Colonisation and Christianity: The Long Settlement of Viking Age and Medieval Skagafjörður, North Iceland [Hardback]

John M Steinberg (Editor); Douglas Bolender (Editor); Kathryn A Catlin (Editor); Brian N Damiata (Editor); Guðný Zoëga (Editor)

ISBN: 9781789259674 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Publication: January 2024 | Language: English 224p, H279 x W216 (mm) B&W and Color images
Status: Not yet published - advance orders taken

Colonisation and Christianity


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 Skagafjörður, 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.

Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1. The Regional Archaeology of Skagafjörður 1) The Skagafjörður Region (John Steinberg, Guðný Zoëga, Douglas Bolender) 2) The Archaeological Investigations (John Steinberg, Brian Damiata, Douglas Bolender, Guðný Zoëga, Sigríður Sigurðardóttir, Kathryn Catlin) 3) Regional Archaeology of Viking Age and Medieval Iceland: Farm and Household (John Steinberg, Douglas Bolender) 4) The Long Settlement, Iceland from ca. AD 870-1300 (John Steinberg, Guðný Zoëga, Douglas Bolender) 5) Intensive Regional Archaeological Survey (John Steinberg, Brian Damiata, Douglas Bolender) 6) Developing a Reflexive Methodology for a Regional Survey of Buried Farmsteads (John Steinberg, Brian Damiata, Douglas Bolender, Guðný Zoëga, Kathryn Catlin, Eric Johnson) 7) The Development of the Icelandic Settlement Pattern (John Steinberg, Douglas Bolender, Brian Damiata, Kathryn Catlin, Eric Johnson) 8) Beyond the Farm: Diverse Landscapes (Kathryn Catlin, John Steinberg, Guðný Zoëga) 9) Churches and Cemeteries (Guðný Zoëga, Sigríður Sigurðardóttir, Douglas Bolender, Brian Damiata) 10) The Plant Remains (Heather Trigg, Melissa Ritchey) 11) The Archaeofauna (Grace Cesario, Katherine Wagner, Leah Palmer, David Landon) 12) Artifactual Materials and Distributions (Douglas Bolender, Kathryn Catlin, Nicholas Zeitlin) 13) Farm Environments (Heather Trigg, Melissa Ritchey, Kathryn Catlin, Lauren Welch O’Connor) 14) The Skeletal Populations (Guðný Zoëga, Kimmarie Murphy) 15) Patterns of Early Settlement (John Steinberg, Douglas Bolender, Guðný Zoëga, Kathryn Catlin, Brian Damiata) 16) 11th Century Transitions: Christianity, Consolidation and Stability (Guðný Zoëga) Conclusion & summary References

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