Crafts and Social Networks in Viking Towns [Paperback]

Steven P. Ashby (Editor); Søren M. Sindbaek (Editor)

ISBN: 9781789251609 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2019 | Language: English 288p, H240 x W170 (mm) b/w and colour

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Crafts and Social Networks in Viking Towns


Crafts and Social Networks in Viking Towns explores the interface between craft, communication networks, and urbanisation in Viking-Age northern Europe. Viking-period towns were the hubs of cross-cultural communication of their age, and innovations in specialised crafts provide archaeologists with some of the best evidence for studying this communication. The integrated results presented in these papers have been made possible through the sustained collaboration of a group of experts with complementary insights into individual crafts. Results emerge from recent scholarly advances in the study of artefacts and production: first, the application of new analytical techniques (e.g. metallographic, isotopic, and biomolecular techniques) and second, the shift in interpretative focus from a concern with object function to considerations of processes of production, and of the social agency of technology. Furthermore, the introduction of social network theory and actor-network theory has redirected attention toward the process of communication, and highlighted the significance of material culture in the learning and transmission of cultural knowledge, including technology.

The volume brings together leading UK and Scandinavian archaeological specialists to explore crafted products and workshop-assemblages from Viking towns, in order to clarify how such long-range communication worked in pre-modern northern Europe. Contributors assess the implications for our understanding of early towns and the long-term societal change catalysed by them, including the initial steps towards commercial economies. Results are analysed in relation to social network theory, social and economic history, and models of communication, setting an agenda for further research. The volume provides a landmark statement on our knowledge of Viking-Age craft and communication.

Table of Contents

1. Crafting the urban network
Steven P. Ashby and Søren M. Sindbæk
2. Craft: some pragmatic notes on the study of craft production and
craftspeople in early medieval northern Europe
Johan Callmer
3. Between domestic circles and urban networks
Steven P. Ashby and Søren M. Sindbæk
4. The emergence of professional pottery production: York, a case study
Ailsa Mainman
5. Textile networks in Viking-Age towns of Britain and Ireland
Penelope Walton Rogers
6. Constructing specialism
Steven P. Ashby and Søren M. Sindbæk
7. Combmaking in southern and eastern Scandinavia and the
Baltic region (c. AD 700–900)
Johan Callmer
8. A history of combmaking: biographies of innovation in Britain,
Ireland and Scandinavia
Steven P. Ashby
9. The archaeology of blacksmithing and the rise of urbanism in
England and northern Europe c. 700–1100
Patrick Ottaway
10. Collaboration and expert knowledge
Steven P. Ashby and Søren M. Sindbæk
11. From bronze-casting to non-ferrous metalworking: complexity,
choices and cooperation in urban Scandinavian Viking-Age workshops
Unn Pedersen
12. Non-ferrous metalworking networks in Scandinavian-influenced
towns of Britain and Ireland
Penelope Walton Rogers
List of contributors

Reviews & Quotes

"…highly relevant to anyone interested in the Viking Age, not just artefact and craft specialists. It sets out the basic research and chronologies, contains a wealth of new data, and importantly places these new results into the wider context of networks, thus adding individuals to the discussion. It's a book I will certainly return to."
Alexandra Sanmark
Medieval Archaeology (04/08/2021)

"The volume uses thoroughly researched studies of material evidence, underpinned by social network theory, to construct a compelling argument for the interdependence of craft, communication networks and urbanisation in Viking Age Northern Europe."
Claire Nesbitt
Antiquity (10/06/2020)

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