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Hver skóp Þingvelli sem sögulegt minnismerki?.

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Árið 1798 var síðasta starfsár Alþingis á Þingvöllum. Næstu tvö ár starfaði það í Hólavallarskóla í Reykjavík en var síðan lagt niður samkvæmt konungsúrskurði. Þegar þinghaldið hætti að vera lifandi veruleiki sköpuðustu nýjar forsendur til að þróa Þingvelli sem sögulegt minnismerki. Í þessari grein er kannað hvernig sú þróun hófst á fyrri hluta nítjándu aldar og lögð sérstök áhersla á tvær breskar ferðabækur, Travels in the Island of Iceland eftir George Steuart Mackenzie og Iceland, or the Journal of a Residence in that Island eftir Ebenezer Henderson. Í báðum þessum ritum er rætt af ástríðu um sögulegt gildi Þingvalla og mikilvægi staðarins fyrir íslenska þjóðernisvitund. Dregið er fram með hvaða hætti hugmyndir Mackenzies og Hendersons kallast á við skrif Finns Magnússonar og Baldvins Einarssonar um þessi efni frá öðrum og þriðja áratugnum og bergmáluðu svo áfram í skrifum Fjölnismanna á fjórða og fimmta áratugnum. Þá eru skrif Bretanna tengd valdaráni Jörundar hundadagakonungs á Íslandi sumarið 1809 og pólitísku sambandi Danmerkur og Bretlands á tímabilinu.
Who Moulded Þingvellir into a Historical Monument? The last year in which the Althing, or Icelandic parliament, operated at Þingvellir was 1798. For the next two years, it met at Hólavellir School in Reykjavík, but was then abolished. When the Althing sessions were no longer a living aspect of Þingvellir, there existed a new pretext for turning the site into a historical monument. The article deals with this development over the first half of the 19th century, with particular emphasis on two British travel books: Travels in the Island of Iceland (1811), by George Steuart Mackenzie, and Iceland, or the Journal of a Residence in that Island (1818), by Ebenezer Henderson. These authors write passionately on the significance of Þingvellir, both in history and for Icelandic national identity, thereby contrasting with the British travellers who had written on Iceland during the period between 1772 and 1809. Furthermore, the article delves into the thoughts and writings of Icelanders who were contemporary to Mackenzie and Henderson, exploring in particular how the ideas of the British authors on Þingvellir harmonise with those of Finnur Magnússon and Baldvin Einarsson in the 1810s and ‘20s. The attitudes of these Icelanders, as Sveinbjörn Rafnsson recently observed, were reflected in the gripping Þingvellir poems of the romantic poet Jónas Hallgrímsson, which he composed in the 1830s and ’40s. In closing, the article points out that the nationalistic sentiments evident in Mackenzie and Henderson’s writings may have been influenced by the tensions of the time in Danish-British relations, as well as by a coup d’état attempted in Iceland in 1809. Still, the article admits that there is no simple answer to the question: Who was responsible for moulding Þingvellir into a historical monument? There was a long tradition in European discussions linking history, nationality and natural settings, and some of these ideas might even date back to images of the Althing meeting grounds in Icelandic medieval literature.