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  • Cited by 16
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
February 2019
Print publication year:
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Book description

In this book, Marianne Hem Eriksen explores the social organization of Viking Age Scandinavia through a study of domestic architecture, and in particular, the doorway. A highly charged architectural element, the door is not merely a practical, constructional solution. Doors control access, generate movement, and demark boundaries, yet also serve as potent ritual objects. For this study, Eriksen analyzes and interprets the archaeological data of house remains from Viking Age Norway, which are here synthesized for the first time. Using social approaches to architecture, she demonstrates how the domestic space of the Viking household, which could include masters and slaves, wives and mistresses, children and cattle, was not neutral. Quotidian and ritual interactions with, through, and orchestrated by doorways prove to be central to the production of a social world in the Viking Age. Eriksen's book challenges the male-dominated focus of research on the Vikings and expands research questions beyond topics of seaborne warriors, trade, and craft.


‘It is a fabulous piece of work, lucid, well documented, imaginative and beautifully organised. It will be of interest to scholars working on other periods or in other parts of the world.'

Richard Bradley - University of Reading

‘Doors can be entries and exits, metaphors, symbols, and more. This fascinating work gives us Vikings as we've never seen them - their ideas on death and life, their sense of home, their bodies and behavior, it's all here. Marianne Hem Eriksen is one of the leading innovators in Viking archaeology today, and this book is the proof.'

Neil Price - University of Uppsala

‘… thought provoking … offers an interesting and useful strategy for investigating the domestic, ritual and everyday life of late Iron-Age/Viking-Age people … also refreshing in its near exclusion of the stereotypical Viking warrior, instead putting women, children, animals, rituals and everyday chores into the limelight.’

Elise Kleivane Source: Medieval Archaeology

‘This is an interesting and important contribution to the literature not only on Viking-Age buildings, but also to the explicitly theorised study of everyday life in the period … The book deserves to become a point of reference and inspiration for years to come.’

Steve Ashby Source: Medieval Archaeology

‘This monograph is a valuable contribution to the scholarship on domestic life in the Viking Age …’

Teva Vidal Source: Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies

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