Boyd Rebecca, Viking houses in Ireland and western Britain, AD 850-1100
Boyd, Rebecca, Viking houses in Ireland and western Britain, AD 850-1100: a social archaeology of dwellings, households and cultural identities, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2012, (dir. A. O’Sullivan Boyd, University College, Dublin)
Viking settlers arriving in Ireland and western Britain in the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries built houses which incorporated native and Viking characteristics: rectangular form, three-aisled divisions, and central hearths. That much has already been established by previous studies of this architecture.
This thesis moves beyond this simplistic reading of shape and construction and explores how these houses were used to express the emerging hybrid identities of their inhabitants. The Viking longhouse was a primordial statement of Viking origin which is conspicuously missing here; instead, the Vikings and natives created a new architecture. This new architecture was more subtle and more in tune with the fluidities of the instrumental identities of their inhabitants, which included elements from across the study area.
554 houses were identified as expressing this hybrid style of architecture. An ‘analytical tool-box’, consisting of traditional building analyses, artefact distribution studies and access analysis, was applied from the perspective of social archaeology to explore this exceptional dataset. Individually, these analyses identified trends in and across building association and layouts, active zones and movement routes within buildings and identified household occupations and lifestyles.
On the wider scale, they identified that there were differences between the internal and external appearance of the buildings. From the outside, all the properties looked the same, but inside, each household expressed its own cultural and ethnic identities. The ninth to twelfth centuries were a period of intense change, with expansions in trade networks, outside influences, and the emergence of urbanism. Throughout all this, the house remained a constant for the household allowing them to become part of this new urban way of life. Its constancy in appearance within defined properties established a stability and provided with the households with a vital sense of place and connection to the towns.