On the initiative of the Farmers’ Union in Iceland, the Icelandic parliament Althingi passed a bill (Act 58/1915) in 1915 on measuring hayfields and vegetable gardens on Icelandic farms. A regulation was later put in place to further develop these plans. The regulation stated that all hayfields and vegetable gardens outside urban areas should be measured and mapped on a scale of 1:2000. As it turned out, for some of the maps in the eastern part of Iceland a scale of 1:1000 was used. The size of hayfields was to be indicated in hectares (ha), while the size of vegetable gardens should be given in square meters.
The Government Offices of Iceland decided which kind of paper to use as well as its size, which was 38 x 56 cm. In some cases the maps made were just half that size or even smaller.
The maps are usually clear and informative. While some of them show genuine artistic skills on behalf of the mapmakers, others are much simpler in form. More than 5,500 maps from 205 districts are preserved at the National Archives of Iceland.
The biggest part of the project was completed by 1920, although the final maps were made as late as 1929.