Hästarnas land: Aristokratisk hästhållning och ridkonst i Svealands yngre järnålder
2001 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
The aim of the dissertation is to discuss aristocratic horse-keeping and riding in Late Iron Age central Svealand (e. 550-1060 AD).
Horse keeping is studied against the background of historical sources. Horses have been kept out of doors all year round in many areas, with or without human supervision. This was probably also the case during the Iron Age. The system makes possible to keep a herd of horses as an extra resource. The number and quality of these horses could have contributed to their owners' power, wealth and status.
Horse-related artefacts from four sites, the boat-grave cemeteries Valsgärde, Vendel, and Tuna in Alsike parish, and the chamber graves from Birka are analysed from a functional viewpoint, focusing on the bits. These are all shown to be snaffle bits.
The iconography of Gotlandic picture-stones, runestones from Uppland and picture foils on helmets from Vendel, Valsgärde and Sutton Hoo show proud, well-trained horses on slack reins. This is likely to reflect the ideal of how horses should perform.
The sagas are used to discuss the 'ideal' horse of the era. Although the pedigree was of some importance, the quality of the horse was more dependent on abilities such as power and speed.
Birds of prey and sighthounds occur in c. 30 graves in Sweden. These varieties of hunting are closely connected to the use of the horse, and to the aristocracy. The find assemblages of graves with birds of prey place 40 % of these graves on the highest social level. Mounted falconers are depicted on runestones and picture-stones.
The military use of the horse is discussed in two case studies: a comparative analysis of the 10th century graves with horses/horse tack and weapons in Birka and the boat-grave cemeteries, and a study on the horses, tack and riding depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry. The grave study supports the theory that the southern part of Hemlanden was the cemetery of the hird. On the Bayeux tapestry horses and riders alike are shown to be well trained. The movements terre à terre and carriere, known from the written records of the baroque, was clearly used by these 11th Century riders.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2001. , 260 p.
Occasional papers in archaeology, ISSN 1100-6358 ; 28
Archaeology, horsemanship, art of riding, aristorcracy, boatgraves, falconry, iconography
Research subject Archaeology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-97ISBN: 91-506-1471-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-97DiVA: diva2:173307
2001-06-07, Dekansalen, Dekanhuset, Uppsala, 10:00