Palynology supports 'Old Norse' introductions to the flora of Greenland

J. Edward Schofield, Kevin J. Edwards, Egill Erlendsson, Paul M. Ledger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aim
This paper integrates pollen-analytical data from sites across southern Greenland to revisit the debate regarding which plants may have been introduced during the Norse colonization or landnám c. ad 985.

Location
Palynological data are drawn from 14 sites (lakes and mires) located within the former Eastern Settlement of Norse Greenland (c. 60.9° N, 45.5° W).

Methods
Maps are presented displaying palynological data for three taxa (Rumex acetosella, Polygonum aviculare and Achillea millefolium), which earlier scholars have argued are ‘Old Norse’ anthropochores. The maps display pollen frequencies at regular (c. 100-year) intervals across a period (ad 800–1500) encompassing Norse settlement.

Results
Maps for c. ad 800 and 900 (prior to Norse arrival) display the taxa as locally absent, with the appearance and expansion of their pollen at multiple sites from c. ad 1000 (landnám) providing support for the assumption that each taxon arrived with the first settlers. A general and widespread decline in pollen frequencies for these ‘Old Norse’ elements on the c. ad 1500 map (following Norse abandonment) demonstrates a close connection between these plants and a cultural landscape that was shaped and maintained predominantly via animal husbandry.

Main conclusions
Patterns emerging from this exercise may initiate wider debates related to the pattern and character of the Norse colonization of Greenland. It is suggested that differences in the function or role of farm sites could have led to the creation of greater areas of favourable habitat for ‘Old Norse’ flora in some locations relative to others, and that uneven patterns of colonization and the spread of ‘Old Norse’ plants might be explained if their introduction – presumably from Iceland – first occurred at only a few locations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119-1130
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Volume40
Issue number6
Early online date27 Dec 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

Fingerprint

palynology
Greenland
flora
pollen
colonization
Rumex acetosella
Polygonum aviculare
Achillea millefolium
animal husbandry
cultural landscape
Iceland
mire
exercise
farm
lakes
farms
lake
habitat
habitats

Keywords

  • Achillea millefolium
  • anthropochores
  • Greenland
  • Iceland
  • landnám
  • Norse
  • palaeoecology
  • pollen
  • Polygonum aviculare
  • Rumex acetosella

Cite this

Palynology supports 'Old Norse' introductions to the flora of Greenland. / Schofield, J. Edward; Edwards, Kevin J.; Erlendsson, Egill; Ledger, Paul M.

In: Journal of Biogeography, Vol. 40, No. 6, 06.2013, p. 1119-1130.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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title = "Palynology supports 'Old Norse' introductions to the flora of Greenland",
abstract = "AimThis paper integrates pollen-analytical data from sites across southern Greenland to revisit the debate regarding which plants may have been introduced during the Norse colonization or landn{\'a}m c. ad 985.LocationPalynological data are drawn from 14 sites (lakes and mires) located within the former Eastern Settlement of Norse Greenland (c. 60.9° N, 45.5° W).MethodsMaps are presented displaying palynological data for three taxa (Rumex acetosella, Polygonum aviculare and Achillea millefolium), which earlier scholars have argued are ‘Old Norse’ anthropochores. The maps display pollen frequencies at regular (c. 100-year) intervals across a period (ad 800–1500) encompassing Norse settlement.ResultsMaps for c. ad 800 and 900 (prior to Norse arrival) display the taxa as locally absent, with the appearance and expansion of their pollen at multiple sites from c. ad 1000 (landn{\'a}m) providing support for the assumption that each taxon arrived with the first settlers. A general and widespread decline in pollen frequencies for these ‘Old Norse’ elements on the c. ad 1500 map (following Norse abandonment) demonstrates a close connection between these plants and a cultural landscape that was shaped and maintained predominantly via animal husbandry.Main conclusionsPatterns emerging from this exercise may initiate wider debates related to the pattern and character of the Norse colonization of Greenland. It is suggested that differences in the function or role of farm sites could have led to the creation of greater areas of favourable habitat for ‘Old Norse’ flora in some locations relative to others, and that uneven patterns of colonization and the spread of ‘Old Norse’ plants might be explained if their introduction – presumably from Iceland – first occurred at only a few locations.",
keywords = "Achillea millefolium, anthropochores, Greenland, Iceland, landn{\'a}m , Norse, palaeoecology, pollen, Polygonum aviculare, Rumex acetosella",
author = "Schofield, {J. Edward} and Edwards, {Kevin J.} and Egill Erlendsson and Ledger, {Paul M.}",
year = "2013",
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T1 - Palynology supports 'Old Norse' introductions to the flora of Greenland

AU - Schofield, J. Edward

AU - Edwards, Kevin J.

AU - Erlendsson, Egill

AU - Ledger, Paul M.

PY - 2013/6

Y1 - 2013/6

N2 - AimThis paper integrates pollen-analytical data from sites across southern Greenland to revisit the debate regarding which plants may have been introduced during the Norse colonization or landnám c. ad 985.LocationPalynological data are drawn from 14 sites (lakes and mires) located within the former Eastern Settlement of Norse Greenland (c. 60.9° N, 45.5° W).MethodsMaps are presented displaying palynological data for three taxa (Rumex acetosella, Polygonum aviculare and Achillea millefolium), which earlier scholars have argued are ‘Old Norse’ anthropochores. The maps display pollen frequencies at regular (c. 100-year) intervals across a period (ad 800–1500) encompassing Norse settlement.ResultsMaps for c. ad 800 and 900 (prior to Norse arrival) display the taxa as locally absent, with the appearance and expansion of their pollen at multiple sites from c. ad 1000 (landnám) providing support for the assumption that each taxon arrived with the first settlers. A general and widespread decline in pollen frequencies for these ‘Old Norse’ elements on the c. ad 1500 map (following Norse abandonment) demonstrates a close connection between these plants and a cultural landscape that was shaped and maintained predominantly via animal husbandry.Main conclusionsPatterns emerging from this exercise may initiate wider debates related to the pattern and character of the Norse colonization of Greenland. It is suggested that differences in the function or role of farm sites could have led to the creation of greater areas of favourable habitat for ‘Old Norse’ flora in some locations relative to others, and that uneven patterns of colonization and the spread of ‘Old Norse’ plants might be explained if their introduction – presumably from Iceland – first occurred at only a few locations.

AB - AimThis paper integrates pollen-analytical data from sites across southern Greenland to revisit the debate regarding which plants may have been introduced during the Norse colonization or landnám c. ad 985.LocationPalynological data are drawn from 14 sites (lakes and mires) located within the former Eastern Settlement of Norse Greenland (c. 60.9° N, 45.5° W).MethodsMaps are presented displaying palynological data for three taxa (Rumex acetosella, Polygonum aviculare and Achillea millefolium), which earlier scholars have argued are ‘Old Norse’ anthropochores. The maps display pollen frequencies at regular (c. 100-year) intervals across a period (ad 800–1500) encompassing Norse settlement.ResultsMaps for c. ad 800 and 900 (prior to Norse arrival) display the taxa as locally absent, with the appearance and expansion of their pollen at multiple sites from c. ad 1000 (landnám) providing support for the assumption that each taxon arrived with the first settlers. A general and widespread decline in pollen frequencies for these ‘Old Norse’ elements on the c. ad 1500 map (following Norse abandonment) demonstrates a close connection between these plants and a cultural landscape that was shaped and maintained predominantly via animal husbandry.Main conclusionsPatterns emerging from this exercise may initiate wider debates related to the pattern and character of the Norse colonization of Greenland. It is suggested that differences in the function or role of farm sites could have led to the creation of greater areas of favourable habitat for ‘Old Norse’ flora in some locations relative to others, and that uneven patterns of colonization and the spread of ‘Old Norse’ plants might be explained if their introduction – presumably from Iceland – first occurred at only a few locations.

KW - Achillea millefolium

KW - anthropochores

KW - Greenland

KW - Iceland

KW - landnám

KW - Norse

KW - palaeoecology

KW - pollen

KW - Polygonum aviculare

KW - Rumex acetosella

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U2 - 10.1111/jbi.12067

DO - 10.1111/jbi.12067

M3 - Article

VL - 40

SP - 1119

EP - 1130

JO - Journal of Biogeography

JF - Journal of Biogeography

SN - 0305-0270

IS - 6

ER -