Marked up to be included in the Scandinavian-Canadian Journal
This book emerges from the ten day Viking Millennium International Symposium held in Newfoundland and Labrador in September 2000. The range of papers and contributors to the volume reflects the diversity of the conference participants. Here the reader will find essays ranging from anecdotal narratives about L’Anse aux Meadows and the role of re-enactors in the World Heritage site to academically founded research articles covering topics such as identity, faith, philology, environmental impacts, and cultural contacts. The contributors include established researchers, new scholars, museum curators and Norse enthusiasts from both North America and Europe.
The book has been divided into three broad sections. The first section of the book, entitled
The second half of section one has a particularly, but not exclusively, archaeological approach to Greenland. Svend Albrethsen presents a detailed analysis of the earliest farm structures in the Western Settlement, while Niels Lynnerup’s study establishes a paleodemographic profile of the Norse settlements in Greenland based on population models, settlement sizes and grave sites. Jette Arneborg examines the relationship between the Greenlandic archaeological remains and the textual sources, concluding that written accounts of violent clashes between the settlers and the Inuit are unsupported.
Eight papers in section two focus on a variety of aspects of society and culture. Michèle Hayeur-Smith examines the role of adornment in Icelandic society, arguing that oval brooches played an active role in defining Scandinavian identity in Iceland. David Gardner attempts to reconstruct the forms of Viking Age entertainment that may have been seen in Greenland and Vínland on the basis of artefacts found across the Norse world, details within sagas, and a certain amount of extrapolation from other sources. The question of faith is addressed in several papers, including Anne-Sofie Gräslund’s examination of the conversion of Scandinavia, where she argues for syncretism between pagan and Christian practices. Neil Price focuses, instead, on the archaeological evidence for
seiðr, demonstrating the influence of the Sámi people on Norse religion.
The tone of section two changes dramatically in its final papers. Here, Magnús Stefánsson and Alan Crozier continue the etymological debate about the naming of Vínland. Following a lengthy discussion regarding naming conventions, chronologies and locations, Magnús Stefánsson cautiously concludes that for now we should use the archaeological data as the starting point for interpretation. An underlying issue in this debate is just how far the Norse expansion extended—a topic to which papers in the third section of the book will return.
The final section of the book is entitled:
Birgitta Wallace’s paper,
The last of the papers in this volume take up the theme of navigation. Here, for example, the Uunartoq-bearing dial is re-examined by Christian Keller and Arne Emil Christensen, while Kirsten Seaver deconstructs the story of the
Overall, this is a valuable resource for researchers and the general public alike. Although it sometimes suffers from being either too generalised or conversely too specialised, this book has enough variety in it to appeal to a wide-ranging audience. One possible weakness in this volume arises from the decision to preserve the order of presentation from the symposium—the three sections reflect the symposium program rather than any strong unifying features of the papers themselves. This sometimes results in a lack of coherence, both geographically and thematically, which might be confusing to some readers.
One of the greatest strengths of