The Norse settlement of Shetland and Faroe, c.800-c.1500: a comparative study
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This thesis provides detailed studies of settlement on four Faroese islands and in four districts of Shetland in order to isolate and explain differences and similarities between the two island groups. These studies examine topography, place-names, relationships with previous settlements, church distribution, settlement expansion, inter-relationship of settlements and land assessments. The range of sources and methods are set out in the Introduction. The first Regional Study presents two districts of Western Norway, Fjaler and Gaular, which are discussed to illustrate some of the major trends of settlement in the homeland. Detailed studies are then made of settlements on the four Faroese islands of Fugloy, Streymoy, Sandoy and Suduroy and in the four Shetland districts of Fetlar, Delting, Walls and Sandness, and Tingwall. A section arranged thematically follows, bringing together results from the Regional Studies and referring more generally to the whole of Shetland and Faroe. This section examines three themes: firstly, the relationship between the Norse settlers and pre-Norse populations; secondly, the development of the Scattalds and bygdir; -and thirdly, naming patterns. Despite very great differences in the extent of settlement prior to the arrival of the Norse in Faroe and Shetland, primary settlement patterns are essentially similar. The Scattalds and bygdir represent comparable settlement districts and reflect similar agricultural requirements and responses to the landscape while primary settlement sites in both island groups generally feature good harbours and extensive cultivable land with topographical names descriptive of their coastal location. Secondary settlement expansion takes different forms in Faroe and Shetland, however, and this is reflected in nomenclature, in particular the absence of the habitative elements stadir, bolstadr and setr from Faroe. It is concluded that the absence or presence of habitative place-name elements is dependent on the nature of settlement expansion.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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