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Historical ecology on Sandoy, Faroe Islands: palaeoenvironmental and archaeological perspectives

Lawson, IT; Church, MJ; McGovern, TH; Arge, SV; Woollet, J; Edwards, KJ; Gathorne-Hardy, FJ; Dugmore, AJ; Cook, G; Mairs, K-A; Thomson, AM; Sveinbjarnardóttir, G


IT Lawson

TH McGovern

SV Arge

J Woollet

KJ Edwards

FJ Gathorne-Hardy

AJ Dugmore

G Cook

K-A Mairs

AM Thomson

G Sveinbjarnardóttir


We present palaeoenvironmental, geomorphological, archaeological, and place-name data which allow a holistic assessment of the history of landscape change on Sandoy, Faroe Islands, especially in terms of the changes that occurred in response to the colonization of the island by humans. In contrast to other situations in the North Atlantic region, there is considerable continuity in the patterns and processes of landscape evolution across the initial settlement horizon. Many of the characteristic features of postsettlement North Atlantic landscapes - absence of trees, widespread blanket mires, high rates of soil erosion - were already in place when the first people arrived. Although human impact on Sandoy appears to have been light, conversely, the unusual environment forced major alterations of the subsistence economy imported by the colonists. Settlement-era archaeological records suggest that, from the start, patterns of resource use differed substantially from the regional norm, and these differences became amplified over time as the Faroese economy created a locally sustainable cultural landscape.


Lawson, I., Church, M., McGovern, T., Arge, S., Woollet, J., Edwards, K., …Sveinbjarnardóttir, G. (2005). Historical ecology on Sandoy, Faroe Islands: palaeoenvironmental and archaeological perspectives. Human Ecology, 33(5), 651-684.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 1, 2005
Deposit Date Apr 3, 2009
Journal Human Ecology
Print ISSN 0300-7839
Electronic ISSN 1572-9915
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 33
Issue 5
Pages 651-684
Keywords Norse, Human adaptation, Palaeoecology, Archaeology, Landnam.