HomeResearchCulturalInstitute for Northern StudiesPublic events and seminars › ‘Viking warrior women? Reassessing Birka chamber grave Bj.581 and its implications’ with Prof Neil Price

‘Viking warrior women? Reassessing Birka chamber grave Bj.581 and its implications’ with Prof Neil Price

This lecture presents the results of a recent research project in central Sweden, showing that the body in an 'archetypal' high-status warrior grave - always assumed to be male since its excavation in 1878 - was in fact biologically female. The publication of these findings received widespread media attention and also attracted controversy, which will be addressed in detail here together with the implications of the burial.

When Dec 11, 2017 to Dec 11, 2017
from 7.30pm
Where Restaurant, Orkney College, East Road, Kirkwall
Contact Name
Contact Phone 01856 569300
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The warrior woman or 'shield maiden' has long been part of the Viking image, with a pedigree that extends from the Valkyries of Old Norse prose and poetry, through Wagner's operatic Romanticism to today's media entertainment. However, until recently the actual Viking-Age evidence for female fighters, real or mythical, has been sparse. This lecture presents the results of a recent research project in central Sweden, showing that the body in an 'archetypal' high-status warrior grave - always assumed to be male since its excavation in 1878 - was in fact biologically female. The publication of these findings received widespread media attention and also attracted controversy, which will be addressed in detail here together with the implications of the burial.

Neil Price is Distinguished Professor of Archaeology at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, and a Visiting Professor of Nordic Studies at UHI. A leading specialist in the Viking Age and the pre-Christian religions of the North, with additional interests in the historical archaeology of the Indo-Pacific region, his researches have taken him to more than 40 countries. For the next ten years he is directing one of Sweden's largest archaeological research projects, The Viking Phenomenon, leading an international team to explore the origins of this critical period in world history.