Smiths, Myths, and Viking Age Stones

Smiths, Myths, and Viking Age Stones

Paper by Harold Williams

Given at the Isle of Man College on May 4, 2016.

In this lecture, Professor Williams will be examining depictions of smiths from Norse mythology on Viking Age stones in the British Isles, as well as on rune-stones and picture-stones from Scandinavia.

In northern England and southern Scotland, archaeologists have long been fascinated by scenes depicting the mythological smiths, Regin and Weland, which have been found on a number of Viking Age stones. In many cases, the scenes include the image of the smith alongside a range of associated items.

By exploring these scenes, Professor Williams will examine the complex identity of the mythological smith, and the role of the smith in early medieval life and society. He will also suggest that by viewing the figure of the smith as a part-human and part-mechanical ‘cyborg’, we can more easily understand the smiths’ role in Norse mythology as transformers of both people and things.


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Howard Williams is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Chester. His research focuses particularly on death, burial, and commemoration. You can find out more about research on his blog, Archaeodeath: Archaeology, Death and Material Culture, including his latest research about Weland the smith.

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