Living on the edge: patterns of agrarian settlement and land-use in the fjord landscape of Inner Sunnmøre
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Original versionIn: Mooney, D. E., Guðmundsdóttir, L., Dahl, B., Roberts, H. & Ramstad, M. (eds.), Expanding Horizons : Settlement Patterns and Outfield Land Use in the Norse North Atlantic, 25-44.
In 2005 the Geiranger fjord entered the UNESCO World Heritage List, as a central part of the Western Norwegian Fjord landscape. It represents a marginal agrarian landscape, with small iconic farms situated on ledges and steep mountainsides along the fjord, and a contrast both to central agricultural areas along the coast and the hunting grounds further inland. Yet, our knowledge on the origin and development of these small agrarian settlements is still quite limited, as modern development-led archaeology has not yet encroached into these sparsely populated areas. In 2018 Møre & Romsdal County Council initiated a project to enhance our knowledge on the settlement and land-use in this area, based on archaeological investigations of lynchets and field tillage at the fjord farms. These investigations are viewed in relation to more central farm settlements, on the basis of written sources, grave finds and development-led excavations and surveys, as well as to the numerous traces of hunting and trapping in the mountains beyond. This project has shed new light, not only on the emergence of the marginal farms themselves, but also on long-term relations between centre and periphery, agriculture and hunting, across this liminal landscape.