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Thread: Norse-Gaels

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    Norse-Gaels

    Norse-Gaels


    The Norse-Gaels were a people who dominated much of the Irish Sea region and western Scotland for a large part of the Middle Ages, who were of Scandinavian and Norse origin and as a whole exhibited a great deal of Gaelic and Norse cultural syncretism. They are generally known by the Gaelic name which they themselves used, of which "Norse-Gaels" is a translation. This term is subject to a large range of variations depending on chronological and geographical differences in the Gaelic language, i.e. Gall Gaidel, Gall Gaidhel, Gall Gaidheal, Gall Gaedil, Gall Gaedhil, Gall Gaedhel, Gall Goidel, etc, etc. The terminology was used both by native Irish and native Scots who wished to alienate them, and by the Norse-Gaels themselves who wished to stress their Scandinavian heritage and their links with Norway and other parts of the Scandinavian world. The nativised presence of Norsemen in Ireland also lent at least one self-reference, that of Ostmen. Other modern translations used include Scoto-Norse, Hiberno-Norse and Foreign Gaels.

    The Norse-Gaels originated in Viking colonies of Ireland and Scotland who became subject to the process of Gaelicization, whereby starting as early as the ninth century, most intermarried with native Gaels (except for the Norse who settled in Cumbria) and adopted the Gaelic language as well as many other Gaelic customs. Many left their original worship of Norse gods and converted to Christianity, and this contributed to the Gaelicization. Gaelicized Scandinavians dominated the Irish Sea region until the Norman era of the twelfth century, founding long-lasting kingdoms, such as the Kingdoms of Man, Argyll, Dublin, York and Galloway. The Lords of the Isles, a Lordship which lasted until the sixteenth century, as well as many other Gaelic rulers of Scotland and Ireland, traced their descent from Norse-Gaels. The Norse-Gaels settlement in England was concentrated in the [[North West England|North West]

    Ireland

    The Norse are first recorded in Ireland in 795 when they sacked Lambay Island. Sporadic raids then continued until 832, after which they began to build fortified settlements throughout the country. Norse raids continued throughout the tenth century, but resistance to them increased. They suffered several defeats at the hands of Malachy II, and in 1014 Brian Boru broke the power of the Norse permanently at Clontarf.

    The Norse established independent kingdoms in Dublin. Waterford. Wexford, Cork and Limerick. These kingdoms did not survive the subsequent Norman invasions, but the towns continued to grow and prosper. The Norse became fully absorbed into the religious and political life of Ireland.

    Iceland and the Faroes

    It is recorded in the Landnamabok that there were papar or culdees in Iceland before the Norse, and this appears to tie in with comments of Dicuil. However, whether or not this is true, the settlement of Iceland and the Faroe islands by the Norse would have included many Norse-Gaels, as well as slaves, servants and wives. They were called "Vestmen", and the name is retained in Vestmanna in the Faroes, and the Vestmannaeyjar off the Icelandic mainland, where it is said that Irish slaves escaped to. ("Vestman" may have referred to the lands and islands "west" of mainland Scandinavia.)

    A number of Icelandic personal names are of Gaelic origin, e.g. Njáll Þorgeirsson of Njáls saga had a forename of Gaelic origin - Niall. Patreksfjörður, an Icelandic village also contains the name "Padraig".

    According to some circumstantial evidence, Grímur Kamban, seen as the founder of the Norse Faroes, may have been a Norse Gael.

    "According to the Faereyinga Saga... the first settler in the Faroe Islands was a man named Grímur Kamban - Hann bygdi fyrstr Færeyar, it may have been the land taking of Grímur and his followers that cauysed the anchorites to leave... the nickname Kamban is probably Gaelic and one interpretation is that the word refers to some physical handicap, another that it may point to his prowess as a sportsman. Probably he came as a young man to the Faroe Islands by way of Viking Ireland, and local tradition has it that he settled at Funningur in Eysturoy."

    Modern names

    Even today, many surnames connected particularly with Gaeldom are of Norse origin, especially in the Western Isles and Isle of Man.

    Surnames

    Gaelic Anglicised form "Son of-"
    MacAsgaill MacAskill Ásketill
    MacAmhlaigh MacAulay, MacAuliffe Óláfr
    MacCorcadail MacCorquodale/Corquadale, Corkill, McCorkindale Þorketill
    MacIomhair MacIver, MacIvor Ívarr (Ingvar)
    MacShitrig[3] MacKitrick, McKittrick Sigtryggr
    MacLeòid MacLeod Ljótr (lit. "the ugly one")[4]

    Forenames

    Gaelic Anglicised form Norse equivalent
    Amhlaibh (confused with the Gaelic name Amhlaidh/Amhalghaidh) Aulay (Olaf) Óláfr
    Goraidh Gorrie (Godfrey, Godfred), Orree (Isle of Man) Godfriðr
    Iomhar Ivor Ívarr (Ingvar)
    Raghnall Ranald (Ronald, Randall) Rögnvaldr
    Somhairle Sorley (sometimes Englished as "Samuel") Sumarliði (Somerled)
    Tormod NA (Englished as "Norman") Þormundr
    Torcuil Torquil Torkill, Þorketill

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norse-Gaels


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    Well there still there in the Orkneys though all English speakers now.Germanc and Celtic mixing was as common as warring in antiquity many of the ancient tribes of Northwest Europe were combinations of both people In some cases the Romans could not discern if they were Celt or German such as the Cimbri who combined with Teutons handed Rome the greatest defeat in its History and greatest defeat of Ancient History the battle of Arausio where they and their Teuton allies killed over 110,000 Romans.
    I am a descendant of Thorfinn Yarl of Orkney(as is most anyone of Scottish, Cumbrian or Northumbrian blood).
    As most people think in terms of nation states but those are recent developments. The Celts and Germanic people have been merging everywhere over northwest Europe from about 200 B.C. to 1100 aD. Recently I had a DNA test looking for deep ancestry that is similar genetic clades to mine. I match this against my genealogical information. It matched fairly well indeed. It showed clades in Sweden, Germany, Wales Ireland and Scotland. Also in Belgium, Netherlands and in Lille France. Well of course those are the lands of the Celtic tribes the Belgae, who were later overrun by the Goths, then Vikings. Of course there's always a surprise in those things, mine was one great grandparent turned out to be a mixture of Austrian and Hungarian and some Polish influence from areas that were predominately Germanic like Pomerania. Oddly enough the most common mixtures in United States are Irish and German.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dagna View Post
    The Norse-Gaels settlement in England was concentrated in the North West
    More specifically, Cumberland, Westmorland and the maritime regions of Lancashire.

    There are thus several 'Ireby's in the area. It seems that where I come from, these fellows were just dismissed as 'Irish' rather than anything more qualified! :p

    An important thing to notice is that these regions were intimately connected with the Danish Kingdom of Jorvik (York) on the eastern side of the Pennines (roughly corresponding with modern Yorkshire). The last King was indeed assassinated on his way across Stanemoor - the 'highway' between these zones - probably in an attempt to link up with Irish-Norse allies on the western seaboard.

    Traces remain in Yorkshire toponymy of the Irish Viking impact - notably the town Melmersby - with the Norse endiing -by and the Irish forename Maelmaer.
    MacShitrig[3]
    Delightful... :p
    Sometimes Anglicisation of surnames in Ireland came as a blessing!

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    I have both Orcadian and Faroese heritage so Norse-Gael would be my ancestry too, but was Norn Orkney's language only? xD Sometimes i wonder how many language they had, but i haven't looked it up too much yet.

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    Norse-Gaels? This is a ridiculous term, I hear it for the first time. I think it's a bit exagerated.
    Quote Originally Posted by solbrun View Post
    I have both Orcadian and Faroese heritage so Norse-Gael would be my ancestry too, but was Norn Orkney's language only? xD Sometimes i wonder how many language they had, but i haven't looked it up too much yet.
    Of course, Norn hasn't been Orkney's only language ever, as the islands have been inhabited for many thousand years. Prior to vikings invasion of Orkney its population must have been speaking some kind of Celtic and/or Pictish (depends on whether we consider Pictish a Celtic language or something totally different). What languages existed in Orkney before Picts is absolutely beyond our knowledge. After Pictish there was Old Norse, which gradually turned into Norn, and then was succeeded by Scots English with which it mixed a lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenIce View Post
    Norse-Gaels? This is a ridiculous term, I hear it for the first time. I think it's a bit exagerated.
    Why is it a stupid term? As far as I know, the term Foreign-Gael or Norse-Gael existed already back in the middle-ages and was used by the Irish. If you look at old names today in the British Isles and also Iceland, you can see names that have both an Irish and Norse origin combined, also personal names like that still exist. So the Norse-Gaels were probably around back in the day, and they have left many marks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Méldmir View Post
    Why is it a stupid term? As far as I know, the term Foreign-Gael or Norse-Gael existed already back in the middle-ages and was used by the Irish. If you look at old names today in the British Isles and also Iceland, you can see names that have both an Irish and Norse origin combined, also personal names like that still exist. So the Norse-Gaels were probably around back in the day, and they have left many marks.
    Why I don't like the term, as it is exposed in the beginning of this topic, is because it makes believe there was a "creole" ethnic group which spread out from Irish Sea to Iceland. This is what I consider to be an exaggeration (although it could possibly apply to the inhabitants of Hebrides and close areas who inherit both Goidhelic and Norse traits).

    In this respect you should be careful with placenames. F.ex if we speak about Iceland many of its "Celtic" placenames refer to Irish munks who came to Iceland for reclusion and when the Norse colonisation started, the Irish prefered to leave. No "Gaelic-Norse" alliance was formed, as you see.

    Let's consider another example, Patreksfjörđur. The fiord was named after St. Patrick which was the spiritual guide of the first settler at that place. So the naming of the place didn't involve any "physical" Gael, being just a witness about British/Irish roots of Christianity in Iceland.

    It is also known that vikings took slaves and women from Gaelic areas in British Isles and brought them to Faroes, Iceland etc. Some of these slaves were set free and continued living with Norsemen. However, the low number of Celtic loanwords in Icelandic and Faroese makes us suppose that these Gaels were quick to dissolve among Norsemen, leaving just a few personal names (Kjartan, Njáll,...) and placenames (f.ex. Dímon).

    But that's just another proof that vikings, like many other invadors groups of those times (Huns, Goths etc) were not 100% ehtnically clean.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenIce View Post
    Why I don't like the term, as it is exposed in the beginning of this topic, is because it makes believe there was a "creole" ethnic group which spread out from Irish Sea to Iceland. This is what I consider to be an exaggeration (although it could possibly apply to the inhabitants of Hebrides and close areas who inherit both Goidhelic and Norse traits).

    In this respect you should be careful with placenames. F.ex if we speak about Iceland many of its "Celtic" placenames refer to Irish munks who came to Iceland for reclusion and when the Norse colonisation started, the Irish prefered to leave. No "Gaelic-Norse" alliance was formed, as you see.

    Let's consider another example, Patreksfjörđur. The fiord was named after St. Patrick which was the spiritual guide of the first settler at that place. So the naming of the place didn't involve any "physical" Gael, being just a witness about British/Irish roots of Christianity in Iceland.

    It is also known that vikings took slaves and women from Gaelic areas in British Isles and brought them to Faroes, Iceland etc. Some of these slaves were set free and continued living with Norsemen. However, the low number of Celtic loanwords in Icelandic and Faroese makes us suppose that these Gaels were quick to dissolve among Norsemen, leaving just a few personal names (Kjartan, Njáll,...) and placenames (f.ex. Dímon).

    But that's just another proof that vikings, like many other invadors groups of those times (Huns, Goths etc) were not 100% ehtnically clean.
    Ok ok, but an exaggaration isn't the same as the term being silly. If the Norse-Gaels did exist, even if it was only in and around the Hebrides, the term is not wrong. What influence they may have had on Iceland doesn't really matter, even though they may have actually ruled both Iceland and the Faroes for some time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Méldmir View Post
    Ok ok, but an exaggaration isn't the same as the term being silly. If the Norse-Gaels did exist, even if it was only in and around the Hebrides, the term is not wrong.
    Well, I didn't use the word 'silly', it was you who took it up

    My objection was not directed at the fact that there was a mixed Norse-Gael group somewhere in Irish Sea. In fact it's not a big deal at all, there's been such creole mixtures between Scots and Gaels, Scots and Norsemen, Picts and Gaels etc. etc. But this article makes us believe that Norse-Gaels, instead of being a small local group, reigned in the whole North Atlantic and gave names to places like Patreksfjörđur, Vestmannaeyjar etc. That's certainly overstated and based on misunderstanding.

    What influence they may have had on Iceland doesn't really matter, even though they may have actually ruled both Iceland and the Faroes for some time.
    "Norse-Gaels" ruled in Iceland? Iceland didn't obey any external power until it joined Kingdom of Norway in 1262. As I've said, there's very few Celtic borrowings in Icelandic, which only can mean Norsemen who were coming to this place were absolutely dominating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenIce View Post

    "Norse-Gaels" ruled in Iceland? Iceland didn't obey any external power until it joined Kingdom of Norway in 1262. As I've said, there's very few Celtic borrowings in Icelandic, which only can mean Norsemen who were coming to this place were absolutely dominating.

    Well, I read that Aud the Deep-Minded may have ruled at least a part of Iceland, and she may have been a part of this group (note "may". As well as Grímur Kamban, founder of the Faroe Islands. More on that on wikipedia. But of course it's just speculation since we don't know so much about that part of history. But I wouldn't be suprised if the Norse-Gaels had infleucne in Iclenad and the Faroes as well, if one looks both at the genetic make up of these regions and historic legends.

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