Hällristarnas hem - Gårdsbebyggelse och struktur i Pryssgården under bronsålder

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The purpose of this thesis is an attempt to comprehend the society and the ideology of the Bronze Age from the inherent symbolism, shape and structure of buildings. In every society, the smallest social unit is the household. The house and the household are central in the lives of people. They made their choices to organize their existence in a symbiotic cooperation with the general cosmology and ideology. Houses and settlements can, just as graves and cemeteries, be used in the interpretation of values, imaginary worlds and structures of different societies. My work is founded on a microanalysis of the large settlement at Pryssgården.

Pryssgården is one of the largest prehistoric settlements known in Sweden. It was discovered during the rerouting of the E4 as a motorway outside Norrköping. Here people have lived and worked for at least 4,000 years; from the end of the Stone Age until today. The archaeological results of this excavation show an extensive settlement, centered on the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. Östergötland is an area peripheral to the central areas of the south Scandinavian Bronze Age culture.

An important source of inspiration for my thesis is Gerritsen's model "The cultural biography of houses". In this model he connects the life-cycle of houses to that of households.

The shapes of houses in the settlement have varied considerably during the Bronze Age. We have been able to identify 21 long-houses and 12 smaller houses, as well as 2 remains of huts, dated to the Bronze Age. The long-houses have varied in size, a variation that seems to be socially conditioned rather than chronological.

At Pryssgården, the farm has been both a social unit and a production unit. The people identified themselves with their farm, which gave them a certain social position. With an agrarian population, it has been of importance to show ones identification with a certain area. In this way one obtained different rights in the society. Traditions would be important, with fertility cults and worship of ancestors as integral parts in the everyday life of people, in order to secure subsistence from the land and the future of the farm.

In my comparative analysis with the settlements in Apalle and Fosie, the existence of stable farm structures is clearly shown. In settlement archaeology, these changes in the use of the physical space are otherwise referred to the Early Iron Age.

People and domestic animals lived in the Bronze Age landscape. The farming of the land, the ancestors and the supernatural were closely knitted in a complex cosmology. During the Late Bronze Age a condensed and stable farm construction existed. The ancestral cult and the fertility cult were integral parts of everyday life, a way of creating a sense of belonging and continuity to a certain area. During the Bronze Age the individual was placed in the centre - it may well be that people had a more private relationship with the land they farmed.


  • Hélène Borna-Ahlkvist
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Archaeology


  • Antikens och forntidens historia, Ancient history, individual, household, settlement structure, houses, farms, Bronze Age, Östergötland, Pryssgården, Norrköping, Archaeology, Arkeologi, Cultural anthropology, ethnology, Kulturantropologi, etnologi
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2002 Mar 8
  • Riksantikvarieämbetet
Print ISBNs91-7209-241-6
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2002-03-08 Time: 10:15 Place: Carolinasalen, Kungshuset, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Widholm, Dag Title: Ph dr Affiliation: [unknown] ---