Viking and medieval settlement in the faroes: People, place and environment

  • Arge S
  • Sveinbjarnardóttir G
  • Edwards K
 et al. 
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Abstract

Apart from the possible, but unproven presence of some Irish hermits,
the Norse colonizers of the Faroe Islands arrived in an unsettled
landscape around A. D. 800. The archipelago was essentially unwooded and
rich in bird and marine life. The area of land suitable for settlement
and farming was relatively meagre and concentrated in coastal areas;
inland areas were suitable for shielings ( summer pasture) and
subsequently more extensive grazing ( outfield) activities.
Reconstruction of the settlement distribution has not been a well-
developed aspect of Faroese historical study. Using archaeological and
documentary evidence, we are able to present the first comprehensive
distribution map of Norse settlement, which emphasizes an overwhelmingly
coastal focus of considerable density. Using historical ( including
place- names), archaeological, and environmental evidence, we examine
the nature and organization of the Viking ( early Norse) and medieval (
later Norse) settlement. Colonization and economic activity in the
islands were strongly influenced by topographic and ecological factors.
This, along with social organization, was subject to influences which
may have derived, at least in part, from experiences in a Norwegian
homeland.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Agriculture
  • Faroe islands
  • Norse
  • Settlement distribution
  • Viking

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Authors

  • Símun V. Arge

  • Guorún Sveinbjarnardóttir

  • Kevin J. Edwards

  • Paul C. Buckland

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