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Archaeology of Female Lifeworlds of Western Scandinavia in the Context of Continental Relations from the Roman to the Migration Period

Project Description:

For many historic periods graves and grave finds offer the best, in some cases the only possible approach to re-discover the individuals and their ever changing environment behind archaeological records and finds due to the direct relationship between the architecture of a certain grave, its inventory and the individual who is buried in said grave. The finds of extensively endowed women’s burials in Norway dating from the Roman and Migration Period will first be classified by integrating them into a chronological and regional context, which will allow studying how such finds define social standing, typical activities, and role models of the women as well as how these concepts changed and developed during the covered periods.

Based on these results non-local grave goods, which are part of the Norwegian inventory, will be matched to Norwegian grave gifts found in England and all over Europe to investigate the interregional contacts and relationships of the western Scandinavian population and to evaluate their geographical and chronological depths. Thus, the Norwegian find complexes will render new insights in the political development of the Roman and Migration Period in Europe from a historical point of view, with specific regard to the role women played in these interregional contacts.

At the core of the research idea herein presented are those western Scandinavian inhumation burials of the Roman and Migration Period that contain typical features of the female lifeworld such as brooches and beads, and thus are commonly appointed women’s burial sites. To investigate important aspects these graves and their inventory will be recorded comprehensively and evaluated regarding their meaning to the life of the elite of Scandinavian women.

In the first centuries AD a small part of the western Scandinavian populace performed a major change in their burial rites. Instead of burying their dead in simple cremations, mostly lacking grave gifts, as they used to do, this prosperous group begins to bury their deceased unburnt in elaborate and richly endowed graves. Although some of the graves show individual decorations to some extent these burials match each other in their main features. So they can be easily subsumed into their own category. Furthermore, they can be found up to the 6th century AD in all of western Scandinavia, thus covering the whole period to be investigated in the proposed research.

In the presented project, women’s graves from the said period and from certain Norwegian districts will be collected. For the current project the districts of Hordaland, Rogaland, Vest-Adger, Nord-Trondelag and Nordland had been choosen as examples.  The study itself will focus on the significance of the graves and the objects they contain regarding the life of the western Scandinavian women and their respective role models during the Roman and Migration Period. Special attention will be paid to the non-local objects that made their way from the continent and the British Isles into the graves of Norway. These objects then will be utilized to investigate the interregional and international relationships of the western Scandinavian population more closely from a female perspective.


Dieses Forschungsprojekts wurde auf folgenden Tagungen und Vorträgen der Fachöffentlichkeit präsentiert:

  • Posterpräsentation auf dem 60. Sachsensymposion, 19.-23. September 2009 in Maastricht, Niederlande
  • Gastvortrag am Department for Archaeology and Religious Studies der Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim am 21. April 2010
  • Gastvortrag am Department for Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion (AHKR) der Universität Bergen, Norwegen, am 28. Mai 2010

Eingeworbene Drittmittel:

Norwegian Research Council, Yggdrasil grants for research stays in Norway: Stipendium für einen Forschungsaufenthalt in Norwegen; Laufzeit: 15. März 2010 bis 31. Juli 2010