Gräslund, Anne-Sofie, 2001. Ideologi och Mentalitet – om religionsskiftet i Skandinavien från en arkeologisk horisont (Ideology and Mentality – the conversion of Scandinavia from an archaeological horizon)
Occasional Papers in Archaeology 29, Uppsala. 172 pp., 40 figs, ISSN 1100-6358, ISBN 91-506-1481-9.
The aim of this work is to show the potential of archaeological evidence to highlight the process of Christianization. The common picture of the conversion in Scandinavia has been too much influenced by the written sources. The concepts of ideology and mentality are discussed in order to understand some of the mechanisms of the conversion.
Archaeological evidence, such as cult sites and settlements, remains of the earliest church buildings, rune stones, graves and artefacts, is scrutinised to trace Christianization. The question of cult place continuity is discussed. The process of transition can be best followed in the burial customs: from pagan cremations with rich equipment including animals, to oriented inhumation graves, first still with rich grave-goods and animals, then only with jewellery and artefacts attached to the dress and, at last, to burials in the churchyards.
Christianization is also analysed from a female perspective, and it is argued, supported by archaeological evidence and runic inscriptions, that Scandinavian women played an important role in the conversion. This is a general pattern known in the history of missions with evidence from various historical times and different areas.
Regional variations are analysed using Jämtland, Möre and Öland as case studies. Early Christian influences are found in these regions, although in different ways and to a different extent.
The fundamental questions when, how, where, why and from where Christianity came to Scandinavia are discussed. Apart from the German mission, there are also good archaeological and philological arguments for an intense English mission. Influences from the Slavonic/Polish area could have been important as well, especially through dynastic alliances. The concluding discussion concerns how people at the grass-root level saw and were affected by the conversion.
Key words: burial customs, Christianity, Christian objects, conversion, cult places, gender, rune stones