Relict soils and early arable land management in Lofoten, Norway


Simpson I, Bryant RG & Tveraabak U (1998) Relict soils and early arable land management in Lofoten, Norway. Journal of Archaeological Science, 25 (12), pp. 1185-1198.

Relict arable soils dating fromc.AD700 provide an opportunity to identify early arable land management practices in the agriculturally marginal landscapes of the Lofoten archipelago, northern Norway. Synthesis of field survey and soil thin section micromorphology supported by image analysis suggests that there was deliberate management of erodible sandy soils in sloping locations to create small areas of cultivation terrace, with a range of materials used as soil amendments to stabilize the accumulated soil and enhance fertility. Small areas of sandy soils in more gently sloping locations were also cultivated, again with a range of materials used as amendments and which contributed to a significant increase in soil thickness. The last phase of cultivation commenced during the late 1800s and involved the reclamation of wetter, peaty soils by spade. These patterns of arable land management are repeated in different parts of Lofoten and indicate that despite the climatic and economic marginality of arable activity in Lofoten, land management practices were developed and applied to permit barley production from small areas.

northern Norway; historic cultural landscapes; cultivated soils; manured soils; soil micromorphology; image analysis; pollen analysis

Journal of Archaeological Science: Volume 25, Issue 12

Publication date31/12/1998