Frida Espolin Norstein
Viking women and oval brooches
Expressing female identities in life and death
Þriðjudaginn 13. mars 2018 kl. 16.30
Oval brooches are found all over the Viking world, to such an extent that they are seen as the most common form of female jewellery in the Viking Age. They are often seen as the clearest indication of female Viking burial. This is also the case in the British Isles and Iceland, where their presence suggest the presence of Viking women, many presumably migrants from Scandinavia. A thorough study of the oval brooches found in the western Viking settlements indicate that they were not made there, nor do they seem to be imported for sale. The differences we see in types, variations, and quality would suggest that they arrived in the west with women from Scandinavia. This is further supported by the fact that many of them have signs of wear and repair. This demonstrates that they had been in use for a relatively long time before ending up in the graves.
Using examples from Iceland, Scotland, and Ireland this lecture will focus on how these brooches were used, and what this could tell us about women in these areas. Through an examination of use-wear, there will be a discussion of how they were used in life, but also of the role they might have played in funerary rites. I will argue that these brooches, in addition to signifying the presence of Scandinavian women, would have been important for creating and communicating Scandinavian female identities in the overseas settlements.
Frida Espolin Norstein is a PhD candidate in archaeology at Gothenburg University. She has previously studied at the University of York and the University of Oslo. Her work is mainly concerned with Viking burial in the British Isles and Iceland, in particular female burial.
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