SETTLEMENT CHANGE ACROSS MEDIEVAL EUROPE OLD PARADIGMS AND NEW VISTAS. 2019, 423-434
AD 536 is a poignant date in European history and marks the advent of a series of documented environmental changes that affected societies across Europe in various ways. Sudden and severe climate deterioration led to vast crop failures and was followed by plague epidemics in the following decades. In this article, we examine the timing of the changes in human activity with a detailed investigation of 855 radiocarbon determinations from Vestfold, Norway. The modelled radiocarbon data show a decrease in activity concurrent with the climatic events and plague epidemics that took place in the mid-6th century, and provide another proxy for the significant changes that occurred during this time. The results may support the idea that fimbulvetr was the start of a long-lasting cooling period combined with severe population declines and a dramatic decrease in cultural activity. In the past and present, the investigated area represents a heartland of rural production and settlements in Scandinavia. The time span of the crises is fundamental to our academic understanding of the character and societal impacts of the crises, and this study examines it more precisely than previous work.