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Are There Echoes of the AD 536 Event in the Viking Ragnarok Myth? A Critical Appraisal

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Recent scholarship suggests that the Nordic apocalypse, Ragnarok, can be linked historically to one or several geological or climate events in the sixth century ad. Climatic fluctuations and a 'dust veil' during the period of ad 536-550 have been recorded across the Northern Hemisphere, and in Scandinavia this seems to coincide with considerable changes in settlement patterns. Consequently, much later literary sources on Nordic mythology have been interpreted as local memories of the cooling of the Northern Hemisphere. In this article we offer a critical perspective on the combining of Nordic literary sources from the thirteenth century with archaeological records of the sixth century. We address the need for developing a viable method within the scope of what we identify as the palaeoenvironmental humanities perspective on past ecological changes. By defining a palaeoenvironmental humanities perspective through the interdisciplinary conjoining of archaeology, social theory and literature, we attempt to strike a balance between material and non-material sources in the study of pre-historical environmental changes.

Keywords: Nordic mythology; Ragnarok; Scandinavian pre-history; the 'dust veil' event; the AD 536 event

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2018

This article was made available online on January 4, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Are There Echoes of the ad 536 Event in the Viking Ragnarok Myth? A Critical Appraisal".

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2021) of 0.925. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.902.
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