Anders Håkansson, Bebyggelsehierarkier och bylandskap : om övergången mellan vikingatid och tidig medeltid ur ett halländskt perspektiv

Anders Håkansson, Bebyggelsehierarkier och bylandskap : om övergången mellan vikingatid och tidig medeltid ur ett halländskt perspektiv, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2017 (Université de Lund)

Résumé/abstract :

The doctoral thesis seeks to discuss the transition between Viking Age and early medieval settlement and the establishment of the historical villages, based on archaeological material collected in Halland. The development is described in terms of three general periods of change: Period 1, c. 800–1000, consisting of farms with three-aisled longhouses. Period 2, c. 1000–1150, a transitional period when new forms arose and different types of buildings and farms seem to have existed in parallel. Differences in farm size and material culture are palpable and are presented in the form of a social settlement hierarchy consisting of small, medium-sized, large and very large farms. Period 3, c. 1150–1250, consisting of farms where one-aisled buildings dominate and where a division of farms into smaller units can be discerned at several places. The development is linked primarily to changes in toft structure, as tofts decrease in area as a consequence of the division of homesteads in connection with the agrarian expansion. A probable contributory factor is the general European development whereby estates were gradually dissolved and replaced by a system with smaller tenant farms. The village structure in Halland can best be compared to cluster villages with dispersed settlement within a larger area, which largely corresponds to the infields of the historical village.  Also linked to the picture of settlement is the village’s social organization, for which the study advocates a development different from that described in the three-stage model of agrarian history for different forms of agricultural management. The expected large farms in the first stage of the model are not reflected in the evidence from early medieval Halland. Instead it is suggested that there was a more informal system of tenant farms consisting of one or more manors and subordinate farms occupied by families of varying status.  The changes and new traditions that occur in Halland during the eleventh century appear to have taken place through contacts in power politics, which initially divided the province into a southern (Danish) sphere of interest and a northern (Norwegian?) one. The points of contact can be linked to a number of settlements along the coast of Halland which appear to have made up long-distance networks in the form of alliances, trade, and military enterprises. These big farms served as models for other households in Halland and inspired new traditions, becoming an element in the change of the landscape as estate owners within the framework of the early medieval colonization.

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