Skuggi landnám farm and site economy in transition: an assessment of the Structure A and household midden remains from the Viking Age to the Medieval period
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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, 65-84.
This paper provides an initial overview and assessment of the Skuggi Settlement Era farm in Hörgárdalur, Eyjafjörður. Excavations on the marginal site in 2008-09 resulted in organic and inorganic remains collected from a domestic midden infilling a turf and stone building, Structure A, which was fully excavated in 2013-14. Located on land owned by the Staðartunga farm, the site was discovered on a seemingly marginal, north-facing slope. The midden and structural remains inform us about changing farming and thus economic strategies from the Viking period and Middle Ages. Buried contemporary landslides indicate destabilized slope conditions, potentially coinciding with human settlement on this steep mountain slope. Skuggi can be viewed as one small, and early, part of a larger socio-economic network within and beyond Eyjafjörður, based on exchange in luxury goods for export, but also bulk goods such as dried fish, and, in this case, a shift from subsistence agro-pastoralism toward increased sheep wool production. Along with local and overseas politics and religious institutions exerting power on such small-scale farming operations, the changing environment may have also played a role. Research at Skuggi forms a part of the Eyjafjörður Ecodynamics Project (EE) which was developed from the Gásir Hinterlands Project (GHP).