PhD Project at the Museum of Cultural History

I had the pleasure to inform that in October I was awarded the PhD scholarship at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo. During three following years, I will conduct my project entitled “On Wings to the Otherworld: Bird Remains in Viking Age Graves from Scandinavia and the British Isles”. Its aim is to analyse bird bones which were discovered in various Viking Age cremation and inhumation graves.

In the background, it is a renowned and majestic ship which was discovered under the mound in Gokstad. In this fascinating and very complex grave of a man were not only documented numerous wooden objects (e.g. small boats, wooden axe, shields), richly decorated mounts (parts of a bridle or harness) but also remains of various species of animals. Near ship were found skeletons of eight dogs (six dogs were long-legged and two were small) and twelve horses (they were the size of Fjord horse). What is interesting, under the deck of the ship, between second and third frame from the stern, were found bones of probably two peacocks. During the reanalyses of osteological material were discovered also bones of the two hawks, which were probably buried with peacocks.

Grave from Gokstad is one of the most important graves which I will analyse during my PhD project.

Currently, this majestic ship is preparing for 3D scanning. This documentation is conducted by Bjarte Aarseth (in the background in the first photo).

I would like to thank Professor Jan Bill for special photo permission.

New article ‘Asche und Knochen. Vogelüberreste in wikingerzeitlichen Gräbern auf den Nordfriesischen Inseln und in Dänemark’

I have the pleasure to inform that my article entitled ‘Asche und Knochen. Vogelüberreste in wikingerzeitlichen Gräbern auf den Nordfriesischen Inseln und in Dänemark‘ was published in issue 17 of Arkæologi i Slesvig / Archäologie in Schleswig. It is not only my first article ever but also my first work concerning bird bones in Viking Age graves. In it I discussed several fascinating inhumation and cremation graves in which were discovered remains of different species of birds. Data, which I analysed in this article, were collected in the scope of my DAAD project ‘Birds in Viking Age Mortuary Practices‘.

Abstract

Burial practices in Viking Age Scandinavia were very complex. Women, men and children were buried in different types of graves and were equipped with numerous objects (e. g. jewellery, pots, textiles, tools and weapons). Moreover, the graves could also contain animals such as dogs, deer, fish, horses and different birds.

Bones of these ‘winged’ animals were and are discovered in different graves in Denmark and in the Schleswig region. Such remains have been found in both cremation graves and in inhumation graves with various internal and external constructions. In the Schleswig region on the North Frisian Islands (Amrum, Föhr, Sylt), these bones are known only from several cremation graves placed under mounds whereas in Denmark, bird remains were found in cremation and inhumation graves.

This article will discuss graves from Denmark and the Schleswig region in which bird bones were discovered. It will also present an overview of problems related to the determination and description of bird bones from funerary contexts. In addition, it will compare the graves from these areas with those from Norway and Sweden. This article describes the meaning of birds in funerary ‘dramas’ depicted in the medieval written sources (e. g. Ibn Fadlān Risāla, legendary sagas) and compares them with archaeological evidence.

Recordings of TAG Deva Papers

I have the pleasure to inform that recordings of captivating papers which were presented during TAG session ‘Beasts, Birds and Other Fauna: Animals and Their Meaning in the Early Middle Ages‘ (which I have the honour to host) are available on YouTube channel Recording Archaeology.

Many thanks to Doug for wonderful recordings!

Papers

‘Birds of Battle? Myths and Materialities of Eagles and Ravens in the Old Norse World’ by Kathryn A. Haley-Halinski (University of Cambridge)

‘The Birds of the Manx Crosses’ by Dr Dirk H. Steinforth (Independent Researcher)

‘Dead Dogs are so 9th Century: Challenging the Dramatic Turn in the Interpretation of Viking Mortuary Animal Sacrifice’ by Dr Thomas Davis (University of Glasgow)

‘Shifting Baselines of the British Hare Goddess(es)?’ by Dr Luke John Murphy (University of Leicester) and Dr Carly Ameen (University of Exeter)

See also the YouTube playlist ‘TAG Deva 2018: Beasts, Birds and Other Fauna: Animals and Their Meaning in the Early Middle Ages’.