I'm not going to make any arguments about the extent or success of Norham, York, or Canterbury's respective pretensions to be patriarch of the Atlantic under the late Wessex kings and the Danes. We've another candidate to make the story more complicated, and that will have to do for now. I have a lacuna, authorised by a crackpots who isn't me.
|If you think the other guys are obscure, check out the "Bishop of Selje."|
|Picture by David Hourston. Source.|
|Uncredited photograph. Probably a fasion of the 1100s. Source.|
|National Museum of Scotland via|
In spite of its name, Munkerhoose dates from the beginning of the Iron Age. The working party has an impressively detailed chronology of the construction phases, which may have ended with the beginning of "ecclesiastical activities," either underneath the chapel or in the "farm mound" just north of it, still studded with loose masonry after generations of robbing. At the height of the craze for "anthropogenic soils," a rich layer of soil at the edge of the Iron Age settlement was identified as part of the "Church economic package," by analogy with a similar feature at Iona, but on mature reflection it is very hard to explain its undisturbed nature given its close proximity to a "high status site." It is capped with ash, indicating a brief period of intensive fish processing, studded with more masonry, perhaps from the demolition of a substantial construction in preparation for erecting the modern chapel.
Continuing the argument that has slowly climbed up the coast, Papa Westray is "said to be" the likeliest site for an Orkney bishopric which might have formed the ecclesiastical partner of a state actor capable of enough friction with the Pictish kings of Fortriu as to be compelled to give up hostages, as recorded by Bede. The Project thinks that it was chosen as a jumping off point for the Shetlands, which is a nice theory that I'd like to buy into, but see below. Having dropped seventeen bucks on Carolyn Wickham-Jones' Orkney: A Historical Guide, I want to say nice things about the book while discouraging anyone else from the same venture. The "Pictish" Orkneys are an obscure period. The best source for information is the Papar Project, and, at this point, I think that's all there is to know. Between the rise of Birsay and St. Magnus', and the rapid buildup of anthropogenic soils during the Norse period, we are left hoping for chance finds of sculpture, skepticism over "typological" dating notwithstanding, or for further progress in archaeochemistry.
|Now this species is the one you'd expect|
in a ritual feast deposit context.
By Mike Pennington, CC BY-SA 2.0,
Yes, it is Neolithic, and, yes, I would not, myself, consider this definitive proof of extraction of sea mammal products for long-distance exchange, but from the Ness of Brodgar down to St. Magnus' Cathedral, the Orkneys show evidence for an extraordinary level of social organisation, and a hierarchy-building long distance luxury trade is the most likely explanation. The identity of that resource is unclear and probably changed with the era, but Niall Sharples has a striking observation: the Iron Age timbered hall on the Lofotens was built with a prodigious amount of North American spruce, driftwood brought down by the primordial floods of the old Eastern Woodlands (topical!). Papa Westray's prominent and exposed position probably made it a magnet for driftwood. Rich in this resource, and likely others associated with its northerly and exposed location.
Now, as a final move, west across the flood to Newfoundland, presumably dancing on the logs jamming the pre-Columbian St. Lawrence. David Pike, "mathematics professor and genealogist," has found the mitochondrial DNA marker, H5a5, in association with "another genetic mutation" in about a tenth of the 264 Newfoundlanders. Otherwise known from only ten European samples, all people with links to Newfoundland and Labrador. This inspired me to venture into the depths of the Law Library to find Jerry Bannister's The Rule of the Admirals: Law, Custom and Naval Government in Newofundland, 1699--1832. It isn't exactly the best source for the early history of Newfoundland, but it's not like we have much in the way of data going beyond the court records that Jerry explored and interrogated. (Also, he's an old school buddy.) As far as we know, the permanent population of the outports descends from assorted colonists brought over in numerous attempts to establish permanent settlements on the Newfoundland during the first half of the 1600s. Given that there were only 3000 permanent inhabitants of the island in 1727, we have plenty of room for a "founders effect" to spread a rare gene through a larger population.
The question is where H5a5 comes from, and when it arrived. The National Post article linked above seems to be doing its best to imply that it is a Beothuk gene; which I suppose makes sense given the paper. Anything rather than admit that early Canadians were immigrants, probably sneaking across the Atlantic-Newfoundland border in search of generous Archaeo-Canadian welfare benefits and free medicare.