Anthropology, Department of


First Advisor

Heather Richards-Rissetto

Date of this Version

Spring 4-29-2022

Document Type



A thesis presented to the faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Arts

Major: Anthropology

Under the supervision of Professor Heather Richards-Rissetto

Lincoln, Nebraska, May 2022


Copyright © 2022, Trent Michael Carney


During the Viking Age, settlements and trading centers were often located near lakes, seas, waterways, and sailing routes. As such, access to other locations was facilitated, whether for the purpose of settlement, trade, resource acquisition, or conflict, by some form of seafaring vessel or watercraft. Over the course of the Scandinavian Diaspora, a level of cultural and economic interconnectedness was maintained between mainland Scandinavia and the settlements in the North Atlantic region. This shared link with Scandinavia contributed to the development of local connections between insular and coastal sites within the broader diasporic network. This thesis considers the archaeological evidence for insular interconnectivity during the Viking Age ca. 790-1066 CE in the British Isles and North Atlantic, as well as the potential for using a GIS-based joint visibility and mobility model that depicts the experiential use of, and interaction between, past landscapes and seascapes while maintaining a quantitative approach. This is considered through the evaluation of intervisibility between a mobile sailing ship entering the mouth of Grutness Voe and the occupants of the Norse farmstead at the Jarlshof archaeological site, Mainland, Shetland over the course of its occupation ca.850-1200 CE. The results of this research support the argument that the investigation of the diasporic maritime communities of the Viking Age can benefit from the use geospatial technology to evaluate insular interconnectivity and to better conceptualize broader patterns within those extensive maritime networks. Broadly speaking, these findings can also inform our understanding of coastal and insular populations in the past, and the way that they have engaged with their environment, both aqueous and terrestrial.

Advisor: Heather Richards-Rissetto