Decolonizing the Viking Age. 2, Death rituals in south-east Scandinavia AD 800–1000

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


Decolonizing the Viking Age 1 argues that the Scandinavian “Viking Age” can be seen as a system of knowledge constructed in the late 19th century and in its basic structures maintained up to the present day. This system of knowledge was heavily influenced by the nationalistic and evolutionary ideas of its time of making and may be described as a colonialism of the past. The book follows the making of the Viking Age from the start, through the most influential academic studies of the 20th century and up to the most authorative recent works. A deconstruction of its main ideas is then suggested. In the second half of the book, a study of south-east Scandinavia is presented. This study is based upon discussions of “Old Norse” semantics of cultural landscapes, temporality and of the important connection between collective death rituals and the community of large groups of people. The results of this study are found to be incompatible with the knowledge structures of the “Viking Age” and, in a third and concluding part of the book, ways of “decolonization” and of reaching beyond the Viking Age are suggested. Decolonizing the Viking Age 1 is the first part of a dissertation in archaeology in two parts. The second volume, Death Rituals in South-East Scandinavia AD 800–1000. Decolonizing the Viking Age 2, is an archaeological work that creates the empirical foundation for the study of south-east Scandinavia found in the second part of the present volume.

Death Rituals in South-East Scandinavia AD 800–1000 is an archaeological study of burials and cemeteries datable to the “Viking Age” in the present South Scandinavian provinces of Scania, Blekinge, Halland, Bornholm, Öland and south Småland. While burials of the time studied here have previously been thought of as components of a similar pan-Scandinavian Viking Age culture with more or less the same traditions everywhere, the main argument of this work is that mortuary rituals of this time actually followed the specific and rather different cultural norms of a whole number of smaller and larger “ritual systems”. These ritual systems were in some cases specific to small and geographically bounded settlement districts and in other cases to larger areas made up of several geographical regions. Death Rituals in South-East Scandinavia AD 800–1000 makes up the second part of Decolonizing the Viking Age, which is a dissertation in archaeology. While being an independent study of death rituals, the book at the same time creates the empirical base for archaeological discussions in Decolonizing the Viking Age 1.


  • Fredrik Svanberg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History and Archaeology


  • burial, death rituals, grave, society, post-colonial, nationalism, deconstruction, Orientalism., Arkeologi, Archaeology, community, Scandinavia, Viking Age
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Almqvist & Wiksell International
Print ISBNs91-22-02007-1
StatePublished - 2003
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2003-05-16 Time: 10:15 Place: AF-borgens Atensal, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Gräslund, Anne-Sofie Title: Prof. Affiliation: Uppsala universitet ---