It is clear that Norse settlement was an important period in the history of Coll. The Viking invasion
is likely to have begun at the start of the ninth century, although the survival of what is plausibly a
pre-Norse island-name implies that there had been earlier contact. The absence of other pre-contact
place-names, however, strongly suggests that the invasion disrupted the indigenous population in
the same way that it did in many parts of the Hebrides. An analysis of surviving Norse place-names
suggests that the Norse settled the whole island in a number of phases. The duration of Scandinavian
dominance is not known, but it is likely to have lasted for much of the Early Medieval period.
In contrast to the invasion, it appears that the later language shift from Norse to Gaelic was
gradual. The Norse ‘signal’ is as strong on Coll as it is on Tiree

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