Saving the Story of Medieval Icelandic Fishery Development: Siglunes as a Case Study

Author(s): Ramona Harrison

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Accelerating Environmental Change Threats to Cultural Heritage: Serious Challenges, Promising Responses" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The combination of deep sea fishing and dried fish production, and its distribution to inland consumers, is a distinctive and largely Nordic contribution to European diet and economy of eventual global impact in the 14th -17th centuries. One of the main questions is how and when this Viking Age pattern of marine resource use became integrated into the growing stockfish trade of the Medieval Period. Threatened by modern coastal erosion, the site of Siglunes, North Iceland offers a most unusual opportunity to consider the development of commercial fisheries in its local environmental and cultural context. Erosion reveals a well-stratified archaeofaunal record that provides insights into the Atlantic marine ecosystem before Early Modern commercial whaling and through the major climatic shifts of the MCA LIA. Siglunes has excellent organic preservation conditions, resulting in the recovery of significant amounts of well-preserved marine and terrestrial mammal, fish, and bird bone. The Siglunes deposits, dated by AMS radiocarbon, volcanic tephra, artifacts, and documentary sources, span the 9th to early 20th centuries AD. They thus represent a major archive for zooarchaeology, cultural and environmental history, and for fisheries biology and marine mammal conservation science.

Cite this Record

Saving the Story of Medieval Icelandic Fishery Development: Siglunes as a Case Study. Ramona Harrison. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451334)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -26.016; min lat: 53.54 ; max long: 31.816; max lat: 80.817 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 26026