Before I wrap up the project, I want to address the really interesting theme of female names. I have been working on a paper about this since the beginning of the ArcNames project, but the subject just keeps growing. In later years, there has been much discussion about evidence for armed women in the Viking Age and whether burials of women with weapons reflect real life shield maidens. This has been an especially hot topic following a 2017 paper about a woman buried with weapons in Viking Age Birka (an overview of the discussion with further references can be found Continue reading Fierce females – names of Iron and Viking Age women
In an earlier post, I wrote about the fascination of the wolf in the Iron and Viking Ages and how this comes through in names. The tradition of combining wolf-elements with battle related words in personal names date back far earlier than the Late Iron and Viking Age. One compound name in particular is found in several examples over a long period of time in many parts of the Germanic speaking areas. And I thought I would share this little curiosity here. First, on the three 7th c. Blekinge stones discussed in the first post on wolves, one of the Continue reading Hariwulfaz/Hariulf/Hærulf – a trendy name in the 5th-11th centuries
Name use in the Netflix series and in early Germanic tribes The 2020 Netflix series Barbaren or Barbarians, retells the famous story of Arminius, a Roman-raised Germanic prince, who led a conglomerate of Germanic tribes to victory over three Roman legions in the Teutoburg forest in the year 9 AD. A historical turning point and a fascinating chain of events which we know about from several Roman sources. In recent decades, archaeological evidence has even emerged in Northern Germany that could be related to the battle. I generally really enjoyed the Barbarians very much and found that the creators had Continue reading Names of The Barbarians
Iron Age naming behavior and warrior identity Scandinavian Iron and Viking Age people had a strong fascination of the wolf and seem to great extend to have identified themselves with this animal. Wolf symbolism played a key part in the world perception.This can be concluded from both mythology, artwork and naming behavior, together stretching over a very long period. Already in the 3rd c. AD, we find a name, Widuhundaz on an elaborate silver brooch from Himlingøje, Zealand. This name is a compound of the words ‘wood/forest’ and ‘dog’ and are thought to refer to the wolf. The brooch was Continue reading Wolves of war
Human-object relations reflected in personal names Being an archaeologist, a thing that interests me about Scandinavian Iron and Viking Age personal names is the common use of words for objects. A survey through the material has shown that almost all objects represented are weapons or in other ways related to battle. This reflects how the Iron Age society was built around a warrior ideology – especially the social groups who wrote their names in runes on objects and stones. In later years, archaeologists have been occupied with relationships between objects and humans and the capacity of certain objects to be Continue reading Weapons in names, names on and of weapons
The archaeologists’ view on Iron Age personal names The ArcNames project has given me the rare opportunity to delve deeply into the subject of the oldest Scandinavian personal names. It is a time consuming and difficult sea of information. As I reach its far corners, the wide arrays of themes and issues keep growing. Iron Age personal names touch upon ethnic affiliations, human-animal relations, gender and stereotypes, ideologies and social organisation, religion and mythology. We may not be able to find out or distinguish between different motivations behind name giving. They were probably multiple and I am not sure whether Continue reading What’s in a name?
A short introduction to personal names in the Scandinavian Iron Age Names, qualities and characteristics When we get to know someone, one of the first things we learn about them is usually their name. As an archaeologist, you can get very close to prehistoric people. You excavate the remains of a house, to which the door once opened and closed several times a day, letting people walk in and out and through the rooms. We hold in our hands their personal objects such as tools and ornaments that are worn from long continued use. We even deal with remains of Continue reading An anonymous past?
The modern Scandinavian name Erik or Eirik seems to have become a common personal name in the Late Viking Age or Early Medieval period in Scandinavia. We often find it as a name of medieval Swedish, Norwegian and Danish kings. Yet, it also occurs in runic inscriptions and in place names ending in –toft and –torp. The dating of these place name types to the Late Viking Age and Medieval Period indicates that Erik/Eirik was in general use at least from the late Viking Period and onwards. At an earlier stage however, Erik/Eirik was probably not a name at all, Continue reading A name fit for a king