THE FAROE ISLANDS
DICUIL, the Irish monk who lived in Francia and who wrote a treatise on geography in the year A.D. 825, is the first to tell of the Faroes, saying that they might be reached from North Britain if the wind were favourable after a voyage two days and two nights long. In these islands, said he, Irish hermits had been wont to dwell for a space of about a hundred years, but at the time when he wrote he supposed that men lived no longer there since Norse robbers had made it impossible for the hermits to stay. Only the sheep, he thought, and the countless sea-birds now inhabited this remote archipelago.
So there were Irishmen in the Faroes as early as about A.D. 700,1 and it was just about a century later that the visits of the vikings drove them forth, these newcomers doubtless giving the archipelago its present name of Faereyjar, Norse words meaning Sheep Islands. But the first Scandinavian colonist of whom there is record was Grim Kamban and it was not until Harald Fairhair's days, towards the end of the ninth century, that he came. In his lifetime he was a renowned person, and after his death the other settlers in the islands are said actually to have worshipped him, believing that his spirit could bring them good seasons; they were impressed, perhaps, by his Christian lore, apart from his natural wisdom and authority, for because his second name (Camman) is Irish it is probable enough that he was a baptized viking who had been directed to the Faroes from Ireland. Yet there must have been others of the early colonists who had learnt something of Christianity from Ireland or Britain, even though the majority may have been heathen who had migrated direct from Norway.
The wealthiest and noblest family of the Faroe Islands were the Gateskeggs (Gatebeards) who dwelt at Gata on Austrey;____________________
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Publication information: Book title: A History of the Vikings. Contributors: T. D. Kendrick - Author. Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1930. Page number: 328.
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