Symbolic ecclesiastical representations in the High Middle Ages landscape: A single-case study in northern Scandinavia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A regional examination of representations of geographical ecclesiastical features (boundaries, churches, and land use) in northern Scandinavia during the High Middle Ages was performed, using a peripheral parish as a single case. The analysis was based on historical maps, processed using microhistory and retrogressive approaches, and guided by theories of territoriality and landscape. The results showed that some churches were built on outfields, that landownership and prehistoric burials were clustered in two different areas, and that parish boundaries were often located in uninhabited forests between settlements and were sometimes moved. These results are discussed within the context of symbols, relations, and identity, which are complementary to explanations of centrality such as minimum travel distance. The author concludes that this indicates that, based on kinship networks, farmers from the settlement areas built the churches on jointly owned or managed land, which symbolises their collective effort – their sense of ours. Furthermore, settlement desertion during the agrarian crisis is probably the reason behind later changes in parish boundaries.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Human Geography
  • History of Religions


  • church, identity, kinship, parish, symbol
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-97
JournalNorsk Geografisk Tidsskrift
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 May 15
Publication categoryResearch