Norse Greenland Settlement: Reflections on Climate Change, Trade, and the Contrasting Fates of Human Settlements in the North Atlantic Islands

Andrew J. Dugmore, Christian Keller and Thomas H. McGovern


Changing economies and patterns of trade, rather than climatic deterioration, could have critically marginalized the Norse Greenland settlements and effectively sealed their fate. Counter-intuitively, the end of Norse Greenland might not be symptomatic of a failure to adapt to environmental change, but a consequence of successful wider economic developments of Norse communities across North Atlantic. Data from Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and medieval Iceland is used to explore the interplay of Norse society with climate, environment, settlement, and other circumstances. Long term increases in vulnerability caused by economic change and cumulative climate changes sparked a cascading collapse of integrated interdependent settlement systems, bringing the end of Norse Greenland.

  • Andrew J. Dugmore, Institute of Geography, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh Drummond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9XP, Scotland, UK

  • Christian Keller, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1072 Blindern, Oslo, Norway 0316

  • Thomas H. McGovern, Hunter Bioarchaeology Laboratory, Department of Anthropology Hunter College, City University of New York, 695 Park Ave, NewYork City 10021

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