In the Darkest of Days: Re-investigating Human Sacrifice and Value in Southern Scandinavian Prehistory [Paperback]

Matthew J. Walsh (Editor); Sean O'Neill (Editor); Lasse Sørensen (Editor)

Regular Price: £38.00

Special Price: £30.40

ISBN: 9781789258592 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Publication: October 2023 | Language: English 208p, H280 x W216 (mm) B/w and colour
Status: Not yet published - advance orders taken

In the Darkest of Days


This book collects recent works on the subjects of sacrificial offerings, ritualised violence and the relative values thereof in the contexts of Scandinavian prehistory from the Neolithic to the Viking era. It provides a detailed re-appraisal of key aspects of prehistoric bog bodies using the latest forensic and material culture analytical techniques to examine questions of sacrifice, execution and ritual behaviour.

The volume re-opens investigations into notions of value relating to diverse evidence and suggested evidence for human sacrifice and related ritualised violence. It covers a broad spectrum of issues relating to novel interpretations of the existing archaeological materials, but with a focus on the study of value and value dynamics in these diverse ritual contexts, engaging in questions of identity, cosmology, economics and social relations. Cases span from the Scandinavian Late Neolithic and Nordic Bronze Age, through to the well-known wetland deposits and bog bodies of the Iron Age, to Viking era executions, ‘deviant’ burials and contemporaneous double/multiple graves, exploring the implications for the transformation of sacrificial practices across Scandinavian prehistory.

Each contributor untangles the myriad forms of value at play in different incarnations of human offerings, and provide insights into how those values were expressed, for example in the selection and treatment of victims in relation to their status, personhood, identity and life-history.

The volume builds on a workshop hosted at the National Museum of Denmark in 2018 which inaugurated the beginning of the research project ‘Human Sacrifice and Value: The limits of sacred violence’ and was supported by the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo. It brings together research and perspectives that go beyond the who, what and where of most archaeological and anthropological investigations of sacrificial violence to address both the underlying and explicit forms of value associated with such events.

Table of Contents

Rane Willerslev
Introduction. A view to a kill: Tracing human sacrifice through Scandinavian prehistory
Matthew J. Walsh, Sean O'Neill and Lasse Sørensen
1. Sacrifice in the Danish Neolithic
Lasse Sørensen and Paul Otto Nielsen, National Museum of Denmark
2. Attendant sacrifices in the early Nordic Bronze Age?
Matthew J. Walsh and Samantha S. Reiter, National Museum of Denmark
3. Bog bodies, rituals, sacrifice and value
Mads Ravn, Vejle Museum
4. The bog bodies of Denmark: Sacrifice or execution? A forensic medical and archaeological perspective on the Danish bog bodies
Niels Lunnerup and Pauline Asingh, University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University
5. Naked or clothed? Iron Age bog bodies and the value of clothing
Ulla Mannering, National Museum of Denmark
6. Six human skulls in a bog: Svennum – a first century AD sacrificial bog
Sidsel Wåhlin, Vendsyssel Historiske Museum
7. Swedish wetland deposits
Christina Fredengren, Stockholm University
8. Wetland deposits in Norway
Merete Moe Henriksen, NTNU University Museum
9. Thrown stone for flesh and bone? 'White' stones in sacrificial context in Iron Age Scandinavia
Matthew J. Walsh, Marianne Moen and Pernille Pantmann, KHM, Uio, Museum Nordsjælland
10. Human sacrifices and human remains – the ultimate offerings?
Pernille Pantmann, Museum Nordsjælland
11. A ceremonial centre for human sacrifice at Kaupang? Contemporaneous multiple burials correlate with increasing ritual charge
Sean O'Neill, KHM, UiO
12. Human Sacrifice in Old Norse Skaldic Poetry
Klas Wikström af Edholm, Stockholm University
13. Viking Age ritual killings: Sacrifice and similar
Bo Jensen, Copenhagen University
14. Regulated deviancy – ritual executions at Viking Age Tissø as indications of a complex judicial culture
Mads Dengsø Jessen and Jesper Olsen, National Museum of Denmark

Product Tags

Use spaces to separate tags. Use single quotes (') for phrases.

Memory usage: real: 23855104, emalloc: 23588832
Code ProfilerTimeCntEmallocRealMem