Norse and Native in Northwest Europe
Edinburgh • 21 May 2015

This conference provides a friendly forum for academics of all career stages to showcase and discuss their current research, focusing on pre-modern interactions between Scandinavians and native communities in the British Isles, the North Atlantic, and Continental Europe through a variety of historical media. It is organised by the Scottish Society for Northern Studies in collaboration with Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Register for this event here.

Conference Programme
12:00-13:00 - Registration and Lunch
13:00-13:10 - Alan Macniven - Introduction

13:10-14:30 - Postgraduate Session – Chair: Ryan Foster
13:10-13:30 - Sofia Evemalm (University of Glasgow) - Studying Þórr- as an element in Lewis place-names
13:30-13:50 - Christian Cooijmans (University of Edinburgh) – Norse and Native in the Netherlands: Reconsidering Vikings in Dorestad
13:50-14:10 - Patrick Jolicoeur (University of Glasgow) – Interactions on the fringe: Cultural Contacts in the Arctic AD 900-1500
14:10-14:30 - Joint Q&A

14:30-14:50 - Coffee

14:50-15:30 - (including Q&A) Ryan Foster (University of Edinburgh) - The Old Norse place-name -ærgi in Scotland
15:30-16:00 - (including Q&A) Shane McLeod (University of Stirling) - Vikings and churchmen: Norse and native in the Kingdom of Northumbria
16:00-16:30 - (including Q&A) Caroline Paterson (Independent) – Norse and native: Unravelling cultural identity from burial assemblages

16:30-17:00 - Discussion Forum
17:00-17:10 - Alan Macniven - Closing remarks
17:10-18:30 - Reception

Please see below for abstracts.

This conference is open to all students, scholars and enthusiasts. The event is free but ticketed. Lunch and drinks are complimentary. Practical information will be provided beforehand.

Should you have any questions, please contact Christian Cooijmans or Alan Macniven.

We look forward to seeing you on the 21st.

The Organising Committee

Patrick Joliecoeur (Glasgow)
Interactions on the fringe: cultural contacts in the Arctic AD 900-1500’

My PhD research focuses on the potential interactions between the three main cultural groups in the eastern Canadian Arctic and Greenland between AD 900 and 1500. First, the Dorset are the descendants of the first humans to inhabit the Arctic. Despite surviving in the Arctic for nearly three thousand years, the Dorset would eventually disappear from the region around the 14th century. Second, the Norse established colonies on southwest Greenland in the late 10th century. The Norse would eventually abandon the island in the mid to late 15th century. Last, the Thule, the genetic ancestors of the modern Inuit, migrated quickly eastward from their cultural homeland in northern Alaska during the 13th century, reaching the eastern Canadian Arctic and High Arctic Greenland at the end of the same century. While there are hints of interaction between the Norse and these two native groups throughout Greenland and the eastern Arctic, the nature of this cultural contact remains elusive. Although still in its preliminary stages, my research aims to question the processes of interaction between these three groups and how this may manifest itself in the archaeological record. Hopefully this will begin to elucidate not only how and why these interactions occurred but also the role the traded objects played in these contacts.

Sofia Evemalm (Glasgow)
‘Studying Þórr- as an element in Lewis place-names’

Although often overshadowed by the Scandinavian material found in the Danelaw, Old Norse personal names in place-names in the Western Isles is an area of research with potential in its own right. Based on this, a group of Lewis place-names containing variants of personal names derived from Old Norse Þórr- is investigated here. The underlying research behind this paper forms part of my thesis which aims to create a comprehensive corpus of Old Norse and Gaelic place-names containing personal names in Lewis. The study forms part of a wider investigation into the Old Norse corpus of names in order to elucidate the way in which personal names have been incorporated into place-names. The aim is to study the way in which these personal names have been used as place-name elements, from a linguistic, cultural and historical view point. It is important to note that many of these place-names only survive as ex nomine units in Gaelic formations, for example in the case of Àirigh Thòrshader(G àirigh + *Tòrshader). Therefore, the paper will also look at the way in which these names have been incorporated into the Gaelic namescape.

Christian Cooijmans (Edinburgh)
‘Norse and Native in the Netherlands: Reconsidering Vikings in Dorestad’

The great emporium of Dorestad rose to prominence as the main export centre for goods coming down from the Rhenish heartlands during the eighth and early ninth centuries. Enticed by its growing wealth and prestige, Viking raiders sacked the settlement multiple times during the 830s and subsequent decades before politically attaching themselves as local vassals to the divided Carolingian Kingdoms. Until now, Scandinavian hostility has mainly, sometimes exclusively, been blamed for the gradual economic downturn and eventual disappearance of Dorestad towards the turn of the century. This paper reconsiders the dominant hypotheses on the settlement’s decline before proposing an alternative, in which these events represent an initial phase of a much larger Carolingian design to actively retain control of commercial interests throughout the region, whilst simultaneously making use of newly established Scandinavian vassalage to secure centres of political, commercial and ecclesiastical power upstream. This paper represents an individual case study within a larger model of Norse-native interaction in Continental Europe during the Viking Age, currently under development.

Shane McLeod (Stirling)
‘Vikings and churchmen: Norse and native in the Kingdom of Northumbria’

One of the more remarkable aspects of the Scandinavian conquest of York in 866 was how quickly an accommodation was reached between the conquerors and the Archbishop of York. By c. 883 an accommodation had also been reached between Guthfrith and the Community of St Cuthbert which even saw the body of St Cuthbert present at the inauguration of a Scandinavian king. These agreements are rare evidence of negotiations between native and Norse at the highest levels of power. This paper will explore the implications of these interactions.

Caroline Paterson (Independent)
‘Norse and native – Unravelling cultural identity from burial assemblages’

I would like to compare what appear to be typical Viking burials at Cumwhitton, Cumbria with “transitional” inhumations at St Michael’s Workington and Carlisle Cathedral, which are accompanied not by grave goods as such, but clothing accessories, which still have a strong Scandinavian signature. Study of the artefacts can reveal much about cultural identity and interaction, but also clearly has limitations. These three sites reflect a dynamic period of change in early tenth century Cumbria. I should then like to reflect on what the pagan Norse graves of Scotland can tell us about cultural interaction between Norse and native at this time and whether regional variations are apparent within the assemblages.
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