Viking Age Migration
Genes of Gallgoídil Research Project
This project established a cross-disciplinary network of academics from both humanist and scientific backgrounds that conducts research into the complex linkages between ethnicity and migration in the North Atlantic during the Viking Age.
Recent studies (Goodacre et al. 2005) have shown that a substantial part of the modern Icelandic population has genes whose origins overlap those of modern Celtic populations in Ireland and Scotland. A likely significant factor contributing to this degree of shared identity is the migration of Irish and other Celtic groups during the Viking Age. Current historical models suggest that such large-scale movement of people should have left their mark in terms of language borrowing and material culture, and yet the paucity of evidence for an insular impact on Iceland in these fields is startling. This absence of evidence leads to a fundamental question of the nature of migration in the first millennium, which has hitherto been left unexplored.
In seeking to understand more fully the nature of the links between the Icelandic colonists and the Celtic populations of these islands, the network has begun with a study of Viking settlements in Ireland. In particular, we have focused our attention not on the initial contacts but on the nature of the acculturation processes and migration patterns in the tenth and eleventh centuries. It is our belief that the so-called “Ostman” colonies of Ireland and Britain with their Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon and Gaelic-speaking backgrounds provides the context for understanding insular migrations to Iceland as well as the mixed origins of Hiberno-Norse culture in Ireland .
The group has focused their attention on modern research in the field of genetics which has highlighted the varying patterns of Scandinavian settlement across the different regions of Britain and Ireland and the importance of this in understanding the contribution of Norse speakers to the history of these islands.