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The Viking Age: People, Places, Things - ARC00027M

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Steve Ashby
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

This module provides an introduction to the archaeology of Viking-Age Europe, with a particular focus on material culture and what we can learn from it. Using case studies from across Britain, Ireland, northern Europe, and the North Atlantic, it uses this context to ask questions about how we write narrative from archaeological evidence.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

  • To provide students with a good understanding of the Viking world (and the people, places and things that made it up), with particular emphasis on Britain and northern Europe;

  • To introduce some of the key themes of Viking scholarship (e.g. identity, culture contact, travel, trade, urbanism, power, worldview);

  • To provide students with an overview of the various archaeological and interdisciplinary sources and methodologies that allow us to write narratives of the Viking Age;

  • To provide students with an opportunity to engage with some of the problems archaeologists face in applying these methods (e.g. chronology, definitions).

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • describe the chronology and political geography of Viking-Age Europe;

  • discuss the broad social and economic developments that transformed Northern Europe in the centuries around AD 1000;

  • appraise the diversity of sources used by scholars of this period;

  • critically analyse archaeological arguments based on diverse forms of evidence;

  • Present these arguments in verbal and written formats.

Module content

We will take a tour of the Viking world, but rather than simply describing what we know about Viking-Age life in these different contexts, we will spend time critically exploring the evidence and theories behind a number of key debates. What was the Viking Age? Why did it happen? And how was the experience different in different parts of the Viking world? The overall theme will be living in the Viking Age, explored through analysis of landscape, burial, buildings, and artefacts. Key issues covered will include everyday life, worldview and social organisation, travel and settlement, trade and urbanisation, and the construction of power.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3500 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback will be available within 6 weeks.

Indicative reading

Ashby, S.P. & Leonard, A.M. 2018. Pocket Museum: Vikings. London: Thames & Hudson.

Brink, S. & Price, N.S. 2008. The Viking World. London: Routledge.

Richards, J.D. 2005. Vikings: a Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.