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Gård, gräns, gravfält: sammanhang kring ädelmetalldepåer och runstenar från vikingatid och tidig medeltid i Uppland och Gästrikland
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies.
1998 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Farm, boundary, cemetery : connections between precious metal deposits and rune stones from the Viking Age and early Middle Ages in Uppland and Gästrikland (English)
Abstract [en]

Silver and gold deposits from the Viking Age give the contemporaneous societies in the Nordic countries, in particular Sweden, a shining and impressive exterior. Why was this gold and silver unclaimed? What kind of cultural traditions surrounded the deposits of silver and gold from the Viking Age and Early Middle Ages? To reach an understanding of this the author analyses two different aspects, namely, the conceptions that can have been associated with deposits of silver and gold, and the reconstructed milieus where the precious metal was deposited in the provinces of Uppland and Gästrikland in middle Sweden.

A person's fortune was intimately linked to the precious metal he owned. Treasure legends indicate that treasures could be perceived distinctly in the landscape, but at the same time were impossible to reach for anyone but their true owners. If one took a treasure by force, one also stole the other person's well-being and luck. This was probably considered to be a fatal act.

Both written source material and material culture show that people viewed and treated gold and silver differently. There are 52 silver and 13 gold deposits known from the period c. 850-1200 in Uppland and Gästrikland. The "normal" deposit is small; three fourths of the finds have a weight below 500 grams.

It is the farm with its farmstead, cemeteries and boundaries that is the relevant context for the silver deposits. The gold deposits, on the other hand, might have belonged to another level in the landscape than the farm. The Late Viking Age rune stone is the key to a deeper understanding of the places for silver deposits. The rune stone is interpreted as a Christian monument which, in words and images, tries to help the deceased remembered on the stone to reach the eternal light. I argue that the older group among these rune stones was erected by people who had a double identity, that is, they were both members of the royally founded town of Sigtuna and owners of farms in the countryside. The later group of rune stones was more closely connected with the Church and can be interpreted as a result of a missionary campaign.

An analysis of a limited district shows that rune stones during the entire eleventh century were erected at the boundaries of a farm and at certain times also in the farmyard. This is interpreted as if the rune stone constituted a gate inwards to the farm domain and a protection outwards for a Christian farm. The silver deposits from c. 850-1100 can have been part of the heathen rituals to guard and secure the welfare of a farm, whereas the later silver deposits from c. 1100-1200 require a different explanation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för arkeologi och antikens kultur , 1998. , 411 p.
Stockholm Studies in Archaeology, ISSN 0349-4128 ; 15
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-37012ISBN: 91-7153-695-7OAI: diva2:291809
Public defence
1998-01-30, Hörsal 6, hus C, Södra huset, Frescati, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2010-02-03 Created: 2010-02-03 Last updated: 2013-09-04Bibliographically approved

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Zachrisson, Torun
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