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Remnants of Viking Age Tundra in Spitsbergen and Northern Scandinavia

Stanisław Baranowski and Wibjörn Karlén
Geografiska Annaler. Series A, Physical Geography
Vol. 58, No. 1/2 (1976), pp. 35-40
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography
DOI: 10.2307/520741
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/520741
Page Count: 6
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Remnants of Viking Age Tundra in Spitsbergen and Northern Scandinavia
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Abstract

Fossil tundra fragments consisting chiefly of moss (Rhacomitrium lanuginosum -- 60%, Dicranum -- 20%) were found in the forefield of Werenskioldbreen during the glaciological investigations of the Polish Scientific Spitsbergen Expedition. The vegetation formed a cover about 5 cm thick and occurred between two till layers. The samples taken for radiocarbon analysis in 1973 came from a position 25 m a.s.l., located about 450 m from the glacier front. In 1957 the fossil tundra was still completely covered by ice. The average age of the whole stratum was dated to 1080 ± 105 years B.P. (St-4695). The age of the upper part of this layer was dated to 760 ± 145 years B.P. (Gd-264), and the lower part to 1565 ± 235 (St-5068). Tundra fragments of similar age (I-7578: 1095 ± 85 years B.P.) have also been found between two till layers at the front of Årjep Ruotesjekna in Swedish Lapland. The results indicate that during the Viking Age Spitsbergen and northern Scandinavia experienced a warm period with distinct glacier retraction and well-developed tundra on the glacier forefields. This period was preceded by a marked, long-lasting glacier advance and followed by an equally extensive, but shorter advance.

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