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Book: Early Economy and Settlement in Northern Europe

Chapter: The Pioneer Colonisation of Northern Norway

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.30726


The pioneer colonisation of the counties Nordland, Troms and Finnmark took place over a fairly short time span c. 11,600-11,000 cal. BP (c. 9550-9050 BC) and considering the vast distances covered, displays a relatively homogeneous technology and settlement pattern. However the survey and excavation histories of the counties are very dissimilar – even more so when compared with bordering areas in Sweden, Finland and Russia - thereby presenting us with an uneven record of early expansion. Very few radiocarbon dated inland sites have so far been found, an exception being the Sujala site in northernmost Finnish Lapland. This bias towards a coastal environment is partly due to survey focus and to a certain degree modern day borders, but is largely a result of the timing of settlement in relation to the deglaciation of northern Norway. There was a western pioneer expansion from southern Norway over a period of c. 500 years. The oldest dated sites are however in the easternmost parts of Finnmark – indicating a distinct slightly earlier pioneer expansion from the east. Based on a review of recent geological literature on the deglaciation of northern Fennoscandia and recent archaeological data from northern Norway as well as Sweden, Finland and Russia, the pioneer colonisation of the three northernmost counties will be re-examined in the light of a western and eastern route of colonisation, respectively.

Chapter Contributors

  • Jan Kleppe ( - jkleppe) 'Finnmark County Authority, Vadsø, Norway'