That Gaelic monasticism flourished in the early medieval period is well established. The "Irish School" penetrated large areas of Europe and contemporary authors describe North Atlantic travels and settlements. Across Scotland and beyond, Celtic-speaking communities spread into the wild and windswept north, marking hundreds of Atlantic settlements with carved and rock-cut sculpture. They were followed in the Viking Age by Scandinavians who dominated the Atlantic waters and settled the Atlantic rim.
With Into the Ocean, Kristjan Ahronson makes two dramatic claims: that there were people in Iceland almost a century before Viking settlers first arrived c. AD 870, and that there was a tangible relationship between the early Christian "Irish" communities of the Atlantic zone and the Scandinavians who followed them. Ahronson uses archaeological, paleoecological, and literary evidence to support his claims, analysing evidence ranging from pap place names in the Scottish islands to volcanic airfall in Iceland. An interdisciplinary analysis of a subject that has intrigued scholars for generations, Into the Ocean will challenge the assumptions of anyone interested in the Atlantic branch of the Celtic world.
List of Illustrations, Tables and Abbreviations
Chapter One: Nineteenth-Century Legacies: Literature, Language and the Imagining of the St. Lawrence Irish
Chapter Two: A Fruitful Conversation Between Disciplines
Chapter Three: Pabbays and Paibles: Pap-Names and Gaelic and Old Norse Speakers in Scotland’s Hebridean Islands
Chapter Four: Seljaland, Vestur-Eyjafjallahreppur, Iceland
Chapter Five: Dating the Cave
Chapter Six: Three Dimensions of Environmental Change
Chapter Seven: The Crosses of a Desert Place?
Kristjan Ahronson is Lecturer in Archaeology at Prifysgol Bangor University in Wales.