Kupiec Patrycja, Transhumance in the North Atlantic : an interdisciplinary approach to the identification and interpretation of Viking-Age and Medieval shieling sites, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2016 (University of Aberdeen)
This thesis contributes new archaeological evidence to the debate on transhumance in the Viking and Medieval Periods in Iceland and the Outer Hebrides. It examines shielings in these two regions at new levels of detail, and with new techniques, to improve previous methodologies for the identification of periodically occupied settlements. It presents detailed geoarchaeological studies of the floor deposits at both known and putative shieling sites in Iceland and the Western Isles, which demonstrate that micromorphological analysis is a method capable of distinguishing between periods of punctuated and permanent occupation. The results of these analyses form the basis of a new analytical and interpretive framework suited to identify and study periodic occupation at shieling sites in the North Atlantic region. The micromorphological studies, contextualized by a review of ethnographic sources, provide new insights into the potential flexibility of the type and duration of occupation at Icelandic and Hebridean shielings, and demonstrate that high-resolution geoarchaeological techniques might be essential to disentangle these changes. By integrating archaeological, historical, and ethnographic sources for the first time, this work also provides new insights into Norse shieling economies in Iceland and the Western Isles of Scotland. This analysis reveals a picture of multi-faceted shieling activities, with the use of shielings adapted to fit unique local conditions in different Norse colonies, proving that rigid models cannot be used to study past transhumant practices. The study of the archaeology of Viking-age and medieval shielings, and the medieval saga literature and later folklore that relate to shielings, demonstrates that shielings were conceptualized as different to farms, and that they played an important role in shaping the social relationships and identities of those engaged in summer transhumance. Through this holistic approach to the study of Viking-age and medieval shielings, a fuller picture of Norse society emerges, in which seasonal pastoral settlements are given a more prominent place alongside other features of the Viking and medieval landscape in the North Atlantic region.
[Source : http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.698843]
Holm Olof, Självägarområdenas egenart : Jämtland och andra områden i Skandinavien med småskaligt jordägande 900–1500, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2012, (dir. L. Runefelt, O. Ferm, Université de Stockholm)
This thesis takes its departure from the fact that in the 16th century there were some regions in Scandinavia where almost all land was held by freeholders, while in other regions large areas of land were held by landlords. The aim of the study is to determine which factors had been decisive in the development of this regional variation. One factor is known from earlier research: the conditions for farming, dependent on climate and natural features. In this thesis the author points out another important factor, namely the conditions for people in the countryside to acquire surplus from trade. This is done through an in-depth investigation of the society of Jämtland in the period AD 900–1500, which is then compared with other freeholders’ regions, treated briefly.It is observed that the landownership had been small-scale or mostly small-scale in all these regions for many centuries before the 16th century, and that there are strong indications of the wealthiest farmers being traders and having their surplus mostly drawn from trade activities. It is reasonable to believe that the lack of willingness to invest in estates in these regions was due to the fact that those who had resources gave priority to investments in interregional and regional trade instead. They probably saw better chances of gaining more surplus from trade activities than from the agrarian economy, given the conditions for trading and crop cultivation, respectively, that were prevailing there. In such a region, hence, an important economic force for estate-formation was missing. This will explain why certain regions, like Jämtland or Gotland, developed into and remained as freeholders’ regions.Another observation concerns the social structure of freeholders’ regions. It is observed that the societies in these regions seem to have been less hierarchical on the local level than societies in regions dominated by landlords – even though the differences in fortunes could be great.
Edvardsson Ragnar, The role of marine resources in the medieval economy of Vestfirdir, Iceland, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir. T.H. McGovern, City University of New York)
Vestfirdir became a stagnant and backwater region of Iceland following the social and political changes in the 17th century that crippled the Icelandic economy. For the next two hundred years people in Vestfirdir struggled to survive but at the end of the 19th century the regional economy began to recover and living standards in the region improved. However, these impoverished years in the history of Vestfirdir have always influenced the historical view of the region. Both scholars and laymen alike believed Vestfirdir to have been consistently poor from the beginning of the settlement to the present day. Archaeological and historical data now contradict these ideas and suggest that through most of its history the region based its income primarily on marine resources and supplied the remainder of Iceland with marine products not readily available elsewhere. Vestfirdir was settled at the same time as other regions of Iceland and soon after settlement the region developed a specialized fishing industry, focusing on the production of skreiđ (dried fish) for both Icelandic and European markets. In the Medieval and early modern periods Vestfirdir gained wealth from trade with foreigners which made it one of the richest region of Iceland. The work presented here contradicts the idea of a stagnant and unchanging society and gives a new perspective of a diverse and flexible society, built around the marine resources, which were the key to the success of the settlement in Vestfirdir.
[Source : http://gradworks.umi.com/33/96/3396427.html]
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.
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».
Viberg Andreas, Remnant echoes of the past Archaeological geophysical prospection in Sweden, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2012, (dir. K. Lidén, B. Olofsson, R. Dalan, B. Bevan, Université de Stockholm)
The aim of this thesis has been to investigate the benefits, pitfalls and possibilities of using geophysical methods in archaeological projects. This is exemplified by surveys carried out at archaeological sites in different geographical and chronological contexts. The thesis also aims at investigating the cause for the under-use of the methods in Swedish archaeology by looking at previously conducted surveys. The methods used during these surveys have been Ground-penetrating radar (GPR), magnetometer, slingram and a kappameter. The surveys in the mountain tundra region of Lapland show that magnetic susceptibility surveys is a valuable aid in discovering heaps of fire-cracked stones and when combined with magnetometry, also hearths. GPR and magnetometer surveys within the Migration Period ringfort Sandbyborg provided the spatial layout of the fort and indicated, along with results from recent excavations and metal detections, many similarities with the ringfort Eketorp II. The non-magnetic character of the sedimentary bedrock on Öland and Gotland is suitable for magnetometer surveys and the method is also highly appropriate for the detection of the remains of high-temperature crafts. GPR surveys at St. Mary’s Dominican convent in Sigtuna produced the spatial layout of the central cloister area. The investigations also show that the geology, pedology, land use and the character of commonly occurring prehistoric remains in Sweden, in certain circumstances and in certain areas, have restricted the possibility of successfully carrying out geophysical surveys. Care must therefore be taken to choose the right instrument for the survey and to tailor the sampling density of each geophysical survey, according to the character and size of the expected archaeological remains, in order to maximize their information return. To increase the use of geophysical methods in Sweden the educational opportunities, both for surveyors and professional archaeologists, need to improve.
Vidal Teva, Houses and domestic life in the Viking Age and medieval period : material perspectives from sagas and archaeology, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2013, (dir. J. Jesch, C. Lee, Université de Nottingham)
This thesis examines the representations of houses as physical structures in the Íslendingasögur with specific emphasis on the material aspect of housing culture in the Viking Age and medieval period, as well as the interactions between material culture and text. The Íslendingasögur were written in Iceland as of the thirteenth century, but look back onto the Viking Age (c. 800-1100 AD). Comparison with the archaeology of domestic space reveals that the house in the Íslendingasögur generally corresponds with medieval housing models, contemporary with the period of saga writing. However, there are also examples of structures which correspond to the models of the Viking Age. Descriptions of antiquated buildings are sometimes framed in statements that make explicit reference to the chronological separation between the Viking Age and the writer’s present time, suggesting a familiarity with the evolution of housing culture. Detailed analysis of buildings in the sagas reveals domestic space in its context of use, and demonstrates how the physical nature of the house and farm framed the productive and social activities that went on within. The materiality of domestic life has particular importance for the dispensing of hospitality. Demonstrations of domestic space in use also allow for a better understanding of the relationship between objects and language, and elucidate some difficulties in translation and academic usage both in archaeology and literary studies. Material culture can itself influence the processes of composition in oral/written narratives such as the sagas, by inspiring the formation of narrative episodes. The built environment can also provide a contextual framing for narratives, acting as a mnemonic device facilitating the preservation and transmission of saga narratives.
Harlitz Erika, Urbana system och riksbildning i Skandinavien. En studie av Lödöses uppgång och fall ca 1050 – 1646 [Urban Systems and State Formation in Scandinavia: A Study of the Rise and Fall of the Town of Lödöse, c. 1050– 1646], Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (Université de Göteborg)
The investigation and analysis of Lödöse’s political functions over a period of six hundred years has made it possible to follow and contextualize a town’s life cycle and development. Lödöse has been used as a case study which illuminates how and why a town emerged, developed and disappeared in medieval and early modern Scandinavia, in relation to the processes of state formation and urbanization. The theory applied is the Dynamic Urban Systems Theory. The position of a town within this theory is determined by the functions of the town, as well as the exclusivity of these functions. The influences of the Scandinavian state formation process on the town and the subsequent emergence of the river Göta Älv as the border of the realm have been ubiquitous during the evolution of Lödöse’s functions. The results of the dissertation have been reached by abandoning the interpretational framework offered by the borders of the Scandinavian national states and instead using the Glomma-Risveden region as a focal point. This way, it has been demonstrated that Lödöse was founded in the 11th century during the urbanization of the medieval eastern Norwegian region of Viken, and not as a power manifestation by the Swedish kings, as has been previously assumed. Due to the evolution of the border between the Norwegian and Swedish kingdoms, Lödöse in time became a part of the developing Swedish urban system. This system evolved and was shaped in such a way by the Swedish state that, by the early 17th century, Lödöse was rendered obsolete; therefore, the town ultimately lost its system position and was subsequently abandoned.
[Source : http://gup.ub.gu.se/publication/120754-urbana-system-och-riksbildning-i-skandinavien-en-studie-av-lodoses-uppgang-och-fall-ca-1050-1646]
Löwenborg Daniel, Excavating the Digital Landscape, GIS analyses of social relations in central Sweden in the 1st millennium AD, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (dir. P. Sinclair, Université d’Uppsala)
This thesis presents a number of GIS based landscape analyses that together aim to explore aspects of the social development in Iron Age Västmanland, central Sweden. From a perspective where nature and culture are seen as integrated in the landscape, differences in the relations to the physical landscape are interpreted as reflecting social organisation. Thus, hydrological modelling of watersheds is used for understanding the development of territories and regions that are recognisable in the outlay of the medieval hundare districts. Statistical modelling of burial grounds together with variables describing their situation in the landscape is used to calculate an estimated chronology for sites that have not yet been excavated. This information is used to analyse differences in how the setting in the landscape can tell of different trends in claims to land and property rights. An extensive renegotiation of property rights is suggested to have taken place after climatic catastrophe in AD 536 and the years after. This is interpreted as having caused a substantial population decline in parts of Scandinavia. The social development after this includes an increasingly stratified social hierarchy in the Late Iron Age, which is reflected in the construction of grave monuments. New GIS methods for analysing how to interpret the perception of different locations of the landscape, in terms of local topography and soil are discussed in relation to this. How to make the best use of large datasets of archaeological information in combination with other sources of geographical information is a central theme. Geographically Weighted Regression is used to predicting the representativity of the registry of graves for the whole landscape. It is suggested that the increasing availability of archaeological information in digital format, together with new analytical techniques has the potential to introduce fruitful new research perspectives. This will make it increasingly rewarding to work with the large amount of data produced from rescue archaeology, and it is important that this information is managed in a structured manner.
[Sources : http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-111393]
Raffield Benjamin Paul, Inside that fortress sat a few peasant men, and it was half-made: a study of ‘Viking’ fortifications in the British Isles, AD793-1066, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (Université de Birmingham)
The study of Viking fortifications is a neglected subject which could reveal much to archaeologists about the Viking way of life. The popular representation of these Scandinavian seafarers is often as drunken, bloodthirsty heathens who rampaged across Britain leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Excavations at Coppergate, York and Dublin however, show that the Vikings developed craft and industry wherever they settled, bringing Britain back into trade routes lost since the collapse of the Roman Empire. These glimpses of domestic life show a very different picture of the Vikings to that portrayed in popular culture. Fortifications provide a compromise to these views, as they are relatively safe, militarised locations where an army in hostile territory can undertake both military and ‘domestic’ activities. This study investigates the historiography of the Vikings and suspected fortification sites in Britain, aiming to understand the processes behind which archaeological sites have been designated as ‘Viking’ in the past. The thesis will also consider the study of Viking fortifications in an international context and attempt to identify future avenues of research that might be taken in an effort to better understand this archaeologically elusive people.
[Source : http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/1102/1/Raffield10MPhil.pdf]