Genes of Gallgoídil: Cross-disciplinary Studies of Migration of Irish, Hiberno-Norse and other Gaelic-speaking populations in the Viking Age

Genes of Gallgoídil:

The end of the project The project is now closed, but the discussion continues. Over the period of the project we have foudn that oen of the fundamental problems of cross-disciplinary research is the lack of understanding of methods and theories. The discussion in the network have helped us to understand each other's research better. This is certainly not the last time we have worked together. We have presented the project at several events and the enxt one is the Midlands Viking Symposium which will take place in Dublin this year. For a registration form please click here: mvs2011final.pdf

Cross-disciplinary Studies of Migration of Irish, Hiberno-Norse and other Gaelic-speaking populations in the Viking Age

This project will establish a cross-disciplinary network of academics that will examine in detail linkages between ethnicity and migration among the mixed population of Irish, British and Norse who created the so-called “Ostman” colonies of Ireland and Britain and which, in turn, is thought to have provided the context for insular migration to Iceland. The specific objective is:

  • to create a forum for scientists and humanist researchers (e.g geneticists, stable isotope researchers, linguists and archaeologists) to define migration within cross-disciplinary paradigms, and to establish a research network for this purpose among hitherto unconnected disciplines.
  • the identification of a case study or shared research project which will enable an examination of how the different disciplines can contribute to a better understanding of migration. The shared research project would form a second stage to the project and would be undertaken beyond the timeframe of the network grant.

Recent studies (Goodacre et al. 2005) have shown that a substantial part of the modern Icelandic population has genes whose origins overlap those of modern Celtic populations in Ireland and Scotland. A likely significant factor contributing to this degree of shared identity is the migration of Irish and other Celtic groups during the Viking Age. Current historical models suggest that such large-scale movement of people should have left their mark in terms of language borrowing and material culture, and yet the paucity of evidence for an insular impact on Iceland in these fields is startling. This absence of evidence leads to a fundamental question of the nature of migration in the first millennium, which has hitherto been left unexplored.

Aims and Objectives

  • To create a cross-disciplinary skilled network to identifying and classify past population movements.
  • To establish a forum in which models of population movement drawn from the historical and linguistic sciences are compared and contrasted with the genetic and staple isotope evidence.
  • To identify regional study areas to test prevailing hypotheses concerning the genetic and cultural evidence for Viking period migrations.

Central Research Questions:

  • What are the definitions of migration and can these be studied across a range of disciplines?
  • Do the small sample sizes used by geneticists limit their usefulness as valid indicators of historically attested migrations ?
  • Do linguistic and onomastic studies make sufficient allowance for the possibility of secondary migrations from outside the original Scandinavian homelands?
  • Are signatures from isotope analysis comparable to archaeological ones (i.e. does a person with a ‘rich’ burial show evidence for better diet)?

Contacts Details


School of English Studies, University of Nottingham - Visit their website Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick - Visit their website


* Conference Pre-Reading Papers - Delegates only

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