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AY5005: VIKING ARCHAEOLOGY (2018-2019)

Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

In their brief 300-year heyday, the peoples of Viking-Age Scandinavia transformed the northern world, and themselves. This course explores the Vikings at home, abroad, and in their new homes overseas in the developing colonies of the diaspora that stretched from the coasts of North America to the Asian steppe. In lectures and seminars, with hands-on classes looking at the finds, students will consider themes such as settlement and social structure, urbanism and commerce, pagan and Christian religion, and the political process that created the modern nation states of Norway, Sweden and Denmark

Course Details

Study Type Postgraduate Level 5
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Charlotta Hillerdal

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • One of Archaeology (AY) (Studied) or History (HI) (Studied) or Master of Letters in Museum Studies (Studied) or Master of Letters in Scandinavian Studies (Viking & Medieval Studies) (Studied)
  • Any Postgraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Course Aims: This course aims to critically explore the archaeological evidence for the origins, world-view, development and expansion of Scandinavian culture during the Viking Age, c. AD 750-1100. Students will gain an understanding of a major and catalytic period of European history that laid the foundations for many institutions of the modern Western world. As an introduction to the archaeology of the Viking Age, this course will provide students with:
- an insight into the nature of Viking Age Scandinavian society and culture, including settlement and subsistence patterns, material culture, social structures, issues of identity and ethnicity, and world
-views and mentalities from the traditional belief systems of the North to the introduction of Christianity
- an understanding of the political developments in the Viking Age and the transformation from tribal- to state-based societies in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, including the development of urban centres, coinage, and Christian monarchies
- detailed knowledge of the geographical scope of the Viking world, including an understanding of the Viking diaspora and its long-term effects, including the complex patterns of culture contacts and environmental impacts that characterised Scandinavian raiding, warfare, trading, colonisation and settlement activities
- an understanding of how archaeologists combine a range of sources (material, textual and environmental) to achieve a synthetic understanding of a discrete period of history

Content: This course provides students with an overview of the Viking Age peoples of Scandinavia, and their dramatic expansion in the 8th-11th centuries AD. We will review the archaeological evidence for population and settlement patterns, ethnicity and social structure, the development of urban centres and commerce, and Viking Age religion, and will chart the political process that led to the rise of the modern nation states of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. This Scandinavian background will then be set in the wider context of the Viking diaspora, examining Norse contact, conflict, trade and colonisation from Canada in the West to the Asian steppe in the East.

In light of Covid-19 this information is indicative and may be subject to change.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

In light of Covid-19 and the move to blended learning delivery the assessment information advertised for second half-session courses may be subject to change. All updates for second-half session courses will be actioned in advance of the second half-session teaching starting. Please check back regularly for updates.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: One 3000-word essay chosen from a range of options (30%); a project presented in the form of an A0 poster representing the backboard of a museum display (30%) and an independent advanced research project (topic selection must be in agreement with course-coordinator) (40%)


Resit: Not applicable

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.



Course Learning Outcomes


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