Colonisation and Christianity : The Long Settlement of Viking Age and Medieval Skagafjoerdur, North Iceland, Hardback Book

Colonisation and Christianity : The Long Settlement of Viking Age and Medieval Skagafjoerdur, North Iceland Hardback

Edited by John M Steinberg, Douglas Bolender, Kathryn A Catlin, Brian N Damiata, Gudny Zoega


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A joint Icelandic-US archaeological project in North Iceland examined the development of the farmstead settlement pattern from the initial Norse settlement of Iceland in c.

AD 870-1300. The results were compared with the distribution of early Christian household cemeteries following the conversion in AD 1000 and the later institutionalization of the Catholic church in the 12th century. Colonization and Christianity details the methods and results from an innovative systemic regional archaeological survey that integrated extensive soil coring and shallow geophysical surveying with targeted excavation, tephra and AMS dating and documentary research to produce a near complete inventory of Viking Age and medieval occupation in and around the Hegranes region in lowland Skagafjoerdur, North Iceland.

The survey revealed 32 Viking Age and medieval farmstead sites and seven early Christian household cemeteries at 20 modern farm properties.

Results included the first complete regional settlement pattern in Iceland based on systematic subsurface reconnaissance with control over negative evidence; identification and mapping of a household cemetery and Viking Age longhouse and ancillary structures; and barley has been identified for the first time in the middens of a broad swath of Viking Age farmsteads. The results of the project confirm that the Viking Age settlement, which started in about AD 870, was rapid and the landscape itself was filled in by immigrants from Northern Europe within 60 years, as the Icelandic Family Sagas suggest.

However, the process of creating the medieval agropastoral landscape took much longer.

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