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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Professor Mike Church

Dugmore, A J, Church, M J, Mairs, K-A, McGovern, T H, Perdikaris, S & Vésteinsson, O (2007). Abandoned farms, volcanic impacts and woodland management: revisiting Þjórsárdalur, the ‘Pompeii of Iceland’. Arctic Anthropology 44(1): 1-11.

Author(s) from Durham


Geomorphological maps and nine soil profiles containing 92 tephra layers have been examined to explore the nature of medieval environmental change in Þjórsárdalur, Iceland, where farms are thought to have been abandoned after the massive tephra fall from the eruption of Hekla in 1104 A.D. We present evidence for continued human activity in the area in the two centuries following the 1104 A.D. eruption, indicating a continued utilization of the region that changed after another major episode of volcanic fallout in 1300 A.D. We propose that measures were taken in the fourteenth century to conserve woodland in Þjórsárdalur that resulted in localized landscape stabilization that continued throughout the following Little Ice Age episodes of climate deterioration.