The Vikings in Islay: The Place of Names in Hebridean Settlement History

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The Hebridean island of Islay is well-known for its whisky, its wildlife and its association with the MacDonald Lords of the Isles. There would seem to be little reason to dwell on its fate at the hands of marauding Northmen during the Viking Age. Despite a pivotal location on the ‘sea road’ from Norway to Ireland, there are no convincing records of the Vikings ever having been there. The Vikings in Islay presents a systematic review of around 240 of the island’s farm and nature names. The conclusions drawn turn traditional assumptions on their head. The romance of Islay’s names, it seems, masks a harrowing tale of invasion, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

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400

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