A study claims that the Vikings are not the only ones who reached the Faroe Islands. Celts from Ireland and Scotland were there around 350 years ago.

A new piece of evidence found at the bottom of North Atlantic Archipelago’s lake suggests an unidentified group arrived in 500 AD.

According to researchers, the Celts may have settled in the area. They would have traveled across the unexplored waters from the British Isles.

Faroes is a tiny, isolated archipelago located about halfway between Norway and Iceland. It lies approximately 200 miles north of Scotland. 

It is not known if there were ever any indigenous inhabitants, so it remains uninhabited up to the present. 

According to archaeological evidence, the Vikings reached the islands first around 850 AD. Shortly after that they invented long-distance sailing technology.

This settlement could have been a stepstone for the Viking colonization of Iceland in 874 and Greenland by their brief occupation of Greenland around 980. 

Columbia University scientists led the new study. It was based upon lake sediments that contained signs of domestic sheep appearing around 500 A.D., long before Norse occupation. 

The Vikings were not the first humans to reach the Faroe Islands (pictured) because Celts from either Scotland or Ireland got there 350 years earlier, a new study has claimed

A new study claims that the Vikings weren’t the first people to visit the Faroe Islands. Instead, Celts from Ireland or Scotland arrived there 350 years before the Vikings.

New evidence from the bottom of a lake in the remote North Atlantic archipelago suggests an unknown group of people, thought to be Celts, arrived around 1,500 years ago in 500 AD. Past archaeological excavations have indicated the Vikings first reached the islands around 850 AD

The bottom of a North Atlantic archipelago lake has revealed new evidence that an unknown group, believed to have been Celts arriving around 1,500 year ago. The Vikings arrived on the islands in the 850st year, according to past archaeological excavations.


From 700 AD to 1100 AD, the Viking Age was a period in European history.

This period saw many Vikings leave their Scandinavian homes and travel by longboats to Britain and Ireland.

The Viking longboats were first seen by the British people. They welcomed them to Britain. 

The Vikings, however, attacked the people of the area, burning down buildings and stealing churches.

British people called them “Danes”, but the invaders came not only from Denmark, but also Norway and Sweden.

The name ‘Viking’ comes from a language called ‘Old Norse’ and means ‘a pirate raid’.

The first Viking raid recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was around 787 AD.

That was the beginning of a fierce battle between the Anglo-Saxons (or Vikings)

Previously, the islands did not host any mammals, domestic or otherwise — the sheep could have arrived only with people. 

This is not the first paper to suggest that somebody else reached the Faroes in the time before the Vikings. However, the authors of the paper claim the study proves this theory.  

Lorelei Curtin (lead author) said that she sees this as “putting the nail in a coffin” because people existed before Vikings. She was completing the research at Lamont-Doherty as grad student. 

According to her, the Faroese look wild and rugged today but almost every inch of vegetation was chewed up in the Faroese’s Faroese flock, which are a mainstay of their Faroese diet. 

Researchers confirmed that pre-Norse remains have not been found beyond the initial discovery of barley grain grains. 

Faroes contains very few suitable sites for settlement. These are mainly areas that lie at the top of protected bays and where the Norse could have built on previous habitations.

William D’Andrea from Lamont-Doherty, paleoclimatologist and co-leader of the study, stated:The biomarkers and DNA of sheep appear simultaneously. It is like an on-off switch.

Plantago lanceolata is a weed that’s often found in disturbed and grassy areas. This weed was discovered in Faroes in 2200 BC by researchers. 

This was considered evidence that human presence at the time. The seeds may have been carried by the wind. However, the plant doesn’t need humans to be established. 

Likewise, studies of pollen taken from lake beds and bogs show that some time before the Norse period, woody vegetation largely disappeared — possibly due to persistent chewing by sheep, but it could could have been because of natural climatic changes.

Some Medieval documents suggest that the number of Irish monks who reached the islands was around 500.  

St. Brendan (a famed and well-travelled navigator from early Ireland) was said to be the first to cross the Atlantic between 512 and 530. He allegedly found a land called the Isle of the Blessed.

The new study, which was led by scientists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is based on lake sediments containing signs that domestic sheep (pictured) suddenly appeared around 500 AD, well before the Norse occupation

Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientists conducted the study. They used lake sediments to determine if signs were present in Lake Sediments that indicated domestic sheep had suddenly emerged around 500 AD.

While historians suggest that this could have been the Faroes (or the Far southerly Azores), or the Canary Islands, and even that Brendan did actually reach North America, no evidence is available.

A 2013 Quaternary science reviews study, published in Quaternary Science Review, provided the first evidence of an early occupation. It documented two areas of burnedt peat with charred barley grains that were found beneath the floor of a Viking longhouse located on Sandoy Island. 

The researchers dated the grains to somewhere between 300 and 500 years before the Norse — barley was not previously found on the island, so someone must have brought it. 

This was for many archaeologists a solid evidence of pre-Viking human habitation. However, other experts wanted to verify it before closing the case.

The researchers in this new study used a small vessel to sail out onto a lake near the village of Eiði, the site of an ancient Viking locale on the island of Eysturoy. 

To collect the sediments that had been dropped over many millennia and then built up, they dropped open-ended weighted tubes to their bottom. 

Researchers William D'Andrea (left) and Gregory de Wet with sediment samples from the lake

Gregory de Wet and William D’Andrea, researchers with sediment samples taken from the lake

These cores reached about 9 feet down, recording approximately 10,000 years of environmental history. 

Although the scientists initially set out to understand more about the climate at the Viking period, they were surprised by what came next.

They found evidence that large numbers had arrived suddenly at the 20-inch level, probably sometime between 492 and512 but possible as soon as 370. 

Curtin, D’Andrea, and Curtin think the early settlers might have been Celts. 

They believe that most Faroese names are Celtic, and there are ancient Celtic gravemarks scattered around the islands. 

The DNA analysis of modern Faroese also shows that their paternal lines are predominantly Scandinavian while their maternal lineages tend to be Celtic. 

Other regions in the north Atlantic show this asymmetry — male Viking settlers are thought to have brought Celtic brides with them — but the Faroes have the highest level of maternal Celtic ancestry, suggesting an existing Celtic population that preceded the Vikings.

Kevin Edwards from the University of Aberdeen is an archaeologist, environment researcher, and archaeologist. The new study has ‘proved convincing and thrilling evidence from another archipelago island’ of previous human occupation. 

He said: “Is there similar evidence in Iceland for pre-Norse existence, for which similar arguments and tantalisingly comparable archaeological, pollen-analytical, and human DNA are available?

The research has been published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment.


Celts, a European cultural group, was first discovered in the 8th or 7th centuries BC.

But it is still up for debate who these people were or where they came. 

Although the term “Celtic”, is relatively new, it was first used as an umbrella term to refer to people who shared the same language, culture, and ethnicity in the 19th Century.  

One theory suggests that the people we now call ‘Celts’ came from Austria or Central Europe, but that’s just one theory. 

Studies of DNA from the Celtic population in Britain have shown that it is not an isolated genetic group.

People of Celtic heritage in Scotland and Cornwall are closer to English people than other Celtic groups around the globe.

Both the Celts were called Galli by the Romans and Keltoi by the Greeks, both of which mean barbarians.

Their greatest expansion occurred in the Third-to Fifth Centuries BC. They occupied most of Europe north and west of the Alps.

The Celts were a European cultural group first evident in the 7th or 8th century BC. However, exactly who they were and where they came from is still a source of some debate

Celts are a European cultural group which was discovered for the first time in 7th- or 8th-century BC. Some people still debate who and from where the Celts came.

By the fourth or fifth centuries BC, the Celts had arrived in Britain. They reached Ireland in the Second or Third Century BC, possibly earlier than that.

Galilees, Gauls Britons, Irish and Gallations all were Celtic people.

The Celtic culture survived in these regions longer than it did in Europe. It is still alive today in many aspects.

The expanding Romans conquered various Celtic tribes and took over their culture. 

Julius Ceaser was a victorious commander against the Gauls from 52 to 58 BC. In 54 BC, he invaded Britain, but was unsuccessful at capturing the island.

In 43 AD, ninety-seven year later, the Romans again invaded Britain. They drove the Britons westward into Wales, Cornwall, and North into Scotland. 

Hadrian’s Wall, built in 120AD to defend the Romans against northern Celtic tribes, was completed by the Romans.

The Romans did not invade Ireland or the Anglo-Saxons that invaded Britain in the Fifth Century.

Because of the hill forts, Celtic culture has survived in Ireland more than anywhere else.

Christianity was introduced to Ireland by St Patrick in 432 AD. This helped facilitate the spread of Christianity.

Many cultural aspects of Celtic cultures were integrated with Christianity. 

Druidic practices, the most religious aspect of Celtic culture has been diminished. Many believe that Druids were deliberately suppressed or killed. 

However, cultural elements were not lost. For example, ancient oral tales that Irish monks recorded in Latin as well as Irish, remained intact.

Viking invaders from the Seventh through Ninth Centuries AD disrupted Irish culture. Many cultural elements were also destroyed, including manuscripts that had been stolen from monasteries. 

Many Irish cities were founded by the Vikings, including Dublin and Belfast. But they didn’t really take over the island.

Ireland wasn’t actually occupied until 1160 when Normans invaded England.

British occupation in Ireland continued until 1922. The five Northern counties, also known as Northern Ireland were still part of Britain.

Many aspects of Celtic culture have survived under English occupation, and so Celtic culture in Ireland has continued for over 2,400 years.