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The University of Southampton
Lifelong Learning

The Archaeology of Viking-Age Seafaring

The Viking Age was ignited by the art of building seaworthy sailing ships and the skills to sail them on the open sea. Water transport became of vital importance to society and their remains constitute a key primary source for maritime archaeology. Through the study of the Viking-Age ship, a whole spectrum of maritime aspects of society are explored such as craftsmanship, identity, gender, communities of practice, etc.

Viking-Age Seafaring

This module will introduce you to the evidence base and the key theoretical and technical concepts used in maritime archaeology to study the maritime aspects of Viking Age Scandinavia. Using the example of Viking-Age maritime societies, you will develop knowledge of archaeological methods, theory and materials.

Case studies, demonstrations, digital resources and an expert-seminar will all be used to contextualise the knowledge gained throughout the course and broaden the student’s archaeological experience. By the end of the module, you will be familiar with the scope, potential and resource base of maritime archaeology. More specifically, you will have gained substantial knowledge and insight in the maritime aspects of Viking Age Scandinavia, especially in the workings of seafaring during this period.

The module will typically include the following topics:
- Introduction and the world in the Viking Age; providing you with the necessary context to situate the Viking Age within contemporary global developments.

- Maritime archaeology of the Viking Age: sources and methods; giving you insight into the sources on which reconstructions of Viking Age maritime life are based and how archaeologists go about to study them.

- The world of the Vikings: social structure, living conditions and contacts with other cultures; discussing the social hierarchy in Viking Age society, how the Vikings lived in their home territories and how they interacted with the foreign cultures they encountered on their voyages.

- Viking-Age vessels: construction and life on board; detailing how different forms of water transport were built and how people spent their days on board a Viking Age ship.

- Experimental Archaeology and Ethnographic Research; providing insight how the study of traditional boatbuilding in Western Norway and the reconstruction of full-scale Viking ships informs us about shipbuilding in the past.

- Sailing and Navigating Viking-Age Ships; you will learn what it took to ‘safely’ sail and navigate a Viking Age vessel across open waters.

- Viking-Age Scandinavia as a Maritime Culture; discussing how seafaring impacted almost all aspects of Viking Age society.

- The End of the Viking Age and Topic of Choice; detailing how archaeologists and historians define the end of the Viking Age and providing you with the opportunity to have a more in-depth discussion on a topic of choice.


Date: Tuesday 6 October
Time: 19.00-21.00
Duration: 8 weeks


£130 (£120 for university staff/students)


Booking is completed through the Online Store, please click here to book your place.

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