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Settlement and Landscape in the Iron Age

The research team aims to strengthen research on landscape utilisation and settlement history in the Iron Age (BC 500- 1000 AD), and link this more closely to the results from the Museum of Cultural History (MCH) excavations. How have people adapted to the landscape, and which strategies have been chosen in different types of social and topographical landscapes?

Image may contain: Body of water, Highland, Nature, Natural landscape, Lake district.

Hundorp in Gudbrandsdalen photographed by a drone.

Norway has a distinct advantage as an agriculturally marginal zone in Europe with great sensitivity to cultural and climatic changes. Landscape in crisis is a theme for the research team. MCH manage a considerable and ever-increasing archaeological material that can play a role in international, comparative and analytical studies. The theme will link to demography and settlement on the basis of variations between sites and their functions. In this context, the focus will not only be on farms, but also central places, ritual sites, human use of the landscape and the processes involved. We envisage a threefold approach with an emphasis on changes:
  • Demographic trends
  • Landscape organisation
  • Changes in settlements
In recent years, the Museum has studied a wide range of settlements from the Iron Age, including about 150 sites with 450 houses. These will constitute the core material for the research team. Over half of the material is from the low-lying rural districts of Eastern Norway, especially in Østfold, Vestfold and Akershus, whereas the valleys, forested and mountainous areas have accounted for fewer excavations in recent times. A key method for the team will be to systematise the collected data and use this in research in order to create a basis for management priorities. As part of this work, we therefore wish to develop an research programme for settlement archaeology. 
The following themes are relevant:
  • Farm and farmsteads. Structure and function of the buildings.
  • Production processes on the farm
  • Better understanding of the differences between sites (central places, market places, ritual sites, farms)
  • Landscape analysis and GIS
  • Field methodology and science
The team members are already involved in various projects such as: the Tinghaug Project of the Archaeological Museum, Stavanger, a doctoral project on settlement in Eastern Norway in the Iron Age, the Gokstad Project and the Avaldsnes Project. Publications: the Gudbrandsdalen E6 Project, Take it Personally, the Excavation Series of the Museum of Cultural History (formerly Varia). The research team has a good international network in settlement archeology, including the Ruralia network. This is also linked to the Agricultural History Network and the Research Council of Norway programme Forskning i Fellesskap.
Tags: Iron Age, Settlement Archaeology, Landscape Archaeology
Published Feb. 18, 2015 2:28 PM - Last modified Nov. 18, 2020 10:25 AM