Following on from my post on Vikings and cats I remembered a post of mine from 2008 about a genetic analysis of mice in the UK which showed that mice from Scotland Ireland and Wales have a more Scandanavian genome than those in the UK.
The hypothesis is that that in these areas it not until Viking times that grain farming was large scale enough to support a large mouse population that crowded out any earlier populations of mice.
The hypothesis is of course that the mice came with Viking settlers, who were perhaps more expert at farming grain in wet marginal climates than the more pastorally focused Pictish, Irish and Welsh populations.
If that was the case we would expect to see cats not far behind, and if the Viking settlers were expert grain farmers there’s a reasonable expectation that they would have brought cats with them – not as pets but as animal that were just around to do useful things.
Getting cats to travel in a knorr or a longboat might have been interesting though.
It would be possible to test this by doing a genetic analysis of the cat populations of Iceland and the Faeroes, where the Vikings were the first settlers to farm on any large scale …
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