The Farfarers

The Farfarers

Before the Norse

Book - 1999 | Seal Books ed. --
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In this provocative bestseller, Farley Mowat challenges the conventional notion that the Vikings were the first Europeans to reach northern Canada. Mowat offers instead an unforgettable portrait of the Albans, a race originating from the island now known as Britain. Battered by repeated invasions from their aggressive neighbours -- Celt, Roman and Norse -- the Albans boarded seaworthy, skin-covered boats and fled west. Their search for safety, and for the massive walrus herds on which their survival depended, took them first to Iceland, then to Greenland, and, finally, to the land now known as Newfoundland and Labrador.
Skillfully weaving together clues gathered from forty years of research, Mowat presents a fascinating account of a forgotten history. The Farfarers affirms Mowat's status as one of Canada's most powerful chroniclers. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Publisher: Toronto : Seal Books, 1999, c1998
Edition: Seal Books ed. --
ISBN: 9780770428433
Characteristics: xvii, 509 p. : ill., maps


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Nov 16, 2018

Mowat contends that an ancient people in Britain fled the Viking invasions and moved west, eventually to North America. He tries to show that these people built stone structures in northern Canada, yet he admits that archaeological excavations at these sites have not turned up any European artifacts. In spite of his conclusions, the historical and archaeological facts that he draws from are interesting.

Jan 08, 2016

Fine theories which may never come to be documented. Mowat introduced me to the word "first-footers."
Reviewers are missing his "dream time" history of the Albans. They abandoned the Atlantic coast of Europe -- probably under pressure of the arriving Celts with their superior tool kit for farming. Mowat calls them Armoricans who subsequently are his Albans in Britain.
It seems to me more likely that the American continents received their name from the Armoricans who navigated and exploited the waters where Phoenicians established no trading entrepots. Why would Europeans name their New World after the first name of the parochial explorer Amerigo Vespucci? "[He] was the first to describe the Western Hemisphere as a previously unknown [!] continent rather than as part of Asia." No one can claim a first -- only that no earlier account has been found. Also, first in writing is not necessarily the first account, which was oral and unwritten. A 1507 map and treatise (in Latin) "was the first to use the name America ... for the region ..." Again, first in writing as far as we know. (Quotes are from Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge.) The Armoricans were preliterate but not ignorant.
By the way, place names called Alba- appear sporadically across Europe to the Caucasus.
The English remember a time when their land was called Albion -- the first-footers before the Celts arrived? Otherwise, what did these people call themselves, and what did the arriving Celts call them?
At a time, Romans used the name Albania for the region of Georgia on the Caspian Sea alongside the Roman Empire. Similarly, the Elbe River, Olbia, Sardinia, Olbia on the Black Sea. Possibly the Alps.
It is believed by some that the Basque language is a remnant of a European speech community who followed the retreating glaciers, quite a while before Indo-Europeans arrived. The hypothesis of Armoricans resembles a community who followed the retreating glaciers as first-footers.

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