Identities in the Viking Worlds

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

In the past decade a number of projects have brought the concept of identities to the forefront of Viking Age research. Projects have focused on how identities are created, maintained, and manipulated in both the Scandinavian homelands and the wider world of the Viking diaspora. Closely related is a better developed understanding of relationships between the various nodes connected as part of networks created by trade, migration, settlement and conquest. These relationships allowed for a flow of people, resources, objects, and ideas both out of and back into homelands new and old. With the increased use of scientific techniques the nature of Viking research is becoming increasingly multidisciplinary; genetics, isotopic analyses and network theory have been added to the existing repertoires of archaeology, history, linguistics and toponymics and more. The aim of this session is to take stock of current research, and to evaluate how new evidence may challenge, confirm or corroborate both former research into Viking identities and the different approaches.

Other Keywords
VikingMaterial CultureIdentityEthnicityEnvironmentTechnologyTextilesMobilityIcelandViking Age

Geographic Keywords

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-8 of 8)

  • Documents (8)

  • Craft and Identity in the Viking World (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Steven Ashby.

    When considered at all, objects of bone and antler tend to be discussed in functional terms. Occasionally, ornate objects such as hair combs may be seen as communicators of information. In this paper I will argue that if such objects tell us anything about identity, it is not through their form or ornament, but through the tradition in which they were made. Crafts are grown out of tradition, which means that objects are reservoirs of important cultural and social information. For the...

  • Diasporas and Identities in the Viking Age (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher Callow.

    This paper briefly sets out and analyses recent terminological discussions among archaeologists and other scholars working on regions influenced and settled by 'vikings' in the Viking Age, c.800-c.1050CE. 'Diaspora' has, perhaps belatedly, been a term applied to the pattern of social and economic relationships linking some communities across Europe and the North Atlantic. The applicability of the term 'diaspora' or of seeing a series of diasporic communities will be considered alongside the more...

  • Environment and Identity in the Viking Age North Atlantic (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Orri Vesteinsson.

    The cultures that arose in the North Atlantic during the Viking Age - the Scottish Isles, Faroes, Iceland and Greenland - were emphatically Norse in their ethnic signalling. Yet the environments of these islands, especially the more westerly ones, were significantly different from Scandinavia or Britain and supported quite different lifeways, different economic strategies, settlement patterns and material cultures. Focusing on Iceland and Greenland the paper aims to highlight the tension...

  • Female mobility in the Viking Worlds (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Catrine Jarman.

    Recent reassessments of the gender balance among Viking Age Scandinavian populations in the British Isles have suggested a greater presence of immigrant women than previously thought. At the same time, increasing support for a view of the Viking world as a diaspora, with a sustained network between the original and the acquired homelands, has necessitated a better understanding of the mechanics of the migration process. This paper evaluates interdisciplinary evidence for the level of mobility...

  • Identities in a Viking winter camp (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dawn Hadley.

    From 865, Viking raids on England intensified with the arrival of an army much larger than any previously known. This so-called 'Great Army' (micel here) raided northern and eastern England, spending the winter at a number of sites recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, but which, until recently, have remained archaeologically elusive. Recent fieldwork at a handful of these sites, some of which were first identified by metal detectorists, has now begun both to identify their precise locations...

  • Identity, self-image and cultural expression in Viking Age Sweden (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson.

    The people of Viking Age Scandinavia shared a common culture and could as a group be regarded as Northmen or people from the North. It is clear, however, that contemporary Northmen recognised differences between, and divisions within, their own cultural and political sphere. In order to advance in our interpretation and understanding of the Northmen and their geographical expansion during the Viking Age, we need to recognise these differences, which they themselves were well aware of. The Viking...

  • Long distances/ local dynamics: overcoming ‘culture history’ (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Griffiths.

    This paper will begin by reviewing how ‘Viking Archaeology’ came about in the 19th and 20th centuries. Formed under the influence of a handful of key scholars, with their primary index of recognition based in Scandinavian museum collections, a widely-accepted paradigm of Nordic precedence was created. Aided by a series of influential Scandinavian publications, this stance produced a seemingly fixed series of cultural references, creating a strongly-identified intrusive ethnic grouping in...

  • Weaving Identities (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christina Lee.

    My paper will look at textiles as marker of identity in the Viking Disapora in Britain and Ireland. While oval brooches and metal work have been given prominent roles in the discussion of identity, the textiles they adorned are often only mentioned in passing. However, techniques and fabrics may tell us something about connections with the homelands, as well as identities which are maintained in the areas of the Viking diaspora. SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society...