Aristokrater, kvinner, kunnskap og makt – Vik fra romertid til vikingtid

  • Liv Helga Dommasnes Universitetsmuseet i Bergen


Aristocrats, women, knowledge and power – Vik from the Roman Age to the Viking Age

This paper is inspired by local interest in the relationship between the two farms Hove and Hopperstad in the settlement of Vik on the Sognefjord in Western Norway, from ca. 200 AD through the Viking Age. Large burial monuments at the Hove farm indicate that this was the chieftain´s farm in the early Iron Age, while only a few scattered remains of Viking Age burials are known.

At Hopperstad the situation is different. Nine burials from the late Iron Age are known from the farm. Six out of the nine are women´s burials, most of them richly equipped, indicating that the women in question may have held important positions in the local community as well as a wide net of contacts in the upper strata of society. During the Viking Age, Hopperstad seems to have acquired a level of importance equal to that of Hove, perhaps even higher. The unusual ratio of female vs male burials seems to indicate that women were in charge of the Hopperstad farm during this process.

The main part of the paper is dedicated to a discussion of the mechanisms behind such an extraordinary social and economic advancement/success of the Hopperstad community under feminine leadership in a society where masculine dominance was the (almost) unquestioned norm. Potential factors addressed are the Norse code of honour, gender roles, and power.

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