Death as an architect of societies Burial and social identity during the Viking Age in South-western Scania
Lunds University Department of Archaeology and Ancient History: Master Thesis in Archaeology – ARKM21, Spring Semester (2014)
In this thesis I explore the subject on how burial was used by Viking Age population of South-western Scania to express their social identity. As opposed to most earlier research concerning Viking Age burials I utilise regional, mourner-centred and practice-based approach. I am following observations conducted for burials in Denmark by J. Ulriksen (2011), focused on traces of deposition of burned and unburned human remains in the grave fills, the practice of opening the burial and tracing the intersection and overlays of the graves. I have selected the graves from a catalogue of burials in South-eastern Scandinavia compiled by F. Svanberg (2003b) on a basis of displaying possible signs of those practices. In effect, burial grounds at Önsvala, Ljungbacka, Stävie, Norrvidinge, Trelleborg and Råga Hörstad were selected.
As I perceive social dimension as the most important in this thesis, introduction chapter starts with the definition of social identity as processual in nature, fluent and contextual. Identities are perceived as displayed through performance, following development in gender studies. I understand rituals as a privileged practice, following the theories of ritualisation. Graves are seen as a result of action, and as such, are analysed with stratigraphic observations and observations derived from field anthropology. In the analysis of burial context, the written sources possess only limited significance. They are, however, employed to create a model of social relations in the Viking Age emphasising the importance of social connections for the perception of an individual as a person and his social significance.