The use of the past today as well as in the Viking Age takes place materially as well as as reference points. The project examines how the past was used in Viking Age societies. Simultaneously, the focus has been on why the past was so actively used by various social groups. In particular the relationship between the use of the past and the ontology of the Viking Age and the social processes that took place within this period have been central to the project. Monuments such as burial mounds, rune stones, kerbstones and ship settings and their relationships to structures from previous periods have been important starting points for the analyses. The materiality of these structure, including their geochemical components in the burial mounds, the origins of the soils from surrounding fields, and the impression they left on the senses of the participants at the burial rituals have been central. These include the capacities of the kerbstones, which gave the burial mounds an appearance of being more than 600 years older, than they really were. It also includes the use of effects in terms of colour differences and different structures for the various layers of soils as part of the construction of the burial mounds. Likewise, the use of references to the past at the rune stones in their inscription as well as their placement in the landscape have been important means of analysing the use of the past in the Viking Age. Analyses of the Viking Age hoards have shown that the past was also being referenced through this type of objects that were more intimately connected to individuals, who may have worn them on the bodies, as they may have been obtained as heirlooms passed on through generations. The project has demonstrated that the use of the past in the Viking Age were conscious actions which had very different effects depending on which social groups that made them and used them as reference points. In addition, power as a concept and a phenomenon in archaeology has been reevaluated along with the traditional conceptual link between the use of the past and legitimisation of power. Simultaneously, the project has shown the potential of comparing the use of the past in the Viking Age with the use of the past in societies today as part of critical cultural heritage studies.
Projektet har resulteret i nuancerede modeller for, hvordan fortid blev brug i fortiden. Traditionelt har fortidsbrug i fortiden været tolket som et middel for en elite til at legitimere sin magtposition. Denne model er blevet udfordret af projektets analyser. Da fortidsbrug i vikingetiden spillede en central rolle i menneskers selvforståelse, identitet og i beslutningsprocesser, vil en fornyet forståelse af dette felt havde på samfundet bidrage til at udfordre disse modeller også i forhold til fortidsbrug i dagens samfund, dvs i kulturarvsforskningen og forvaltningen. Gennem at vise, at fortiden blev brugt på mange ganske divergerende måde i vikingetiden, kan projektets resultater bruges direkte til at generere ny kundskab om, hvordan fortid bruges i dag. Projektet muliggør dermed andre ideer om, hvad tid er i dag, og hvilken rolle fortiden skal spille i fremtiden. Dette vil kunne indvirke både på kulturminneforvaltningen, lovgivningen om kulturminder, og formidlingen af fortid.
This project will explore how and why the past was used in Viking Age Scandinavia, the 9th to mid 11th century AD. The primary hypothesis is that, when compared to earlier periods of prehistory, the accentuation of the past increased significantly in the Viking Age. In the Carolingian Renaissance the Christian Roman Empire of the 4th century AD was used as an ideal and referential point. In contrast the Viking Age, an oral and not a written society, did not use a single period, but rediscovered and referenced multiple pasts, either materially or referentially, through material culture.
Thus far, only burials have been studied with the purpose of exploring the use of the past in the Viking Age. This project will also examine other types of structures in order to conduct a comprehensive study of the use of the past with varying levels and scales. The recycling of material culture of the past in the Viking Age will be examined in the reiteration of grave monuments at settlements and central places; it will explore the raising of rune stones as a means of creating places for commemoration; and it will be investigate through the utilisation of antique artefacts and objects that stylistically referred to previous centuries in the Viking Age.
In combining the analyses built upon a number of archaeological theories, the project will develop approaches which focus on different aspects of the relationships between humans, artefacts and places created in the past. A key point for this study of Viking Age social memory is that these approaches open the opportunity for considering memory as operating within the realms connecting portable artefacts and monumental architecture. Material and referential use of the past thus provide society with the means to connect with distant times. Hence, the projects task is not simply to identify monuments and artefacts where the Vikings displayed antiquarian tendencies, but to explore the ideas connecting humans, artefacts and revered plac