Norse Coastal Farms Field Report of a Survey in the Southwest “Vatnahverfi Peninsula” Summer 2009 (field report)


Beginning in 2005 as a research project under the IPY, the Vatnahverfi Project initiated a series of

years of renewed field work in the Vatnahverfi region, South Greenland (Arneborg et al. 2009,

Møller&Madsen 2005, 2006, Møller et al. 2007). Continued under a new and broader research

agenda – Resources, Resiliency, and Cultural Identity in Norse Greenland ca.985 – 1450 – though

still coordinated from the Danish National Museum by Jette Arneborg, the field work in

Vatnahverfi has since kept expanding and branching out, yearly bringing into play new research

aims and new research collaborators.

The original aim of the Vatnahverfi Project was to provide a uniform documentation and survey of

the farms and shielings of the area known to the Medieval Norse as Vatnahverfi (the settled area

with many lakes and rivers), in order to facilitate modern analysis of the farms, their place in and

use of the landscape, on a regional scale. This field work was, with minor supplementary surveys,

finished in 2006. However, the brief time spent in the coastal area of the Vatnahverfi and the

interdisciplinary discussions inspired of these experiences, has led to the idea that in order to

understand the settlement system of the Norse, we need to embrace the entire system, not only the

farms in the inner fjords, which have been the focus of archaeological attention since the earliest

days of Norse research. The coastal region was, in fact and as will demonstrated in the following,

fairly densely settled and with farms of considerable size. The location of these farms in areas with

poorer grazing land, but better access to the bounties of the sea, might have been of high importance

in a medieval community that increasingly depended on marine resources, e.g. seals, for their

subsistence. In any case, the farms of the coastal zone has to long been overlooked in the discussion

of the medieval Norse. Thus, one aim and first part of the 2009 field season, running roughly from

the 24


of June - 12


of July (plus the 20




of July), was to survey 20 (though 30 were actually

visited) of the known ruins in the coastal region of the Vatnahverfi Peninsula, i.e. the area between

the fjords Igalikup Kangerlua (Igaliku Fjord) and Agdluitsup Kangerlua (Lichtenau Fjord).

Cite this Record

Norse Coastal Farms Field Report of a Survey in the Southwest “Vatnahverfi Peninsula” Summer 2009 (field report). Christian Koch Madsen, Konrad Smiarowski. NationalMuseet. 2009 ( tDAR id: 3246) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8CN730G

Spatial Coverage

min long: -46.5; min lat: 60 ; max long: -44; max lat: 61.3 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Poul Baltzer Heide; Jette Arneborg; Konrad Smiarowski

Contributor(s): Jette Arneborg; Poul Baltzer Heide

File Information

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vatnahverfifieldreport2009.pdf 13.86mb Oct 16, 2010 10:43:14 AM Public