During the Viking-Late Norse period (ca. 800–1150 AD), a complex network of cultural connections were forged between Scandinavia and areas of Viking settlement in the North Atlantic. This article focuses on how diaspora communities settling in the Northern Isles of Scotland adapted familiar ways of constructing their settlement landscape to new environments. Viking people in this period lived mostly on the coast and islands. Their dispersed settlements were often developed on natural mounds or mounds created by earlier clusters of buildings. Throughout the Viking-Late Norse age, many such mounds were built up in a tell-like layering of buildings, yards, and middens, visually dominating the surrounding landscape and coastal waters. This article argues that the people building settlement mounds were thus monumentalizing claims to local power. Mounds also physically represented social networks and adapted symbolism already associated with mounds in Scandinavia.
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Vol. 2013 • No. sp4