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There have been two kinds of study of ancient beliefs in the earlier prehistory of Scandinavia. One considers the impact of ideas which originated further to the south and east. It considers a cosmology based on the movements of the sun.... more
There have been two kinds of study of ancient beliefs in the earlier prehistory of Scandinavia. One considers the impact of ideas which originated further to the south and east. It considers a
cosmology based on the movements of the sun. A second tradition develops out of the ethnography of the circumpolar region and combines archaeological evidence with the beliefs of hunter-gatherers. It postulates the existence of a three-tier cosmology in which people could communicate between
different worlds. This paper argues that certain elements that are thought to epitomize the ‘Southern’ system might have been suggested by existing ideas within Scandinavia itself. Both sets of beliefs came to influence one another, but they became increasingly distinct towards the end of the Bronze
Age. This paper reconsiders the rock carvings, metalwork and mortuary cairns of that period and the Iron Age in relation to the process of religious change.
Marine imagery comprises a large portion of the motifs currently found on Bronze Age rock art in Scandinavia. This imagery has often been discussed in terms of religion and cosmology. This paper departs from Alfred Gell’s work on art and... more
Marine imagery comprises a large portion of the motifs currently found on Bronze Age rock art in Scandinavia. This imagery has often been discussed in terms of religion and cosmology. This paper departs from Alfred Gell’s work on art and agency and asks: if rock art has agency, is it possible that this could also be used to affect elements of the environment? In certain regions of Scandinavia makers of rock art had an obsession with marine imagery which in some regions correlate with more extreme coastal change. This suggests that the connection between marine imagery and the shoreline may not be just cosmological but also associated with environmental change. Proposed cosmologies in the region involve elements of the environment, so environmental changes might have caused inhabitants to renegotiate their cosmological views. This paper looks at three examples that highlight this possible connection.
The Mesolithic through to the Bronze Age in Scandinavia was a period of erratic, sometimes extreme, environmental change. Prehistoric Scandinavians inhabited the coasts and experienced post-glacial isostatic, eustatic and climatic... more
The Mesolithic through to the Bronze Age in Scandinavia was a period of erratic, sometimes extreme, environmental change. Prehistoric Scandinavians inhabited the coasts and experienced post-glacial isostatic, eustatic and climatic fluctuations. We are now more capable of scientifically reconstructing these fluctuations, and these contemporary data have sparked a new interest in reviewing existing research within more informed environmental contexts. Archaeological examples from this region such as rock carvings and ornamented portable artefacts have often been discussed in terms of cosmology and religion, and many depict  elements of the environment. Environmental changes would have had an effect on how prehistoric Scandinavians perceived their surroundings and subsequently influenced their 'worldviews', social practices, rituals, and central to all of these their ‘art’. That research is the foundation of an exploration of the relationship between prehistoric Scandinavians and the critical changes in their environment, and its possible effects on the social action of the production and consumption of art. Understanding the complex ways in which humans are known to perceive their surroundings requires a methodology reaching beyond empirical studies and involving disciplines outside archaeology. This paper explores the development of such a methodology.
This poster was a part of the MESO2010 conference in Santander, Spain (see 'Talks'), and TAG 2010 in Bristol, UK.
Rock art in Scandinavia has engrossed a variety of individuals and organisations, from keen amateurs to professional archaeologists. But despite this diversity, Small-scale regional studies have dominated rock art research in Scandinavia,... more
Rock art in Scandinavia has engrossed a variety of individuals and organisations, from keen amateurs to professional archaeologists. But despite this diversity, Small-scale regional studies have dominated rock art research in Scandinavia, consisting of very few countrywide and virtually no Scandinavian-wide surveys. These regional studies provide extensive information for limited geographical areas but largely omit their more 'global' contexts. This project aims to remedy this omission. This thesis will draw an inclusive picture of rock art dated from the Mesolithic to the Bronze Age / Early Iron Age from Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Specifically, this study focuses on the repeated image of the ship in rock carvings and stone settings from this maritime region.

Ships and maritime motifs dominate the coastal rock art sites and appear on bronzes and in the form of stone geoglyphs or 'ship settings'. By incorporating an extensive geographical area over a lengthy chronological period, we can consider when the ship was used, where it appears or is absent, and what other archaeological features are (or are not) found with it. These patterns (or the lack thereof), may offer new insights on the ship's cultural importance, functions and meanings.

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