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Worshipping the Dead: Viking Age Cemeteries as Cult Sites?

Viking Age grave field south of Borg (the Viking Stronghold) at Birka archaeological site on Björkö island in Lake Mälaren. Viking Age Birka and Hovgården from the from the 8th to 10th century is today a UNESCO World Heritage. Photo by Harald Faith-Ell, taken in 1926

The examined saga accounts demonstrate that when the dead are venerated by the living and when sacrifices are made to them, these acts of worship usually occur at the graveside and not elsewhere in the landscape or within buildings.

Number Symbolism in Old Norse Literature

numbers

It is generally agreed that some numbers such as three and nine which appear frequently in the two Eddas hold special significances in Norse mythology. Furthermore, numbers appearing in sagas not only denote factual quantity, but also stand for specific symbolic meanings.

Berserkir: a re-examination of the phenomenon in literature and life

Iron helmet from a Vendel era (550-793 AD) boat grave in Vendel, Uppland, Sweden. Displayed at the Museum of History in Stockholm. Photo by Mararie  / Wikimedia Commons

This thesis discusses whether berserkir really went berserk.

Women in Viking-Age Scandinavia, or, who were the ‘shieldmaidens’?

The Viking shieldmaiden Lagertha, depicted in The Northmen in Britain (1913) by Eleanor Means Hull

I will address two questions: a) how are we to interpret the descriptions of these war-like women in the past, and b) does the contrast between active pagan and passive Christian women reflect real changes?

7 Things One Should Know When Dealing with Kings: The Icelander’s Version

Christian Krohg illustration in an 1890s edition of Heimskringl

Here is MaryAnn R. Adams’ winning advice on how to deal with Norse kings.

Doors to the dead: The power of doorways and thresholds in Viking Age Scandinavia

Photograph of Þjóðveldisbærinn in Iceland, a reconstruction of the Viking Longhouse Stöng.  Photo by Thomas Ormston / Flickr

It is argued that Viking Age people built ‘doors to the dead’ of various types, such as freestanding portals, causewayed ring-ditches or thresholds to grave mounds; or on occasion even buried their dead in the doorway.

The Vikings and clothing accessories they brought home

Mounting from a reliquary, produced in Northumbria in the 8th century. The mounting have been modified and was used as a brooch. It was found in a woman's grave from the second part of the 9th century, in Buskerud, Norway - Photo courtesy University of Oslo Museum of Cultural History

New study on the use of imported objects in Viking Age Scandinavia

Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them

Ivory Vikings by Nancy Marie Brown

Read an excerpt from the latest book by Nancy Marie Brown

‘God helped thee; The eagle got food afresh’: Norse Crusaders and the Pleasure of Killing

King Sigurd and his men ride into Miklagard by Gerhard Munthe.

The men of the north are often depicted in the Norse sagas as taking great pleasure in killing, even doing it for no good reason

Reflections on Our Fascination with Vikings and What It Tells Us about How We Engage with the Past

A Viking Sword that has been heated and bent before being included in a burial. It is believed that the sword may have been symbolically killed. Photo by Astrid Westvang / Flickr

What drives our fascination with these people who lived so long ago, about whom we know relatively little and yet who my students see very clearly and definitively?

An Eye for Odin? Divine Role-Playing in the Age of Sutton Hoo

Sutton Hoo helmet at the British Museum

This paper presents some new observations concerning the construction of the Sutton Hoo helmet, as a point of entry to a wider discussion of pre-Christian religious and ideological links across Scandinavia.

Rich and Powerful: The Image of the Female Deity in Migration Age Scandinavia

Sif (1909) by John Charles Dollman

I believe serious blunders have been made concerning the identification of males and females. It
is simply inadmissable to interpret any figure with open, shoulder-length hair as female when all the evidence for the centuries in question shows females have only been depicted with long hair tied in the Irish ribbon knot.

Tolkien and the Viking Heritage

Rohirrim

Much has already been written about the influence of Norse mythology on The Lord of the Rings. Less research has so far been done about how other aspects of the culture and history of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons influenced Tolkien’s writing.

Continuity: Folklore’s Problem Child?

Odins Riddles

Few topics play a more central role in the way scholars have thought – and, in some cases, continue to think – about medieval folk cultures than has the issue of continuity.

Poems by a Viking

Poems by a Viking

What was a poem by a Viking like? In his new book, Crimsoning the Eagle’s Claw, Ian Crockatt has translated dozens of poems of one of the most famous poets from the Norse world.

Ragnar Lothbrok and the Semi-Legendary History of Denmark

Ragnar meets Aslaug, as depicted by August Malmström (1829–1901)

An investigation into the historical models for the legendary/literary figure Ragnar Lothbrok, including discussion of semi-legendary Danish history from the early sixth to late ninth centuries. Presents an argument for a female model, Lothbroka.

The Picts and the Martyrs or Did Vikings Kill the Native Population of Orkney and Shetland?

orkney - photo by Jan Reinecke / Flickr

I suspect that the Norse invaders of Orkney and Shetland didn’t just overwhelm’, or ‘submerge’ the native population: I think they killed them.

Viking raids were for more than just money, historian says

Vale of York Hoard - Carolingian Cup -  photo by vintagedept / Wikipedia

In his article, ‘What really caused the Viking Age? The social content of raiding and exploration’, Steven P. Ashby, a medieval archaeologist and lecturer at the University of Cambridge, outlines the many factors that would have prompted Norsemen – both the elites and the regular men – to conduct their raids across Europe.

Vikings in the Prehistoric Landscape: Studies on Mainland Orkney

Orkney and Shetland Blaeu - Atlas of Scotland 1654

Norse colonists in Orkney contended not only with the islands’ existing occupants, but also with a foreign landscape filled with visible ancient monuments. This paper provides a brief synthesis of the results of research on the landscapes of Viking-Age and Late-Norse Orkney which explored the strategies undertaken by the Norse settlers to re-model their social identities in their adopted environment.

‘Black Men and Malignant-Looking’: The Place of the Indigenous Peoples of North America in the Icelandic World View

Inuit - My Life with the Eskmo (1922) - Vilhjalmur Stefansson

As they headed back to the ship they saw three hillocks on the beach inland from the cape. Upon coming closer they saw there were three hide-covered boats, with three men under each of them.

The Rök Stone – Riddles and answers

rok stone - photo by Bengt Olof ÅRADSSON / Wikipedia

Challenges to the mind were popular at the Frankish court at the time of the Rök Stone. Due to the political situation in Scandinavia at that time the stone was made in a combined Swedish and international context. The methods of the stone are clearly influenced by the Frankish renaissance initiated by Alcuin of York.

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