The Norse and the Sea

The Norse and the Sea: The Maritime Cultural Landscape of Scandinavian Scotland (NaS) content

The Norse and the Sea: The Maritime Cultural Landscape of Scandinavian Scotland (NaS)

Potential Harbour on Lochaber Coast

Potential Harbour on Lochaber Coast. Photo Credit: Steven D P Richardson

Project leads: Prof. Alexandra Sanmark and Dr Sven Kalmring,Zentrum für Baltische und Skandinavische Archäologie, Schleswig

Co-Investigators: Dr Andrew Jennings and Dr Dennis Wilken, Institute for Geosciences, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel.

This project will investigate the maritime cultural landscape in Scandinavian Scotland (c. AD 790-1350), through an interdisciplinary approach using archaeological, written and toponymic evidence and address the overarching questions of connectivity and communication in Norse Scotland. The term ‘maritime cultural landscape’ was originally coined by Norwegian archaeologists Christer Westerdahl to denote ‘the unity of remnants of maritime culture on land as well as underwater’. This formed part of his ground-breaking analytical framework developed for the Bothnian/Baltic area and which has been successfully applied in Scandinavia, Germany and the North Atlantic. This concept is virtually unexplored for Scandinavian Scotland, despite being equally applicable to this area. By bringing this innovative research framework combined with archaeological and geophysical fieldwork to Scotland, this project will generate new data on maritime culture and enable important study of this geographic area from a whole new perspective.

The project will build on three main strands of research: existing research on the Norse settlement of Scandinavian Scotland, smaller research initiatives focusing on maritime Scotland, as well as research on maritime cultural landscape from Germany, Scandinavia and the wider North Atlantic.

The research will be carried out through three work packages. The first one encompasses a PhD project entitled Norse harbours in the west of Scotland for which a number of Norse landing places in Scotland will be identified and examined through geophysical survey and targeted excavation. In the second work package The Norse in the North and West of Scotland: settlements and the sea – the toponymic evidence, a PDRA and project partners will examine place-names to provide insight into maritime travel and harbours in Scandinavian Scotland. Data will also be drawn from oral traditions through study of local folklore and interviews with local people, as such traditions are still strong in rural Scotland. In the third work package Travel and communication in Scandinavian Scotland and the wider North Atlantic an overarching view of the maritime cultural landscape as well as travel and communication will be created through detailed analysis of Norse archaeological remains and landscape study. All in all, the project will provide a whole new view of Scandinavian Scotland.

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