Farming practices in pre-modern Iceland

McCooey, Bernadette (2017). Farming practices in pre-modern Iceland. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis re-evaluates farming practices in Iceland up to c.l600. Advancing Þorvaldur Thoroddsen's early twentieth century work, Lýsing Íslands, this study incorporates modem archaeological investigations, documentary evidence and recent scholarship to advance the discussions of lceland's livestock economy.

The study examines farms and their land to give a holistic understanding of pastoral farming and fodder acquisition. An evaluation of the textual sources demonstrates long-term stability in the relative livestock values, though the kúgildi fluctuated in value. Herd sizes and the composition of these herds are also examined to show the purpose of these animals. The vast corpus of máldagar are analysed to show the economies of church-farms (staðir and bændakirkjur), including the changing nature of livestock farming between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries, on local, regional and countrywide scales. Livestock products and consumption beyond the much discussed milk, meat and wool economies are critiqued.
It is here argued that Icelandic farming generally moved towards a wool-producing economy, however, masked by this wool economy generalisation were a diversity of farming practices. It is only by examining the complexities of these practices that we discover that Icelandic farming was not declining, but adapting to the challenges of this period.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, Other
Other Funders: The Viking Society for Northern Research
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DL Northern Europe. Scandinavia


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