Updated: Jan 15, 2020
Today, we focus on key steps for finding and visiting the farms of our ancestors. In the last two posts, we explored Icelandic place names, from both a historical and modern perspective, so we can better understand our ancestral farms and places. Of course, a better understanding of places and how to find them prepares us for the very best part - visiting them!!
Exploring our genealogy through the Icelandic Roots database and the wealth of information found there is a fascinating and highly rewarding endeavor. When time and resources allow, an essential component of our genealogy journey should be to visit the farms and parishes in Iceland where our ancestors lived, worked and worshipped. The experience of walking the land and seeing the same fields and mountains as one's ancestors is quite moving and creates cherished memories and photos.
There are many travel and tourism related resources available for Iceland so we will focus on ancestral sites for now. Here are some key steps for finding and visiting them:
Explore your family tree in the Icelandic Roots database. Please join if you have not done so already. Look for birth, death, marriage, and emigration locations. Print out the most relevant tree pages for reference.
Check the locations from step 1 for geographic coordinates. Many are geotagged in the IR database and the IR volunteer team adds more every week. Use the tools from Understanding Icelandic Places parts I and II to identify the regions of Iceland you want to visit. Members can ask IR support for assistance if there is sufficient lead time before a trip.
Incorporate your ancestral sites into your trip planning. Buy a big paper map of Iceland and circle all the places you might visit in colored marker. Choose different colors for categories such as lodging, attractions and ancestral sites.
Prioritize your choices, based on time, budget, distance and expected travel conditions. Be sure to allow time to stop for photos, coffee and just to soak in the natural beauty of Iceland.
Create a list of geographic coordinates for all your planned stops. You can use them in your GPS or smart phone. Even better, you can create a custom trip map in Google Maps and use your smart phone to navigate right to them!
Most farms (and even many abandoned farms) have signs that identify them. (such as in the photo above) If you get the opportunity to speak with the current owners, your family tree printouts can be very helpful in explaining who you are and why you are visiting. (especially for those of us lacking much knowledge of Icelandic) Many of the historic parishes also have active congregations and small churches can be found throughout the country.
That's it. Just go and explore. Meet some Icelandic cousins and have fun! Of course, it is considerably easier if you already live in Iceland. Your challenge is to come visit us in North America!