The Farfarers

The Farfarers

Before the Norse

Book - 1998
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After years of research, sparked by his discovery of roofless ruins in Hudson Bay, Farley Mowat presents a speculative history of the first Europeans in North America, and a challenge to the presently held notion that the Vikings were the first to inhabit northern Canada. During the sixties, on a windblown shore off Hudson Bay, Farley Mowat observed ruins that could not have been left by the Inuit, the only known first inhabitants of the region. Carbon dating placed these ruins hundreds of years before the Vikings landed in Newfoundland, but conventional, accepted historical theory could offer no explanation for them. Mowat's search led him to Scotland and the Northern Isles where he discovered ruins that resembled those he had seen on the other side of the Atlantic. He painstakingly researched early historical accounts from Roman and pre-Roman times for answers, and was able to reconstruct the story of a forgotten people. Fictional accounts of the Albans in their skin-covered boats, venturing ever farther from known shores, in search of the massive walrus herds that were their livelihood, and a place of safety from the warlike Celts and Romans, are woven skilfully into the re-construction. Provocative and controversial, The Farfarers is a beautifully wrought literary adventure that is sure to excite lively debate. It is a book that challenges perceptions and forces the reader to re-think the origins of the North American continent.(1998)
Publisher: Toronto : Key Porter Books, c1998.
ISBN: 9781550139891
Branch Call Number: FIC Mowat
Characteristics: xiv, 377 pages : illustrations, 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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