August 21, 2013

Pre-Viking colonization of Faroe islands

Quaternary Science Reviews Available online 17 July 2013

The Vikings were not the first colonizers of the Faroe Islands

Mike J. Church et al.

We report on the earliest archaeological evidence from the Faroe Islands, placing human colonization in the 4th–6th centuries AD, at least 300–500 years earlier than previously demonstrated archaeologically. The evidence consists of an extensive wind-blown sand deposit containing patches of burnt peat ash of anthropogenic origin. Samples of carbonised barley grains from two of these ash patches produced 14C dates of two pre-Viking phases within the 4th–6th and late 6th–8th centuries AD. A re-evaluation is required of the nature, scale and timing of the human colonization of the Faroes and the wider North Atlantic region.



Onur said...

The results are no surprise. As in the pre-Viking colonization of Iceland, the Faroe Islands were probably firstly colonized by the Irish or a mixed group of the Irish and the Scotch several centuries before the Viking colonization. These pre-Viking colonizations are historically recorded.

CleverPrimate said...

Between the 4th and 6th centuries the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes were migrating from the continent to the British Isles in large numbers and could not have done so without a relatively sophisticated maritime technology that enabled them to make the crossing routinely. I am reasonably sure that those maritime technologies were not limited to those groups alone and so it is not hard to picture others being able to make the crossings necessary to reach the Faroes or any other of the plethora of habitable islands that dot the area. I suspect that there is much more like this to be found if anyone makes the effort to search.

Grey said...

"I suspect that there is much more like this to be found if anyone makes the effort to search."

Agree and if there was an extensive Atlantic coast maritime culture going back to megalithism then shipwrecks and fishing camps could go a long way back.

eurologist said...

I agree. Just because the mass emigrations of Angles and Saxons was caused by adverse climate events (leaving much of Jutland/ Cimbria severely underpopulated), this does not mean that boating technology was at a high point, just then.

Stephen said...

Such a late date for Faroes settlement even always seemed odd to me. Looking at the map it always looked within range of a Neolithic or even Mesolithic fishing boat. The technology used by St Brendan the Navigator was not exactly new.