In a geological rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates the Vikings of Iceland made their parliament (in old Norse: Thing). In an area known as Þingvellir (pronounced as 'thing-vet-lier') the parliament was founded in 930AD, 54 years after Iceland was first settled by Norse and Celtic people. As the population grew there was a need for a bigger and national assembly beyond the local assemblies that had formed to pass local laws.
Þingvellir National Park (Source: Diego Delso, Wikipedia)
Around 930AD Grímur Geitskör was tasked with finding a place to hold this new assembly. At the same time the land around Þingvellir was declared public land after the owner was found guilty of murder. The land was then given over to hold assemblies on as a punishment, this also included the allowance of building of temporary dwellings and the forest to used for kindling and grazing horses for the people gathering for the parliament. The land was also perfect for assemblies as it was in the most populace area of the north, south, and west of Iceland and the furthest any goði (chieftain) had to travel was 17 days to get there.
The continental plates at Þingvellir (Source: halofour.com)
The first parliament was held at Þingvellir in 930AD and continued until 1271, making it the oldest parliament in the world. A law speaker was elected and held the position for three years, during which time laws were passed and approved at Þingvellir. Not everyone was equal in the proceedings, only certain people had full rights, but everyone could watch the parliament in session. The law speaker stood on the law-rock and addressed the crowds. Today, the national park of Þingvellir is a popular tourist destination, being close to Reykjavik, so you can stand in the footsteps of the original Viking lawgivers today!
The Law Giver at Þingvellir (Source: Wikipedia)
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