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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Professor Mike Church

Church, M. J., Arge, S. V., Edwards, K. J., Ascough, P. L., Bond, J. M., Cook, G. T., Dockrill, S. J., Dugmore, A. J., McGovern, T. H., Nesbitt, C. & Simpson, I. A. (2013). The Vikings were not the first colonizers of the Faroe Islands. Quaternary Science Reviews 77: 228-232.

Author(s) from Durham


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.