were
beheaded in 1550, a cairn originally built by the students
of the school in the past has been reconstructed and a part
of the sub terrain walk between the churches, the school and
the dwellings of the bishops has been reconstructed as well.
Many topographical names in the area are tightly connected with
historical events. The former churches, 10 of them altogether, were
built of unendurable material, wood. At least two of them were much
larger than the present one (consecrated in 1963), two were consumed
by fire, and other two were destroyed by bad weather. During the
excavation for the foundations of the present church, a stone coffin
of bishop Pall Jonsson (†1211) was discovered and is now on display
in the church's cellar. There has been a school in Skalholt from the
beginning and nowadays its buildings are used as a hotel in summer.
Two Icelandic female artists, both deceased, decorated the church
(stained windows and the altarpiece).
SKALHOLT HISTORICAL TRAIL