Contesting Marginality: The Boreal Forest of Inland Scandinavia and the Worlds Outside, AD – 1500 AD

Project director: Karl-Johan Lindholm

Project abstract

The main objective of this project is to understand the role of Scandinavia’s forested inland in the larger historical developments that took place in northern Europe in the Iron Age and the Middle Ages (AD–1500 AD). Current research indicates that an increasing amount of goods from the forested region accumulated in the early central places, discoveries that challenge conventional understandings of the inland region. These discoveries also point out a knowledge gap this project will address; how did the people in the forested inland
structure their communities, landscapes and relations with the surrounding world?


The proposed project will address these issues by drawing upon a theoretical framework of niche construction, landscape domestication and entanglement, and by studying relict hotspots of biocultural heritage, which are visible remains of past
practices in the landscape, in archaeological sites, in place names and as responses in the forests vegetation and soils.

The project will challenge a prevailing view on the forested inland as marginal and situated outside the historical developments of Scandinavia. We forward the hypothesis that from early first millennium AD innovative, active and knowledgeable communities of the forested inland were socially and economically integrated into systems of trade and interaction with the worlds outside, which in turn became crucial components for Viking Age and early medieval state formation processes and early urbanisation.