Europeanization of sub-arctic environments: perspectives from Norse Greenland's outer fjords

Kirsty A. Golding, Ian A. Simpson*, Clare A. Wilson, Emily C. Lowe, J. Edward Schofield, Kevin J. Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Europeanization of sub-Arctic environments by Norse communities in Greenland, from the early 11th to mid 15th centuries AD, varied spatially and temporally, with pastoral agriculture and associated homefield management at the heart of this transformation. This process is poorly understood for the outer fjord areas of Norse Greenland and from this locality we contribute a homefield soils and sediments-based analysis. Our findings identify a recipe effect - the partitioning of turf, domestic animal manure and domestic waste resources used to manage soil fertility, field irrigation channels and the effects of eroded material deposition in the homefield. These management practices increased soil macro-nutrient status relative to pre-settlement concentration in some areas of the homefield whilst macro-nutrient concentrations in other areas of the homefield were allowed to decline. We suggest that where resources were limited, sustainable intensification could only be achieved in some areas of the homefield with other areas managed unsustainably.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-77
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number1
Early online date18 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

Bibliographical note

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Leverhulme Trust Footprints on the Edge of Thule Programme Award. ECL acknowledges the support of the Weissman International Internship Program, the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the Department of Anthropology at Harvard. We would
also like to thank George McLeod (University of Stirling) for manufacturing soil thin sections.


  • Anthrosols
  • Europeanization
  • Norse Greenland
  • Sub-Arctic
  • Sustainable intensification


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