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Title: The timing and impact of the Norse Landnám on the vegetation of Hovsdalur, Faroe Islands
Author: Borthwick, Douglas MacDonald
ISNI:       0000 0001 3471 1431
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2007
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The North Atlantic Islands, which include the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland, have a comparatively recent settlement history, with colonisation (landnám) taking place at a probable date of c. AD 800-1000, during the Norse migration period.  The timing and magnitude of the impacts of these settlers on the vegetation and landscape of Hovsdalur, Suduroy, Faroe Islands, is investigated with the use of palynology and sedimentological analyses of five peat sections and two soil profiles. Of particular interest in this study was the dating of landnám, given the ongoing debate about the possible origins and timing of the arrival of the first settlers.  Optimising techniques for the detection of cereal-type pollen in addition to high resolution sampling and radiocarbon dating were used in order to try and precisely detect the first impacts of settlers.  The study presents palynological evidence of landnám between the dates of c. 1600 to 1300 cal. yr BP (c. AD 355-655), which is earlier than the traditionally held date but not inconsistent with previous palynological studies.  It is accepted that a consistent dating error may account for the apparent early evidence of settlement - an issue which is compounded by the propensity of the Faroese environment to present an analogue for anthropogenic contexts in sediments dating prior to landnám.  The transhumance-based economy on which the Norse relied generated vegetation changes associated with both grazing and cultivation, which are evident in each pollen record from the current study.  The clearest signal is for grazing impacts which reduce tall-herb communities, trees, shrubs and later also the heaths, in favour of more extensive grassland environments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available