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Norse Settlement in the Outer Hebrides

Sharples, N; Pearson, MP; (1999) Norse Settlement in the Outer Hebrides. Norwegian Archaeological Review , 32 (1) pp. 41-62. 10.1080/002936599420894.

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Recent work on the Norse settlement of Scotland has focused on the settlements of the Northern Isles. In this article we present some new results from the less intensively studied Western Isles. A detailed survey of South Uist has revealed a large number of settlements on the machair plain on the west coast of the island. These settlements are closely related to the pre-existing native settlement pattern and suggest settlement continuity from the middle of the first millennium BC to the 14th century AD. In the 14th century there appears to be an abandonment of the machair plain and a movement onto the adjacent blacklands. Two of these Norse settlements have been excavated and a large amount of evidence showing the nature of the Norse settlement has been found. We take the opportunity to discuss the structural remains so far exposed and an architectural sequence is suggested. A number of diagnostic artefact types have been recovered and these yield accurate dates for the sequence of development. In a general discussion of the results it is argued that the settlement evidence does not support the argument for a widespread slaughter of the indigenous population when the Norse arrived on the islands. Instead, we would argue that continuity is the principal feature of the archaeological record in the later part of the first millennium AD. The principal disruption appears to coincide with the transfer of the islands to the Scottish crown and might represent a significant reorientation of the island economy. © 1999 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Type: Article
Title: Norse Settlement in the Outer Hebrides
DOI: 10.1080/002936599420894
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1568511
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