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The Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands were the first largely uninhabited lands in the North Atlantic Ocean that the Vikings reached in the main, westward part of their expansion. The Faroes, which jut out abruptly from the ocean, are located about halfway between northern Scotland and eastern Iceland.

An Irish monk, writing in 825, says that they had been inhabited by Irish monks for generations, but that these holy men left the islands when the pagan Norse settled in, a feat treated as already accomplished by that point. The Norse named the islands the Færeyjar, “Sheep Islands.” The islands were treeless, so the settlers built their homes out of turf and rock. The islands’ economy was heavily dependent on livestock and harvesting the products of the sea, particularly fish, whales, and birds.