Ingólfr Arnarson[a] and his wife, Hallveig Fróðadóttr and together with his brother Hjörleifr, are commonly recognized as the first permanent Norse settlers of Iceland. According to tradition, they founded Reykjavík in 874.
According to Landnáma (The Icelandic Book of Settlements), he built his homestead in and gave name to Reykjavík in 874. (However, archaeological finds in Iceland suggest settlement may have started somewhat earlier.) The medieval chronicler Ari Þorgilsson said Ingólfr was the first Nordic settler in Iceland, but mentioned that "Papar" – i.e. Irish monks and hermits – had been in the country before the Norsemen. He wrote that they left because they did not want to live amongst the newly arrived Norse pagans.
Landnáma (written two to three centuries after the settlement) contains a long story about Ingólfr's settlement. The book claims he left Norway after becoming involved in a blood feud. He had heard about a new island which Garðar Svavarsson, Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson and others had found in the Atlantic Ocean. With his step-brother Hjörleifr Hróðmarsson, he sailed for Iceland. When land was in sight, he threw his high seat pillars (a sign of his being a chieftain) overboard and promised to settle where the gods decided to bring them ashore. Two of his slaves then searched the coasts for three years before finding the pillars in the small bay which eventually became Reykjavík (located in South Western Iceland).
In the meantime, Hjörleifr had been murdered by his Irish slaves because of his ill-treatment of them. Ingólfr hunted them down and killed them in Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands). The islands got their name from that event, but vestmenn (west men) is a name that Norse men at this time sometimes used for Irishmen. Ingólfr was said to have settled a large part of southwestern Iceland, but after his settlement nothing more was known of him. His son, Torstein (Þorsteinn Ingólfsson), was a major chieftain and was said to have founded the first thing, or parliament, in Iceland. It was a forerunner of the Althingi.
His name Ingólfr means "aristocratic wolf", which would be translated as "royal or kingly wolf."
- "Ingólfur Arnarson - The First Icelander". sagamuseum.is. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
- "Ingolfr Arnarson". nrk.no. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
- Jon Gunnar Jørgensen. "Ingólfr Arnarson Bjǫrnólfsson Ingolv Ørnss". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
- "Ingólfr Arnarson". Store norske leksikon. Retrieved January 20, 2016.