Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The Vikings were not the first colonizers of the Faroe Islands

Date:
August 20, 2013
Source:
Durham University
Summary:
The Faroe Islands were colonized much earlier than previously believed, and it wasn't by the Vikings, according to new research.

The research was carried out on an archaeological site at Á Sondum on the island of Sandoy.
Credit: Image courtesy of Durham University

The Faroe Islands were colonised much earlier than previously believed, and it wasn't by the Vikings, according to new research.

New archaeological evidence places human colonisation in the 4th to 6th centuries AD, at least 300-500 years earlier than previously demonstrated.

The research, directed by Dr Mike J Church from Durham University and Símun V Arge from the National Museum of the Faroe Islands as part of the multidisciplinary project "Heart of the Atlantic," is published in the Quaternary Science Reviews.

The research challenges the nature, scale and timing of human settlement of the wider North Atlantic region and has implications for the colonisation of similar island groups across the world.

The Faroes were the first stepping stone beyond Shetland for the dispersal of European people across the North Atlantic that culminated on the shores of continental North America in the 11th century AD, about 500 years before Columbus made his famous voyage.

The research was carried out on an archaeological site at Á Sondum on the island of Sandoy.

Analysis showed an extensive windblown sand deposit containing patches of burnt peat ash from human activity, dating human settlement to pre-Viking phases. These ash spreads contained barley grains which were accidentally burnt in domestic hearths and were then spread by humans onto the windblown sand surface during the 4th-6th centuries and 6th-8th centuries, a common practice identified in the North Atlantic during this period to control wind erosion.

Lead author Dr Mike Church, from Durham University's Department of Archaeology, said: "There is now firm archaeological evidence for the human colonisation of the Faroes by people some 300-500 years before the large scale Viking colonisation of the 9th century AD, although we don't yet know who these people were or where they came from.

"The majority of archaeological evidence for this early colonisation is likely to have been destroyed by the major Viking invasion, explaining the lack of proof found in the Faroes for the earlier settlement. This also raises questions about the timing of human activity on other islands systems where similarly evidence may have been destroyed."

Co-author, Símun V Arge from the National Museum of the Faroe Islands, said: "Although we don't know who the people were that settled here and where they came from, it is clear that they did prepare peat for use, by cutting, drying and burning it which indicates they must have stayed here for some time.

"We now have to digest these dates of this early evidence in relation to other sources and consider whether there may be other similar sites, elsewhere on the islands, which may be able to provide us with further structural archaeological evidence."

The study was led by Durham University and the National Museum of the Faroe Islands, with the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Bradford, Stirling and Glasgow, the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre and the City University of New York.

It was funded by the Faroese Research Council, Leverhulme Trust, US National Science Foundation, Anadarko Faroes Company and BP Amoco Explorations.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Durham University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mike J. Church, Símun V. Arge, Kevin J. Edwards, Philippa L. Ascough, Julie M. Bond, Gordon T. Cook, Steve J. Dockrill, Andrew J. Dugmore, Thomas H. McGovern, Claire Nesbitt, Ian A. Simpson. The Vikings were not the first colonizers of the Faroe Islands. Quaternary Science Reviews, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.06.011

Cite This Page:

Durham University. "The Vikings were not the first colonizers of the Faroe Islands." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130820102510.htm>.
Durham University. (2013, August 20). The Vikings were not the first colonizers of the Faroe Islands. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130820102510.htm
Durham University. "The Vikings were not the first colonizers of the Faroe Islands." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130820102510.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) — Researchers believe an extinct kangaroo species weighed 500 pounds or more and couldn't hop. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1000-Year-Old Viking Treasure Hoard Found in Scotland

1000-Year-Old Viking Treasure Hoard Found in Scotland

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 14, 2014) — A hoard of Viking artifacts dating back over 1,000 years is discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Early Apple 1 Computer Set for Auction

Early Apple 1 Computer Set for Auction

AP (Oct. 10, 2014) — A vintage Apple computer and a letter by Charles Darwin on the sex life of barnacles are among the unusual pieces of science history that go up for auction in New York later this month. (Oct. 10) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Archaeologists Find 200,000-Year-Old Pre-Neanderthal Bones

Archaeologists Find 200,000-Year-Old Pre-Neanderthal Bones

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 9, 2014) — French archaeologists say they have discovered historically significant pre-Neanderthal remains which give insight into the behavior of the extinct human species. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins