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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Mike Church

Vésteinsson, O., Church, M. J., Dugmore, A. J., McGovern, T. H. & Newton, A. J. (2014). Expensive errors or rational choices: the pioneer fringe in Late Viking Age Iceland. European Journal of Post-Classical Archaeologies 4: 39-68.

Author(s) from Durham


Just as the colonies established on the North Atlantic islands in the Viking Age were peripheral to Europe, so these islands had their own peripheral areas. In Iceland the highland margins have long been a focus of archaeological research and the prevailing view has been that highland settlement failed because people had made unrealistic assessments of carrying capacity. This paper presents a case study of the northern highland valley of Krókdalur and argues that the dating and pattern of settlement in that valley indicates that its settlers were keenly aware of its limitations. It also suggests explanatory frameworks that can make sense of this marginal
settlement without resorting to environmental determinism.