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Från stenkrigare till borgjarl: Befästningskonsten i östra Sverige, 375-750 e.Kr
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Archaeology.
2023 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The main fortification tradition of pre-Viking Age eastern Sweden consisted of defensive walls built in an advanced dry-stone technique, some including internal timber-lacing and supporting earthen banks. Erected on mountain crests, hillocks, plains and shorelines, these constructions were part of the martial landscape of an immensely transformative period in Scandinavian Iron Age. However, inadequate temporal and spatial frameworks have long hampered any engagement with this phenomenon. In combination with the profound demilitarization of these walls and ramparts, which dominated Swedish archaeology from c. 1990 and two decades on, this has resulted in a state of knowledge of this tradition that is not on a par with the significance it once had.

The thesis addresses these issues by establishing the chronology of this architectural tradition and, with this tool, by exploring the martial dimensions of the fortifications as well as the lifestyle of those behind the walls. Data from c. 80 excavations of various sizes, many of them carried out in the 20th century, are processed and combined with on-site analyses of the architecture and layout of the individual walls. Episodes concerning the concept of fortification in the Beowulf poem are examined and compared to the archaeological material. 

An approach is adopted which views the material culture of the fortifications as physical expressions of a complex network or system made up by the social, economic, religious and ideological elements that define the character of warfare and its participants. All members of a society are part of and influence such “war systems” practically as well as normatively, consciously or not.

The study argues that the fortification tradition including the dry-stone technique was not static, widespread or an architectural monoculture. Instead, it was constantly evolving during the period AD 375/400-700/750 in relation to changing needs, ideals and skills according to regional conditions in the political and geographical landscape. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Institutionen för arkeologi och antik historia, Uppsala universitet , 2023. , p. 352
Series
Aun, ISSN 0284-1347 ; 54
Keywords [en]
Iron Age, pre-Viking Age, Scandinavia, Sweden, fortification, architecture, martial, landscape, war, warfare
Keywords [sv]
järnålder, Skandinavien, Sverige, borg, befästning, befästningskonst, arkitektur, landskap, krig
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-509111ISBN: 978-91-506-3015-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-509111DiVA, id: diva2:1789037
Public defence
2023-10-06, Humanistiska teatern, Thunbergsvägen 3C, 752 38, Uppsala, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Berit Wallenberg Foundation, BWS 2018.0097Available from: 2023-09-15 Created: 2023-08-17 Last updated: 2024-01-25

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Bornfalk Back, Anders

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