The Scandinavian settlement of Northern Shetland: Northmavine, Yell, Unst, and Fetlar

Marttila, Juha M. (2008) The Scandinavian settlement of Northern Shetland: Northmavine, Yell, Unst, and Fetlar. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information:


The Norse colonisation of the North Atlantic from circa 800 AD onwards had a significant effect on Shetland. The archipelago became very Scandinavian and the culture of the local population almost disappeared. The research agenda of this multidisciplinary research was to investigate all the aspects of the Scandinavian settlement in Northmavine, Yell, Unst, and Fetlar: the extent and nature of the occupation, the reasons for the settlement pattern, whether the area functioned as a single sea-based unit or several island/land-based units, the historical, linguistic and place-name evidence, the economy and resources, the transition periods between the late Iron Age and the Viking Age and the Viking Age and the late Norse period, and the ecclesiastical evidence and the pagan graves.
To achieve the agenda, all the known evidence of the Norse settlement was assessed, after which a programme of intensive fieldwork was carried out. It consisted of the re-assessment of known sites and of the attempt to discover hitherto unknown sites dating from the Viking Age and late Norse period. The fieldwork resulted in the discovery of several hitherto unknown sites.
The analysed data indicated that the research area was extensively settled during the period of Norse occupation, the settlement intensifying during the late Norse period. Evidence of the development of market economy and settlement specialisation was identified, particularly during the late Norse period. Evidence also suggests at least partial control of the resources in Shetland.
The various strands of data were combined and a geographical model of the Norse settlement and its development was created. The data suggested relative stability in the settlement units and their distribution during the last millennia in Shetland. One major outcome of the research was the hypothesis that the settlements, after which the scattalds were named, possibly represent the primary Norse settlement of northern Shetland.
The research provided a more complete picture of the Norse society in northern Shetland, which was a focal point during the Scandinavian settlement. A model for the Norse settlement and its development was created. It also highlighted the need for further work in order to fully understand the development of the settlement and economy and to establish the dates of some of the archaeological remains.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available.
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Supervisor's Name: Batey, Dr. Colleen
Date of Award: 2008
Depositing User: Dr Juha M Marttila
Unique ID: glathesis:2008-711
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:25

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