Human Ecology

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 621–650 | Cite as

A Hypothesis-Based Approach to Landscape Change in Suðuroy, Faroe Islands

  • Kevin J. Edwards
  • Douglas Borthwick
  • Gordon Cook
  • Andrew J. Dugmore
  • Kerry-Ann Mairs
  • Mike J. Church
  • Ian A. Simpson
  • W. Paul Adderley


Hovsdalur, an area delimited by the great cirques of upland central Suðuroy, draining into the valley of the Hovsá and terminating in the east at the coastal amphitheatre of Hovsfjø rdur, is a microcosm of the Faroes. The area contains the physical and economic features which characterize the greater part of the island group—mountain, valley, and coast, and marine, cultivation, and grazing environments. Data comprising mainly geomorphological, palynological, and pedological evidence, covering the period prior to and subsequent to the initial Norse settlement (landnám), are used to test a series of hypotheses which exemplify the human ecology of the area. Not all the hypotheses, or aspects of them, proved acceptable—the Norse period clearly coincided with a number of vegetational and pedological changes, but this must be set partly against a backdrop of long-term geomorphological activity.

Key Words

Faroe Islands palaeoenvironments hypothesis-testing Norse 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin J. Edwards
    • 1
  • Douglas Borthwick
    • 1
  • Gordon Cook
    • 2
  • Andrew J. Dugmore
    • 3
  • Kerry-Ann Mairs
    • 3
  • Mike J. Church
    • 3
  • Ian A. Simpson
    • 4
  • W. Paul Adderley
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Geography and Environment and Northern Studies CentreUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK
  2. 2.SUERC Radiocarbon Dating LaboratoryScottish Universities Environmental Research CentreEast KilbrideUK
  3. 3.Institute of Geography, School of GeoSciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  4. 4.School of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK

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