Mystery People Beat Vikings to Islands by 500 Years
Vikings apparently not the first to reach Faroe Islands: archaeologists
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2013 11:32 AM CDT
Updated Aug 25, 2013 11:29 AM CDT
Researchers have discovered evidence of human colonization of the Faroes some 300 to 500 years before the large-scale Viking colonization.   (Durham University)

(Newser) – Vikings may have reached the Faroe Islands some 1,200 years ago, but it turns out that was no immortal achievement. New research indicates that mystery settlers beat them there by as many as 500 years. Smithsonian reports that in 2006, archaeologists found burnt barley grains—not indigenous to the land—beneath a Viking longhouse. Carbon dating revealed it to be pre-Viking; researchers believe the barley was burned 300 to 500 years before the Vikings' arrival around 800 AD. It's the first solid proof "there were humans there at the Faroes prior to the big Viking colonization event," archaeologist Mike Church tells LiveScience.

Exactly who the settlers were is unknown, and most evidence would have been destroyed as Vikings likely put longhouses "in the same sorts of places where these early settlers put houses," says Church. Among the possibilities: religious hermits from Ireland, late-Iron Age Scots, or pre-Viking Scandinavians. (The islands sit between Norway, Scotland, and Iceland.) "Maybe these were intrepid explorers arriving from each of those areas," says Church. The Conversation notes the discovery could have intriguing implications: The Faroes were the "first stepping stone" across the North Atlantic, so the find raises the possibility that "Iceland, Greenland, and even North America were colonized earlier than previously thought."

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Showing 3 of 45 comments
Aug 25, 2013 3:10 PM CDT
Not sure exactly what that first sentence is trying to say, but I'm pretty sure it's a misuse of the word "immortal."
Aug 24, 2013 10:06 PM CDT
It was the Green Bay Packers. They always beat the Vikings. The burnt barley is the remains of a tailgate party.
Aug 23, 2013 11:43 PM CDT
If only those "mystery people" stayed instead of those current Neanderthal inhabitants: Sign the petition: 26,711 signatures so far... Every year in a group of islands known as the Faroe Islands — off the coasts of Denmark and Iceland — a whale massacre takes place. Thousands of pilot whales are lured to the shallower waters of the Faroe Island bay. It's at this time that whale hunters slaughter the whales. They slash and stab the whales' outer skin until the surrounding waters turn red with their blood. The Faroe Island massacre is one that dates back to the 1500s and is an event steeped in tradition and a right of passage into manhood for the Faroese. Many people come from all over to watch the slaughter, and when it's done, some eat the whales' meat, some don't. That which is not consumed is simply thrown away.