Ravn Morten, Bygning og brug af skibe til krigsførelse i 1000-tallets danske rige, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2014, (dir. Université de Copenhague)
Afhandlingen sandsynliggør ressourcemæssige, organisatoriske og operationelle aspekter i forbindelse med bygning og brug af skibe anvendt til krigsførelse i 1000-tallets danske rige. Mange forskellige håndværk var involveret i skibsbygningen, og viden og kunnen blev udviklet og overført til næste generation via praksisfællesskaber. De anvendte ressourcer var nøje udvalgte, og flere var sandsynligvis manipulerede, for eksempel via afbarkning og stævning. Endvidere er det sandsynligt, at enkelte ressourcer blev reserveret til skibsbygning, og at snekkestednavnene i nogle tilfælde skal ses som et udtryk for dette. Forskellige fartøjstyper deltog i de militære operationer og krigsflåderne havde vidt forskellige størrelser. De små krigsflåder kunne sandsynligvis bygges og vedligeholdes af en enkelt stormand eller konge, mens bygning og vedligeholdelse af de store krigsflåder udelukkende var mulig i kraft af sammenslutninger mellem stormænd og konge. Om bord på fartøjerne har mandskab og skib indgået i et dialektisk samspil, hvor skibets design har formet besætningens organisation og kommunikation. Praksis om bord på mandskabsskibene medvirkede til at skabe en stærk og velfungerende kampenhed. Styrken i 1000-tallets skandinaviske krigsførelse var de hurtige og uventede angreb, og midlet til at føre denne taktik ud i livet var skibet og dets bevæbnede besætning.
Ward Elisabeth Ida, Nested Narrative: Þórðar saga hreðu and Material Engagement, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2014, (dir. J. Lindow, Université de Californie)
Þórðar saga hreðu is an Icelandic saga, of the type usually referred to as Sagas of Icelanders or Family Sagas, that lacks much of the drama of other sagas of a similar type. The dissertation utilizes this genre outlier to test a new method for analyzing the sagas, which combines literary analysis with recent anthropological theory. This method foregrounds the interaction of the material world with the saga narrative as an essential way that meaning is constructed. Chapter 1 looks at the saga’s physical manifestation in manuscripts, which offers a new emphasis on the saga as a product of a local community. Chapter 2 turns to the human-made objects referenced within the text, suggesting that the depiction of the material world in this saga is in keeping with the non-modern milieu from which it originated. Chapter 3 focuses on scenes in the saga where characters are described as moving through the landscape, and analyzes these as a way to demonstrate how co-constitutive the real landscape was for the saga narrative. Chapter 4 employs Cultural Memory theory to explain why certain placenames are included in the saga instead of others, noting that placename references are a clear invitation to include the real material world into the meaning-making of the saga. Chapter 5 looks at how the dynamic between the narrative of the saga and the local landscape of Skagafjörður as place has been disrupted in the modern period. The Conclusion offers a broad assessment of why repositioning the material world back into the interpretation of saga narratives is important.
Svedjemo Gustaf, Landscape Dynamics : Spatial analyses of villages and farms on Gotland AD 200-1700, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2014, (dir. F. Herschend, H. Martinsson-Wallin, Université d’Uppsala)
This dissertation deals with the long-term dynamics and fluctuations of settlements on Gotland for the period from AD 200 up until early modern times. The settlement structure on Gotland is most often described as very stable and consisting of solitary farms, established in the Iron Age. A contrasting view is presented by analyses of a vast source material from different periods. The source material consists of both physical remains, noted in the Swedish national Archaeological Sites Information System, FMIS and large scale historical maps, as well as other written sources. For the first studied period, the locations of some 2 000 houses are known, since they were constructed with sturdy stone walls and are thus preserved. The source material for the following periods is scarcer, but some hundred Viking Age sites are identified, mainly by the find places of silver hoards. By retrogressive analyses of historical maps, from the decades around the year 1700, and other written sources, later periods are analysed. All available data are gathered in geodatabases, which enables both generalised and detailed spatial and statistical analyses. The results of the analyses show a more varied picture, with great fluctuations in the number of farms; the existence of villages is also clearly indicated in a large part of the settlements. The villages are centred on kinship and the lack of strong royal power or landed gentry meant they were not fixed in cadastres, as fiscal units, as villages were on the Swedish mainland. Two peaks, followed by major dips, were identified in the number of settlements and thus in the population. The first peak occurred during the late Roman Iron Age/Migration period, which was followed by a reduction in the Vendel period of possibly up to 30-50%. After this, a recovery started in the Viking Age, which culminated during the heydays of Gotland in the High Middle Ages, with population numbers most probably not surpassed until late in history. This upward trend was broken by the diminishing trade of Gotland, the Medieval agrarian crisis, The Danish invasion and later events. All this resulted in a decline, probably as great as after the Migration period.
Smith Angela Marion, King Æthelstan in the English, Continental and Scandinavian traditions of the tenth to the thirteenth centuries, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2014, (dir. M. Swan, A. Hall, Université de Leeds)
Using close textual analysis, this thesis has identified similarities and differences in the ways in which the Anglo-Saxon king, Æthelstan, is depicted in narrative sources from England, the Continent and Scandinavia during the tenth to the thirteenth centuries; how historical, cultural, and literary contexts influenced their writers and their patrons and how literary analysis might contribute further to historical understandings of Æthelstan and his reign. Central to my analysis are the concepts of the sources as textual and visual narratives, deriving contemporary meaning from their intertextuality with other sources and fulfilling a function of recording and creating social memories for their own time and for the future. The thesis does not argue for the historical veracity of any one version over another but for the individual narrative ‗voices‘ to be heard and understood as part of their own historical, national and contemporary backgrounds. Based on my literary analysis of the texts I have questioned some generally held historical interpretations, suggested some alternative interpretations of my own and identified further areas for research. The thesis demonstrates that there are similarities but also significant differences in the way Æthelstan is depicted both between and within the English, Continental and Scandinavian traditions. It identifies a number of narratives within the sources that provide the basis for further research on Æthelstan: his Carolingian ambitions, his role as foster-father to Hákon of Norway, the possibility that he had a second coronation to confirm his claim to be King of all Britain and the depictions of him as a king-maker and a friend and ally of the Vikings.
Nordvig Mathias, Of Fire and Water : The Old Norse Mythical Worldview in an Eco-Mythological Perspective, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2014, (dir. P. Hermann, Agnes Siggerdur Arnórsdóttir, T. Gunnell, Université d’Aarhus)
What is the constitution of the Old Norse worldview according to the literary mythological sources in terms of man’s relationship with nature? What is the relationship between the conceptual categories of culture and nature, or civilized and wild (byggð and óbyggð, innangarðs and útangarðs) as it is expressed in the æsir’s dealings with the surrounding world in the myth of Þórr’s Fishing Expedition, the Creation Myth, and the myth of the Mead of Poetry in the Edda version? How do the actions of the gods in these narratives express man’s mythical notions of his relationship with the land and sea in the Scandinavian and North Atlantic ecosystems?
To answer this question we must first establish what is meant by the term ‘worldview,’ because this is not at all clear or consistent in Old Norse scholarship. The term is used widely by scholars of different disciplines, from literature and religion to archaeology. The subject has grown in popularity over the past forty decades, and the term ‘worldview’ has become commonplace in scholarship. It often supplants the term ‘cosmology’ in the context of Old Norse mythology in interdisciplinary discussion, or in the juxtaposition of paganism and Christianity. It may also be used to describe a popular understanding of Old Norse religion and mythology contrary to a dogmatic or authoritative one. In other instances, the term is applied by some scholars as a designation for a social ideology that is essentially unconsciously implemented in society and individual life.
The term ‘worldview’ is diffuse and originates in the German philosophical term Weltanschauung as it is used by, among others, Dilthey, Jaspers, and Scheler, to denote an overall comprehension of the world by an individual or a people. This all-encompassing understanding of the world synthesizes, generalizes, and transcends the scientific as well as the non-scientific perception of reality and prescribes social conduct, values, and explanations for the surrounding world. This is a very broad definition and it is thus no wonder that the term finds many uses in Old Norse scholarship. Because of the lack of clarity regarding the term ‘worldview’ and its application, the above question, when paired with the fact that there are no verifiably concrete first-hand sources for the pre-Christian worldview of Scandinavia, brings with it two other important questions, namely:
1) If the literature of Old Norse mythology contains a specific worldview, what is the internal relationship between these texts? And;
2) What is the external relationship of the mythology to the surrounding world?
Naumann Elise, Diet, mobility and social identity in Norway AD 400-1050. An investigation based on δ13C, δ15N and 87Sr/86Sr analyses of human remains, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2014, (dir. L. Hedeager, T. D. Price, M. P. Richards, Université d’Oslo)
Gjennom isotopanalyser av skjelettmateriale har Elise Naumann vist hvordan mat og kosthold har vært en viktig strukturerende faktor i Norges hierarkiske jernaldersamfunn. «I et land som Norge er det ikke uventet at folk har hatt svært ulikt kosthold. Mer overraskende er det at mennesker som er gravlagt samme sted, og til og med i samme grav, vanligvis ikke har levd av den samme kosten», sier Naumann.
Prosjektet har tatt for seg individer fra perioden 400–1050 e. Kr, og omfatter både enkelt- og dobbeltgraver. I følge Naumann tyder resultatene på at mennesker gravlagt sammen sjelden tilhørte den samme sosiale sfæren: «I noen tilfeller er det mye som tyder på at treller ble gitt som gravgaver, noe vi også kjenner fra skriftlige kilder. Det er imidlertid sterke indikasjoner på at også andre sosiale relasjoner kommer til uttrykk i gravene – noe som viser at både sosial status, kjønn, alder, arbeidsfordeling og andre faktorer kan ha hatt betydning for hva folk fikk å spise».
Til tross for komplekse forhold mellom kosthold og sosial tilhørighet, tyder resultatene på at eliten har hatt mer tilgang på kjøtt og melkeprodukter, mens enkelte individer gravlagt i svært funnfattige graver har spist mye sjømat i den siste tiden før de døde. «Samtidig ser vi at svært mange spiser annerledes som voksne enn de gjorde som barn», sier Naumann. «Dette kan tyde på at jernalder-mennesket ikke nødvendigvis forble i samme sosiale rolle hele livet gjennom. Mange har endret både tilholdssted og levesett betydelig i løpet av livet – kanskje har de også endret sin sosiale posisjon».
Mackenzie Colin Peter, Vernacular psychologies in Old Norse-Icelandic and Old English, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2014, (dir. K. Lowe, J. Smith, Université de Glasgow)
This thesis examines the vernacular psychology presented in Old Norse-Icelandic texts. It focuses on the concept ‘hugr’, generally rendered in English as ‘mind, soul, spirit’, and explores the conceptual relationships between emotion, cognition and the body. It argues that despite broad similarities, Old Norse-Icelandic and Old English vernacular psychology differ more than has previously been acknowledged. Furthermore, it shows that the psychology of Old Norse-Icelandic has less in common with its circumpolar neighbours than proposed by advocates of Old Norse-Icelandic shamanism. The thesis offers a fresh interpretation of Old Norse-Icelandic psychology which does not rely on cross-cultural evidence from other Germanic or circumpolar traditions. In particular, I demonstrate that emotion and cognition were not conceived of ‘hydraulically’ as was the case in Old English, and that ‘hugr’ was not thought to leave the body either in animal form or as a person’s breath. I show that Old Norse-Icelandic psychology differs from the Old English tradition, and argue that the Old English psychological model is a specific elaboration of the shared psychological inheritance of Germanic whose origins require further study. These differences between the two languages have implications for the study of psychological concepts in Proto-Germanic, as I argue that there are fewer semantic components which can be reliably reconstructed for the common ancestor of the North and West Germanic languages. As a whole, the thesis applies insights from cross-cultural linguistics and psychology in order to show how Old Norse-Icelandic psychological concepts differ not only from contemporary Germanic and circumpolar traditions but also from the Present Day English concepts used to describe them. The thesis comprises four chapters and conclusion. Chapter 1 introduces the field of study and presents the methodologies and sources used. It introduces the range of cross-cultural variety in psychological concepts, and places Old Norse-Icelandic ‘hugr’ and its Old English analogue ‘mōd’ in a typological perspective. Chapter 2 reviews previous approaches to early Germanic psychology and introduces the major strand of research that forms the background to this study: Lockett’s (2011) proposal that Old English vernacular psychology operated in terms of a ‘hydraulic model’, where the ‘mōd’ would literally boil and seethe within a person’s chest in response to strong emotions. Chapter 3 outlines the native Old Norse-Icelandic psychological model by examining indigenously produced vernacular texts. It looks first at the claims that ‘hugr’ could leave the body in animal form or as a person’s breath. It then describes the relationship between emotion, cognition and the body in Old Norse-Icelandic texts and contrasts this with the Old English system. Chapter 4 examines the foreign influences which could potentially account for the differences between the Old English and Old Norse-Icelandic systems. It looks first at the imported medical traditions which were known in medieval Scandinavia at the time Old Norse-Icelandic texts were being committed to writing. Next it considers the psychology of Christian tradition from the early Old Icelandic Homily Book to late-fourteenth-century devotional poetry. Finally, it examines the representation of emotion and the body in the translated Anglo-Norman and Old French texts produced at the court of Hákon Hákonarson and explores how this was transposed to native romances composed in Old Norse-Icelandic. The conclusion summarises the findings of the thesis and presents a proposal for the methodology of studying medieval psychological concepts with directions for further research.
Horne Tom, The most praiseworthy journey : Scandinavian market networks in the Viking Age, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2014, (dir. C. Batey, Université de Glasgow)
Between AD c.860 and c.970, hundreds of thousands of silver coins (dirhams) from Central Asia reached Scandinavia, where evidence suggests adoption within market environments as commodity-money within a hacksilver currency. Although several hundred dirhams are found in hoards and as single-finds in Britain and Ireland, the extension of this ‘economic’ phenomenon here is rarely discussed due to a focus on social exchange. This bias comes from a failure to incorporate market-based network theory developed in recent Scandinavian Baltic studies on the back of that region’s dirham influx, and the excavation there of market sites like Birka, Hedeby, and Kaupang probably responsible for their further dissemination. Considered for the first time, then, this study allows an Insular dirham dataset assembled in a new database to be interpreted beyond the restrictive corpus of Viking-Age Insular exchange literature. The Baltic perspectives, centred on the nodal network role of hub markets like Hedeby in Jutland, offer the best model of how long-distance exchange operated in the period c.850-950. Accordingly, the nodal Insular Scandinavian import and export sites of Dublin and York are contextualised within the distribution of Insular dirham deposits to characterise the economic and social context of this network. Beyond the dirhams, this ‘Silver Route’ network is considered responsible for the bi-directional trade of high-value commodities between Insular Scandinavia, England, and the Baltic. Thus, a new non-numismatic database includes pieces considered to have arrived in Britain and Ireland in concert with the dirhams. This database – included in a CD alongside the dirham data – includes metrological equipment, jewellery, amber, silk, and silver of Scandinavian Baltic, Eastern European, and Central Asian origin. Like the numismatic material, the non-numismatic data support a model of network kingdoms, defined as polities based on control of nodal/hub markets and influence over the trade routes connecting them, with the latter aspect requiring royal co-operation with independent long-distance and regional traders. From this point of departure, a case is made for Ívarr and the Uí Ímair using control of Dublin and York to introduce an import and currency package to Britain and Ireland from a possible homeland in a ‘Danish Corridor’ focussed on Kaupang and Hedeby. This idea of market-centric polities is alloyed by the use of post-substantivist economic theory, which argues that nodal-market sites encouraged the social and exchange conditions where market economics and production could flourish. While it is accepted that socially-embedded exchange dominated Viking-Age Scandinavia, post-substantivism allows for the increasing import of market exchange, and it is applied to Insular Scandinavia for the first time here.
Bergdís Þrastardóttir, The Medieval Matter, Þættir in the medieval manuscripts Morkinskinna and Flateyjarbók, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2014, (dir. P. Hermann, Agnes S. Arnórsdóttir, Université d’Aarhus)
Cross Katherine Clare, Enemy and ancestor : Viking identities and ethnic boundaries in England and Normandy, c.950-c.1015, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2014, (University College London)
This thesis is a comparison of ethnicity in Viking Age England and Normandy. It focuses on the period c.950-c.1015, which begins several generations after the initial Scandinavian settlements in both regions. The comparative approach enables an investigation into how and why the two societies’ inhabitants differed in their perceptions of viking heritage and its impact on ethnic relations in this period. Written sources provide the key to these perceptions: genealogies, histories, hagiographies, charters and law codes. The thesis is the first study to juxtapose and compare these sources and aspects of Viking Age England and Normandy. The approach to ethnicity is informed by the social sciences, especially Fredrik Barth’s Ethnic Groups and Boundaries. The emphasis here is on ethnic identity as a social construct and as a product of belief in group membership. In particular, this investigation treats ethnic identity separately from cultural markers such as names, dress, appearance, and art. In doing so, it presents a new perspective in discussions of assimilation after Scandinavian settlement. For the purpose of analysis, ‘ethnicity’ has been divided into three strands: genealogical, historical and geographical identity. Sources from England and Normandy are compared within each of the three strands. The thesis demonstrates the development of a single ‘viking’ group identity in Normandy, which was defined in distinction to the Franks. In England, on the other hand, ‘viking’ and ‘Scandinavian’ identities held various meanings and were deployed in diverse situations. No single group laid exclusive claim to viking heritage, nor completely rejected it. Ultimately, it is argued that viking identity was used as a tool in political and military conflicts. It was not an expression of association with Scandinavian allies, but most often was used as a more local means of distinction within England and Normandy.