Interpreting the Viking Age to Medieval Period Transition in Norse Orkney through Cultural Soil and Sediment Analyses

Interpreting the Viking Age to Medieval Period Transition in Norse Orkney through Cultural Soil and Sediment Analyses

By Ian A. Simpson, James H. Barrett, and Karen B. Milek

Geoarchaeology: An International Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2 (2005)

Abstract: The transition from the Viking Age (ca. A.D. 800–1050) to the Medieval period (ca. A.D. 1050–1500) saw the development of widening trade activities that incorporated peripheral North Atlantic polities into mainstream Europe and contributed to the intensification of marineresource exploitation and agricultural production in these localities. As yet, there is only limited understanding of these intensification processes and their interrelationships, particularly at a local, site-based level. Through the micromorphological analysis of cultural soils and sediments at Quoygrew, Westray, Orkney, we explore the characteristics of farming and fishing activity during the Viking Age–Medieval transition period and establish their chronological relationships. The study demonstrates: (1) that intensification took place from ca. A.D. 966–1162 on an already existing Viking Age settlement, (2) that intensification of fishing activity occurred prior to the intensification of arable agriculture, and (3) that the Quoygrew site continued throughout this period as an economically diverse permanent settlement. When viewed in a wider North Atlantic context, these findings indicate that intensification of different economic activities proceeded at different rates and that intensification of specialized economic activities during the transition from the Viking Age to the Medieval period was dependent on existing knowledge of local environments.

Click here to read this article from the North Atlantic Biocultural Organisation

(via Medievalists.net)

Related Blogs



    Interpreting the Viking Age to Medieval
    Period Transition in Norse Orkney through
    Cultural Soil and Sediment Analyses
    Ian A. Simpson,1,* James H. Barrett,2 and Karen B. Milek3
    1
    School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling,
    Stirling FK9 4LA, Scotland, United Kingdom
    2
    Department of Archaeology, The King’s Manor, University of York, York YO1
    7EP, United Kingdom
    3
    Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Downing St., Cambridge
    CB2 3DZ, United Kingdom
    The transition from the Viking Age (ca. A.D. 800–1050) to the Medieval period (ca. A.D.
    1050–1500) saw the development of widening trade activities that incorporated peripheral
    North Atlantic polities into mainstream Europe and contributed to the intensification of marine-
    resource exploitation and agricultural production in these localities. As yet, there is only lim-
    ited understanding of these intensification processes and their interrelationships, particularly
    at a local, site-based level. Through the micromorphological analysis of cultural soils and sed-
    iments at Quoygrew, Westray, Orkney, we explore the characteristics of farming and fishing activ-
    ity during the Viking Age–Medieval transition period and establish their chronological rela-
    tionships. The study demonstrates: (1) that intensification took place from ca. A.D. 966–1162
    on an already existing Viking Age settlement, (2) that intensification of fishing activity occurred
    prior to the intensification of arable agriculture, and (3) that the Quoygrew site continued
    throughout this period as an economically diverse permanent settlement. When viewed in a
    wider North Atlantic context, these findings indicate that intensification of different economic
    activities proceeded at different rates and that intensification of specialized economic activi-
    ties during the transition from the Viking Age to the Medieval period was dependent on exist-
    ing knowledge of local environments. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    INTRODUCTION
    The period of political, economic, and social transformations that marked the
    transition from the Viking Age (ca. A.D. 800–1050) to the Medieval period (ca. A.D.
    1050–1500), traditionally commencing ca. A.D. 1050, is a watershed in northern
    European history. It has been characterized primarily as a period of transition from
    decentralized, chieftain-based authorities with pagan ideology to centralized state
    authorities in which Christian ideology was dominant. This process included the
    onset of Scandinavian state formation and the incorporation of “peripheral” North
    Atlantic polities, such as northern Norway, Iceland, Orkney, and Shetland into new
    state structures (Barrett et al., 2000a; Figure 1). With these new political and social
    *Corresponding author; i.a.simpson@stirling.ac.uk.
    Geoarchaeology: An International Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2, 357–379 (2005)
    © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Published online in Wiley Interscience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI:10.1002/gea.20054

    Advertisements

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s