von der Römischen Kaiserzeit bis zum Mittelalter

HaNoA and SAGES workshop, 12th – 14th February 2014

The viking age landing place of Sandur, Faroe Islands.

Harbours in the North Atlantic (ca. 800-1300 AD)

HaNoA and SAGES workshop

School of GeoSciences, The University of Edinburgh

12 – 14 February 2014

Context: In mainland Europe almost every important early medieval harbour developed into a town or city, but the situation in the far North Atlantic is very different. In Viking and medieval times “ports” in Orkney, Shetland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland were mostly simple landing places used during the summer months. Nevertheless, these places handled trade of considerable value and importance which gives them a central role in the economic history of Northern Europe and the development of the proto-world system that extended into and beyond the North Atlantic in the later Middle Ages. The identification of these sites is frequently uncertain and the reasons why established harbours fell into disuse are unclear- this period saw changes in weather patterns, coastal geomorphology and boat design as well as flux in trading patterns and economic and political influences.

A current multidisciplinary, multinational effort supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) and entitled The Harbours in the North Atlantic (HaNoA) aims to better understand the harbours of these North Atlantic islands and western Norway.

The workshop aims to capitalise on the opportunities being created by the HaNoA to develop new collaborations within SAGES (Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society) and to promote integration between HaNoA, Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion (SCAPE) and the Scotland’s Coastal Heritage at Risk Project (SCHARP). HaNoA’s remit includes the Shetland Islands – providing an area of geographical overlap and allowing thematic questions of coastal change and archaeology to be examined, including how the ripple effects of such harbour-based trade extended to become of pan-NW Atlantic concern.


Workshop themes

1. The practical integration of geomorphology, numerical models of coastal evolution and archaeology: numerical models are providing a better understanding of the long-term drivers of geomorphological change on coastlines. A major challenge is how best to effectively combine the emerging insights from modelling to specific archaeological contexts.

2. Data: the identification of datasets (especially those in ‘grey’ literature) relevant for model development and new data generation initiatives (especially use of GPR and Electrical Resistivity to determine sediment depths and buried features, and potential integration of HaNoA/SCAPE/SCHARP activities in Shetland).

3. Historical case studies: sharing knowledge of specific episodes of coastal change and their likely drivers.

The workshop will be held in association with a HaNoA gathering in Edinburgh bringing together colleagues from Norway, Austria and the UK. This provides added value for both SAGES and HaNoA. 


For the Workshop program, please click here.

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