Cover image for The farfarers : before the Norse
The farfarers : before the Norse
Mowat, Farley.
Personal Author:
First paperback edition.
Publication Information:
South Royalton, Vt. : Steerforth Press ; [Berkeley, Calif.] : Distributed by Publishers Group West, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiv, 377 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
"First published in 1998 in Canada by Key Porter Books"--T.p. verso.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E103 .M73 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E103 .M73 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E103 .M73 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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MYSTERIOUS LONGHOUSES in the Arctic, ancient stone beacons in Newfoundland - are they evidence of Europeans who crossed the Atlantic before A.D. 1000? Farley Mowat advances a controversial new theory about the first visitors to North America. Mowat's Westviking: The Ancient Norse in Greenland and North America (1965) was highly influential in helping to establish the belief, now commonly held, that the Norse visited North America some 500 years before Columbus. And yet "a worm of unease" plagued Mowat even then, a vague feeling that he hadn't gotten it quite right. He spent the next 30 years in search of a theory that would explain inconsistencies in the archaeological evidence (such as carbon-dated ruins not left by the Inuit, but that predated the arrival of Vikings in Newfoundland by hundreds of years). Now in The Farfarers he asserts that another Indo-European people he calls the "Alban" preceded the Norse by several centuries. Throughout The Farfarers, Mowat skillfully weaves fictional vignettes of Alban life into his thoughtful reconstruction of a forgotten history. What emerges is a bold and dramatic panorama of a harsher age: an age of death-dealing warships and scanty food supply, of long, cold journeys across the night sea into unknown lands. "A spellbinding story . . . told by a master storyteller at the top of his form." -- The Globe And Mail "The book is a fascinating glimpse of yesteryear and offers brief histories on the Celts, Saxons, Vikings, Inuits, and other peoples of the northern hemisphere. Written in vigorous, picturesque prose." -- The Edmonton Sun

Author Notes

Farley Mowat's nearly forty books have sold millions of copies & have been published in more than twenty languages. His books include "Never Cry Wolf", "Sea of Slaughter", "The Farfarers", "People of the Deer", "The Dog Who Wouldn't Be", "The Desperate People", & "Ordeal by Ice".

(Publisher Provided) He is one of Canada's most popular & distinguished writers. Through the past five decades he has recorded his experiences in several highly successful books for both adults & children. He has received scores of literary awards & his works have been translated into more than 30 languages.

(Publisher Provided) Farley Mowat was born in Belleville, Ontario, Canada on May 12, 1921. During World War II, he fought in the Allied invasion of Sicily. He was discharged in 1945 with the rank of Captain. He studied at the University of Toronto.

Farley was an author, activist, and environmentalist. He wrote more than 40 books during his lifetime including both novels and non-fiction works. His books include Never Cry Wolf, My Father's Son, Otherwise, and Eastern Passage. He received several awards including the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal in 1956, the Governor General's Award for Lost in the Barrens in 1956, the Leacock Medal for Humour for The Boat Who Wouldn't Float in 1970, and the Order of Canada in 1981. He died on May 6, 2014 at the age of 92.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

More than 30 years ago, in his book Westviking: The Ancient Norse in Greenland and North America (1965), Mowat established the theory that the Vikings visited North America well before Columbus. Now he believes that another group of Europeans came to America even earlier than the Norse. Mowat explains that a people, whom he has named Albans, traveled the northern routes of the Atlantic 500 years before the Vikings. There is minimal physical proof to substantiate this theory; however, Mowat convincingly explains his ideas by applying previously unexplainable archaeological discoveries that contradict the early Viking theory and by composing fictional accounts depicting the activities of this forgotten society. With the aid of charts and other drawings, Mowat creatively illustrates the events that led up to the Albans' early exploration of Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland and conjectures about their forced evacuations from their homelands in the British Isles by invading foreigners and their search for valuable walrus ivory. Mowat has written a fascinating account of his contentious and latest concept. --Julia Glynn

Publisher's Weekly Review

A veteran investigator of early European voyages to North America, Mowat (Westviking) has conjured up a vision of pre-Viking settlement by a people he calls the Albans. Originating in what is now Scotland, Mowat's Albans were displaced in stages between about 700 and 1000 A.D., first to Iceland and Greenland, and finally to the western coast of Newfoundland. The author sees the Albans as driven westward by two forces: the search for valuables such as sealskin and walrus tusk, and the remorseless pressure of Viking raiders. To support his thesis, Mowat presents what scant evidence exists-mainly, stone constructions, like tower beacons and foundations for shelters, which Mowat believes cannot be attributed to the Norse or to native inhabitants of Greenland or Atlantic Canada, and which resemble stonework found in the Orkney Islands. On this basis, Mowat accepts that the Albans existed and sets out to imagine what their migrations were like. Scattered throughout the book in italicized passages are stories set in that era, telling how the Albans might have explored their new surroundings and survived, even prospered, in the Arctic. The Albans lost their separate identity, Mowat believes, by merging into the aboriginal population of Newfoundland. This account rests on informed speculation, as Mowat explicitly acknowledges, and is not intended as a formal exposition of all the evidence for and against the author's thesis. The book is best enjoyed as a richly detailed and imaginative reconstruction of how a long-vanished European people may have been the first of their kind to venture into the New World. Illus. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Mowat's 1960's book, Westviking: The Ancient Norse Vikings in Greenland and North America, first advanced the now-widely held belief that the Norse visited North America five centuries before Columbus and had settlements for a time on the northern tip of Newfoundland. Now Mowat returns to argue that before the Norse got to North America, and as early as the 700s, a pre-Indo-European people whom he calls "the Albans" had already been there. They fled their settlements in Scotland, he argues, to escape Viking slave-raiders--but they also went in search of walrus ivory tusks which were then highly prized in Europe. He supports his thesis with bits of Norse sagas, the chronicles of Irish monks, and his own archaeological finds. Some archaeologists dismiss Mowat's Alban theory as lacking in evidence--but whether he's correct or not, large academic libraries will want to have a copy of this controversial text.--Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., CUNY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.