Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Farfarers: Before the Norse” as Want to Read:
The Farfarers: Before the Norse
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Farfarers: Before the Norse

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  196 ratings  ·  19 reviews
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,
Paperback, 377 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by Steerforth (first published November 1st 1998)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Farfarers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Farfarers

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  196 ratings  ·  19 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Rick Caster
Apr 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Fascinating combination of archaeology, history, and speculation about the first europeans to come to north America, from my new favorite Canadian writer.
Apr 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Mowat seems to think there were visitors to America before the vikings. He calls them Alba and they came from what is now England. His view is from Canada and whether it applies to what is not the USA is not covered. But what I found most facinating is several "long Houses" that were being investigated. The stone walls were in the shape of a ship or boat. They found not wood structure for the roof and indeed there were no trees in these areas. But then Mowat came up with the answer. They used th ...more
John Tendall
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Anything by Mowat worth it, this prehistory Irish seafarers
Mike Slates
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I went into this book with an almost comical view of the authors thesis, that people from Northern Scotland were in North America long before the Norse, and finished the book quite convinced not only of it's possibility, but of it's probability.
Thomas Vree
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Mowat posits the theory that Iceland, Greenland and Canada were discovered long before the Norse. The Albans, a culture who predate the Celts or the Picts, or the Angles or the Saxons, driven ever further north by successive waves of invasions, up into the islands off Scotland. When Viking raids begin striking at the British Isles they have nowhere left to flee. Being seafarers who had been chasing “valuta” or ivory for centuries they were already well aware of Iceland and Greenland as rich hunt ...more
Danielle  Griffin
Aug 05, 2018 rated it liked it
It was ok. It's an interesting concept, and I liked the picture of these people that Mowat painted. However, it's technically a non-fiction book, and therefore, I have to criticize its lack of evidence. Little of Mowat's theory has any supporting evidence other than a few unusual archeological sites in northern Canada, Greenland and Iceland, and he fills in the gaps with pure speculation. I think this would have been best presented as a novel.
David R.
Aug 03, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: travel, world-history
A pretended history. Mowat is inventive but persistantly refuses to adhere to even the minimal standards of archaelogy and historical inquiry. Anyone who cites more of his own works in footnotes than all others combined should warrant a wide berth.
Fredrick Danysh
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
The author argues that the Vikings were not the only Europeans to reach North America before Columbus but were themselves preceded by earlier unknown Europeans. He bases his observations on visits to little known or explored sites. This is an interesting alternative history.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Научно-познавательная повесть. Умеренно увлекательная и очень познавательная для меня. По- новому взглянула на кельтов, норманнов и двигатели цивилизации.
Bern Callahan
Nov 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Two great ideas: a book about the putative "first settlers" from Europe to North America + a book about acheology.....put together made a challenging read.
A bit too dry for me.
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
OK, this is sort of "soft" history. Mowat includes engaging fictional interludes and anecdotes about his own visits to the places in question. But he makes a good case for early European visits and colonization of North America, well before the Norse. Not only that, but active transatlantic trade. Instead of the conventional picture of the Norse as bold hardy pioneers, he paints them as unrelenting thugs who forced the peaceful Albans westward ahead of them. A startling and fairly convincing rei ...more
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Interesting; a lot more detail than I was looking for. I think he put a lot in since it's an alternative explanation of historical documentation hence footnotes are from himself. Fun to think about but got a bit long. Blends in a story of the trip done in italics.
Jan 10, 2011 marked it as to-read In 1965 Farley Mowat published "Westviking," a book that presaged the now widely held theory that Norsemen arrived in North America some 500 years before Columbus. But were they the first? "The Farfarers: Before the Norse" reopens the debate.
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good book if you're into the arrival of Vikings and Europeans on the North American Continent. Well written narrative speculations based on solid history, and probable movement of humans across Iceland, North Canada and Greenland.
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Awesome! Very enjoyable read. Who would have thought it. And so the question of who really were the first Europeans in America continues.
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lief Ericson was Second? For a 3rd generation son of Norway (among other nations) this is hard to believe. But Farley has done his home work and has come up with a compeling thesis.
Fraser Hoban
I enjoy history, but this ones kinda slow
rated it really liked it
Oct 24, 2008
Andrew Bollinger
rated it really liked it
Jun 08, 2012
rated it really liked it
Mar 04, 2013
Roni Rust
rated it it was amazing
Apr 01, 2018
Jim MacLeod
rated it it was amazing
Apr 02, 2016
rated it really liked it
Aug 15, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Mar 15, 2016
Dale MacLeod
rated it really liked it
Mar 18, 2015
rated it really liked it
Feb 28, 2014
Tony Latour
rated it liked it
Jul 01, 2015
rated it really liked it
Mar 05, 2014
rated it it was amazing
May 07, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek
  • The Roman Republic
  • Juno Beach: Canada's D-Day Victory, June 6, 1944
  • The Doubter's Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense
  • I Am Jane Goodall
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II
  • Theodora: Empress of Byzantium
  • The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors
  • Clues, Myths and the Historical Method
  • A Medieval Family: The Pastons of Fifteenth-Century England
  • The Leopard's Tale: Revealing the Mysteries of Catalhoyuk
  • Women in Greek Myth
  • Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World
  • On History
  • The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West
  • The Wars of the Ancient Greeks
  • Climate Wars
  • The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined
See similar books…
Farley McGill Mowat was a conservationist and one of Canada's most widely-read authors.

Many of his most popular works have been memoirs of his childhood, his war service, and his work as a naturalist. His works have been translated into 52 languages and he has sold more than 14 million books.

Mowat studied biology at the University of Toronto. During a field trip to the Arct