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Durham University

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Human impact on Norse landscapes in the North Atlantic

A research project of the Department of Archaeology.

Background

Dr Mike Church, Dr Rosie Bishop and Dr Beth Upex are part of an international team investigating the human impact on the environment during the Norse and early Medieval settlement across the North Atlantic islands, including Faroes, Iceland and Greenland. A significant part of this research effort has concentrated on the varied landscapes of Iceland, through the analysis of palaeoenvironmental, archaeological and geochronological data sets. The research is sponsored by a range of funding bodies including the Leverhulme Trust (UK) and National Science Foundation (US).

Published Results

Journal Article

  • Swindles, G T, Galloway, J, Outram, Z, Turner, K, Schofield, J E, Newton, A J, Dugmore, A J Church, M J, Watson, E, Batt, C, Bond, J M, Edwards, K J, Turner, V & Bashford, D (2013). Re-deposited cryptotephra layers in Holocene peats linked to anthropogenic activity. The Holocene 23(10): 1493-1501.
  • Mellows, A, Barnett, R , Dalen, L, Sandoval-Castellanos, E, Linderholm, A, McGovern, T H Church, M J & Larson, G (2012). The impact of past climate change on genetic variation and population connectivity in the Icelandic arctic fox. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279(1747): 4568-4573.
  • Ascough, P. L., Church, M. J., Cook, G. T., Dunbar, E., Gestsdóttir, H., McGovern, T. H., Dugmore, A. J., Friðriksson, A. & Edwards, K. J. (2012). Radiocarbon reservoir effects in human bone collagen from northern Iceland. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(7): 2261-2271.
  • Vickers, K, Erlendsson, E, Church, M J, Edwards, K J & Bending, J (2011). 1000 years of environmental change and human impact at Stóra-Mörk, southern Iceland: A multiproxy study of a dynamic and vulnerable landscape. The Holocene 21(6): 979-995.
  • Ascough, P L, Cook, G T, Hastie, H, Dunbar, E, Church, M J, Einarsson, Á, McGovern, T H & Dugmore, A J (2011). An Icelandic freshwater radiocarbon reservoir effect: Implications for lacustrine 14C chronologies. The Holocene 21(7): 1073-1080.
  • Ascough P L, Cook G T, Church M J, Dunbar E, Einarsson Á, McGovern T H, Dugmore A J, Perdikaris S, Hastie H, Friðriksson A & Gestsdóttir H (2010). Temporal and spatial variations in freshwater 14C reservoir effects: Lake Mývatn, northern Iceland. Radiocarbon 52(2-3): 1098-1112.
  • Dugmore, A J, Borthwick, D M, Church, M J, Dawson, A, Edwards, K J, Keller, C, Mayewski, P, McGovern, T H, Mairs, K-A & Sveinbjarnardóttir, G (2007). The role of climate in settlement and landscape change in the North Atlantic islands: an assessment of cumulative deviations in high-resolution proxy climate records. Human Ecology 35(2): 169-178.
  • McGovern, T H, Vésteinsson, O, Friðriksson, A, Church, M J, Lawson, I T, Simpson, I A, Einarsson, A, Dugmore, A J, Cook, G T, Perdikaris, S, Edwards, K J, Thomson, A M, Adderley, W P, Newton, A J, Lucas, G, Edvardsson, R, Aldred, O & Dunbar, E (2007). Landscapes of settlement in northern Iceland: Historical Ecology of human impact and climate fluctuation on the millennial scale. American Anthropologist 109(1): 27-51.
  • Roucoux, K H, Lawson, I T & Church, M J (2007). Identification of birch woodland in northern Iceland using pollen assemblages. Quaternary Newsletter 112: 39-44.
  • Lawson, I T, Gathorne-Hardy, F J, Church, M J, Newton, A J, Edwards, K J, Dugmore, A. J & Einarsson, Á. (2007). Environmental impacts of the Norse settlement: palaeoenvironmental data from Mývatnssveit, northern Iceland. Boreas 36(1): 1-19.
  • 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.
  • Dugmore, A J, Church, M J, Buckland, P C, Edwards, K J, Lawson, I T, McGovern, T H, Panagiotakopulu, E, Simpson, I A, Skidmore, P & Sveinbjarnardóttir, G (2005). The Norse landnám on the North Atlantic islands: an environmental impact assessment. Polar Record 41(1): 21-37.

Chapter in book

  • Dugmore, A J, Church, M J, Mairs, K-A, McGovern, T H, Newton, A J & Sveinbjarnardóttir, G (2006). An over-optimistic pioneer fringe? Environmental perspectives on medieval settlement abandonment in Þórsmörk, south Iceland. In Dynamics of northern societies proceedings of the SILA/NABO Conference on Arctic and North Atlantic Archaeology, Copenhagen, May 10th-14th, 2004. Arneborg, J & Grønnow, B Copenhagen: Aarhus University Press. 335-345.
  • Mairs, K-A, Church, M J, Dugmore, A J & Sveinbjarnardóttir, G (2006). Degrees of success: evaluating the environmental impacts of long term settlement in south Iceland. In Dynamics of northern societies proceedings of the SILA/NABO Conference on Arctic and North Atlantic Archaeology, Copenhagen, May 10th-14th, 2004. Arneborg, J & Grønnow, B Copenhagen: Aarhus University Press. 365-373.
  • Sveinbjarnardóttir, G, Mairs, K-A, Church, M J & Dugmore, A J (2006). Settlement history, land holdings and landscape change, Eyjafjallahreppur, Iceland. In Dynamics of northern societies proceedings of the SILA/NABO Conference on Arctic and North Atlantic Archaeology, Copenhagen, May 10th-14th, 2004. Arneborg, J & Grønnow, B Copenhagen: Aarhus University Press. 323-333.

Staff

From the Department of Archaeology