Social inequality, structural violence, and marginalisation in Viking-Age Scandinavia

The goal of this project is to develop an interdisciplinary, multi-proxy framework for the identification and study of social inequality among Scandinavian communities during the Viking Age (c. 750-1050 CE).

To date, research paradigms in Viking-Age archaeology have focused almost exclusively on elite populations. The lives of lower-status and subaltern groups, in contrast, have been neglected. In redressing this imbalance, the project team will combine bioarchaeological (osteological and isotopic) analyses of skeletal assemblages with critical studies of archaeological materials and context as a means of identifying vulnerable and marginalised populations within the burial record. Drawing on a rich corpus of burial evidence from excavated cemeteries in modern-day Sweden, the team will examine the ways in which overarching social structures, hierarchies, and inequality impacted the health and lifeways of different socio-economic groups. In addition to providing a new and crucially overlooked perspective on daily life and interaction in Viking-Age Scandinavia, the project will also make a positive contribution to salient discussions of systemic inequality and disparity that are of relevance to contemporary society. The methodological framework developed for the study, furthermore, will be suitable for use in other cross-cultural contexts, thereby providing a baseline for further research that extends across and outside of the archaeological discipline.

Project director: Ben Raffield

Last modified: 2022-01-13