Some time ago I started a thread about Vikings and cats.
I’ve just come across an interestinf student thesis on the role of cats in viking beliefs.
I’ll be the first to admit that I havn’t yet read the thesis in detail but the story seems to go something like this:
- Cats were of great ritual significance to Viking peoples
- Vikings were familiar with wild cats and lynx
- there is no significant evidence of a larges scale presence ofdomestic cats in Sweden much before 1000CE
- evidence of domestic cats has been found as early as C6CE
So, basically it was wild cats that fed the myths and the domestic mog did not get a lookin to much later. If it’s true that cats were not common in Sweden until the end of the Viking period, I’d be tempted to suggest that before the migration period the Vikings did not keep cats for rodent control on any large scale.
This of course begs the question of where the cats came from, and whether while the mice of the north of Britain may show evidence of a Scandanavian genome, the cats went the other way, adopted by Viking settlers and then introduced to Scandanavia.
Either way, a genetic analysis of teh cat populations of Iceland and the Fearoes could prove interesting …
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