Thingvellir, Iceland - Thingvellir National Park; Boston, MA - The John Adams Courthouse
Thingvellir National Park is a beautiful historic site in Iceland about fifty kilometers outside of Reykjavík, the capital city of Iceland. It was originally the location of the Althing, Iceland’s central location for law and order that was established by Vikings who settled there hundreds of years ago. The Althing has since been relocated to Reykjavík for a more modernized government, however, Iceland’s government is still referred to as the Althing.
Thingvellir is now regarded as a National Park and historical site. This is due to the importance of this location and its relation to the history of Iceland becoming its own nation, with its own parliament, set of laws, and traditions. Even furthermore, this was one of the first locations of its type: “The Althing (Parliament), a supreme court of legislature and laws in the land, is held there; it is the oldest one in the world, founded on the Mount of Laws at Thingvellir, 930” (Magnusson 435). This need for parliament arose because Iceland was populated by a seafaring nation, the Vikings. A group of these people at one point had no land to call their own. This changed as outlined in Erik the Red’s Saga: “Afterwards Aud set out to seek Iceland, having twenty free men in her ship. Aud came to Iceland, and passed the first winter in Bjarnarhofn (Bjornshaven) with her brother Bjorn. Afterwards she occupied all the Dale country between the Dogurdara (day-meal river) and the Skraumuhlaupsa (river of the giantess’s leap), and dwelt at Hvamm” (“Erik the Red's Saga” 654). Aud then had crosses erected symbolizing the new land becoming Christian, and many wealthy Vikings as well as those fleeing from their crimes came to reside in Iceland. This brings about the need for a government and set of laws for this new nation of people. Hence Thingvellir and the Althing was founded as a location of Vikings to make laws.
This is why a local historical site that can be connected to Thingvellir is the John Adams Courthouse in Boston. While it may not be a beautiful Icelandic national park, it is the original location of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Court of Appeals. This building was recently renovated and renamed as it was formerly known as the Suffolk County Courthouse, originally built in 1893. It was the location for the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts well over 100 years ago. The Supreme Court is a building made for the public; it was originally created for the need for law and order in Suffolk County and unified the area.
Thingvellir has the same sort of effect on the people visiting this historic site and has always had this effect amongst Icelanders as the following quote notes: “[B]y staging the drama in the place which is so often seen as the symbolic center of the Icelandic nation, the place where history meets nature, people and parliament declared openly their union with the past” (Halfdanarson 8). This notes the connection between the history of Iceland and how Thingvellir effected the growth of the country. The same can be said for the John Adams Courthouse, as when it was originally built in Suffolk County, it helped unify the State and created law and order in Massachusetts as a whole.
Hálfdanarson, Guðmundur. “Þingvellir: An Icelandic ‘Lieu De Mémoire’” History and Memory, vol. 12, no. 1, 2000, pp. 4–29. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/his.2000.12.1.4.
Loeffler, Jane C. "The Importance of Openness in an Era of Security." Architectural Record, vol. 194, no. 1, Jan. 2006, pp. 81-83. EBSCOhost, web.fitchburgstate.edu:2443/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=19556558&site=ehost-live
Magnusson, Kristjan H. “Iceland -- The Land of Ice And Fire." The American Magazine of Art, vol. 21, no. 8, 1930, pp. 435–438. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23931815.
Accessible Description of Image(s)
Description by: Elrik Iarson, Student, Fitchburg State University