All photos by Ferdinand Bart Alst.
Flatøyboka is a world treasure. It is the largest medieval manuscript produced in Iceland,
and it is also a beautiful work of art. It preserves poems, sagas, stories, and information found nowhere else.
Since 2012, we have been working to preserve and disseminate the Norse saga heritage through the translation and publication of Flateyjarbok, a unique saga text preserved in only one copy in Iceland. Our ongoing work to translate and publish the text both in Norwegian (completed in 2018) and in English (estimated completion 2020) allows readers and scholars who don't read old Norse to finally be able to study this remarkable text in its entirety for the first time.
When most people hear the word «Saga», they immediately think about Vikings, the Viking civilization being one of the most misunderstood historical periods of the ancient world. Although the sagas are considered treasures of the world’s literary heritage, we rarely hear about the sagas as political literature, yet they are a profound depository of spirituality, myth, political philosophy, wisdom and world class poetry.
In that respect, Flateyjarbok is the one saga that contains the richest palette of all. Whereas most sagas are classified as King’s sagas, legendary sagas etc., Flateyjarbok contains all combined in one lavish narrative covering 500 years of the most dramatic eras Northern Europe has seen, including the Vikings’ foray into North America around the year 1000. Flateyjarbok is the first place where the Vinland-saga was complied in its entirety.
This is a book that belongs to the world. It is a part of our common human heritage. Since 2012 we have been working to preserve this treasure for posterity.