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IAS Fellows’ Lecture – Reconstructing Early Scandinavia. People, territories and settlements

November 14 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Public Lecture by Professor Stefan Brink, University of Cambridge


Professor Stefan Brink will start this talk with two fundamental questions, discussing gentes and identities in early Europe: Who coins names? and Was the World during this period discussed organised and geographical space identified out from some spatial, territorial structure, or out from identified people as ethnic groups? Scandinavia was known to the classical authors, who have identified several names on people, such as screrefennae, suehans, theutes, hallin, fervir, ostrogothae etc., which are easily identifiable with historically know people. However,  he will concentrate his talk on the post-Roman period, hence c. 500 to 1100.

Thanks to Archaeology and Toponymy it is possible to reconstruct the Early Medieval settlement structure and also society and the social fabric, although we lack the written sources. He will discuss how it is possible to identify power structures in the landscape, legal assemblies, pagan cult sites and sacral landscapes. The earliest divisions in Scandinavia were the land, where the first element normally is the name of the people living in that land, e.g. Hälsingland, Jämtland, Rogaland, Hordaland, and the  –ríki, e.g. Romerike, Ringerike. A hypothesis is that these land and ríki were legal districts, with some kind of common legal custom and probably a common central assembly. Later on (probably during the Viking Age) these land where taken over by or divided into administrative districts called hærað in southern Scandinavia and hundari in central Sweden, and the question is if we here can count on impact from the Anglo-Saxon world. The most new knowledge from this period of course emanates from research on Vikings, a topic which overshadows any other period. Professor Brink will highlight the new knowledge we have gained recently.

This lecture is free and open to all. Registration is not required to attend in person.



November 14
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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