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Women and Men of the Viking Age

Women and Men of the Viking Age

Lecture by Alexandra Sanmark

Given at the University of the Highlands and Islands on September 16, 2021

Abstract: The Viking Age is often connected to violent raiding and pillaging, with much emphasises on the activities of men. Viking women have been paid some attention, especially in recent years, with the roles of some highlighted. These, however, tend to be the “strong women” of the Icelandic sagas, highlighted as exceptional, while the lives of other women remain underexplored.

Professor Sanmark’s lecture will discuss gender roles in the Viking Age, with particular attention to how women and men have been perceived in previous research.

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This is examined to highlight preconceptions that have influenced the research results. The main focus of the analysis is placed on “housewives” and their assigned roles at the farms, as well women with other roles – in modern research often labelled “norm breakers” – such as ritual specialists, warriors, travellers and settlers.

The presentation will end by proposing new approaches to the study of the roles of women and men, stressing that all lives are worthy of examination, regardless of their roles and status, and ability to influence society.

Alexandra Sanmark is Professor of Medieval Archaeology at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Her research interests are in Iron Age Scandinavia, in particular the Viking Age and the Viking Expansion in the west. Click here to view her university webpage or follow Alexandra on Twitter @alexsanmark

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Top Image: Photo of Valkyrie from Hårby. Photo by Gilwellian / Wikimedia Commons

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