Dr Alexandra Sanmark, MA, FSA, FSA Scot, FRHist
Reader in Medieval Archaeology, Associate Professor of Archaeology at Uppsala University
Institute for Northern Studies
Perth College UHI
Crieff Road, Perth
- Academic Responsibilities
- External responsibilities and memberships
- Invited talks and conferences
- PhD Students
Dr Alexandra Sanmark undertook her undergraduate and postgraduate training at the University of London and obtained her PhD on the Christianisation of Scandinavia from University College London. She was then employed in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Uppsala, where she was Programme Leader for the MA programme Viking and Early Medieval Scandinavia. After two years as Research Fellow at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, she started working for the University in 2009, first in Orkney and currently in Perth.
Dr Sanmark has a strong research interest in Iron Age Scandinavia, in particular the Viking Age and the Viking Expansion in the west. Since her PhD she has been fascinated by Viking Age religion and the Christianisation of northwest Europe. Her interests also include assembly and political practice and she has collaborated on The Assembly Project (TAP), a three-year international project funded by the Humanities in Europe Research Area (HERA). TAP examined multidisciplinary evidence for the emergence of assembly sites and administrative frameworks across Northern Europe from AD 400-1500. Dr Sanmark’s research strand was entitled Assembly and Colonisation and explores the establishment of the Norse thing organisation and assembly sites in the areas of Norse settlement and colonisation, compared and contrasted to the situation in the Viking homelands. This work resulted in the book Viking Law and Order. Places and Rituals of Assembly in the Medieval North: more details (Edinburgh University Press, 2017).
In 2015, Dr Sanmark led The Orkney and Shetland Digital Heritage Project. This was a community based cultural heritage project, through which stories connected to the Orkney and Shetland landscape was captured using digital technology.
Building on her interest in the island nations of Pacific Ocean developed during her PhD, Dr Sanmark, together with Prof. Donna Heddle, is working on a project on sustainable tourism in Vanuatu. As part of the first year’s work, existing cultural heritage sites were evaluated and future strategies suggested.
Since 2017, Dr Sanmark has developed further fieldwork-based projects. The first one involves further excavations of Anundshög in Sweden, where several seasons of excavations have been carried out. In 2017-18, a late medieval ‘assembly cottage’ was excavated, which is the earliest such building found archaeologically. The second project involves a geophysical survey and core sampling in the West Mainland of Orkney with the aim of examining possible traits of Viking-Age and Late Norse waterways.
Dr Sanmark is the initiator and Series Editor for the new book series The North Atlantic World - Land and Sea as Cultural Space – AD 400-1900, published with Brepols. This is an interdisciplinary series that covers a wide geographical region stretching from Northern Europe and Scandinavia across to the Eastern seaboards of Canada and the United States of America, from the Late Iron Age up to the early modern period.
Select projects (past and current)
2018-19: Waterways in the West Mainland of Orkney: A Pilot Study. Funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant. Principal Investigator: Alex Sanmark. Co-Investigators: Prof. Barbara Crawford and Dr Richard Bates.
2017-: From Papay to Polynesia: a study of tourism in small islands ((link to the Vanuatu section on the research page). Co-Investigators: Prof. Donna Heddle and Dr Alexandra Sanmark. Funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund.
2016-: Focus on the assembly site of Anundshög in Sweden. Fieldwork based research project.
2010-2013: The Assembly Project (TAP) – Meeting-places in Northern Europe AD 400-1500
2005-2008: Assembly Sites, Power and Landscape
2004-2005: Thing sites in the Landscape
Head of PhD Studies
Programme Leader for the MRes in Northern Studies
Module Leader for the following MLitt level courses
- Gender in Viking Society
- The Vikings in Scotland and the Irish Sea Region
- MLitt Dissertation
- Research Degrees Committee
- Graduate School Committee
- 2018: Fellow of the UKRI Peer Review College
- 2018-2021: Member of the Council for the Society of Medieval Archaeology
- 2018-: Series Editor for The North Atlantic World - Land and Sea as Cultural Space – AD 400-1900 (link to Brepols on INS publications page) (Brepols)
- 2018-2021: Member of the Council for the Society of Medieval Archaeology
- 2017: Member of the Advisory Board for the Uppåkra Archaeological Centre (Sweden)
- 2014-2016: Member of The Royal Scone Network, funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
- 2012–2016: Member of the advisory board for the Gamla Uppsala Excavations
- 2010-2013: Member of Medieval Gender History, a Nordic research network based at the Universities of Stockholm and Helsinki
- 2012-2013: Member of Medieval Rituals in Focus, a research network based at the University of Gothenburg (Göteborg)
- 2010-2012: Member of The Hjaltland Research Network: Mapping Viking Age Shetland. Funded by The Royal Society of Edinburgh
- 2010-: Peer reviewer for the European Science Foundation (ESF)
- 2007-: Member of the editorial board for the Journal of the North Atlantic
Other external activities
- Fellow of The Royal Historical Society
- Fellow of The Society of Antiquaries of London
- Fellow of The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
- Member of The Viking Society for Northern Research
- Member of The Society for Medieval Archaeology
- Member of The Royal Archaeological Institute
- Member of the Society for Scottish Medieval and Renaissance Studies
- Peer-reviewer for a variety of publishers and journals, such as Antiquity World Archaeology, The Journal of European Archaeology, Internationales Sachsensymposion, Early Medieval Europe, Antiquity and Oxford University Press.
- Examiner of PhD and MRes theses and the Universities of Durham and Glasgow.
What is North? Visualising, Representing and Imagining the North from the Viking Age to Modern Times. The North Atlantic World Series, vol 1. Brepols (in prep).
Viking Law and Order, Places and Rituals of Assembly in the Medieval North. (Edinburgh University Press, 2017).
Negotiating The North: Meeting Places in The Middle Ages in The North Sea Zone. Final project monograph by The Assembly Project. Co-authors: A. Sanmark, F. Iversen, M. Mehler and S. Semple. The Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph Series (Taylor and Francis, in press).
Debating the Thing in the North II, Selected Papers from Workshops Organized by The Assembly Project, Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume. Lead editor: Alexandra Sanmark (in press).
Debating the Thing in the North I, Selected Papers from Workshops Organized by The Assembly Project, Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 5. Lead editor: Alexandra Sanmark (2013).
Across the Sólundarhaf: Connections between Scotland and the Nordic World.
Selected Papers from the Inaugural St. Magnus Conference 2011, Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 4, ed. Andrew Jennings and Alexandra Sanmark (2013).
Signals of Belief in Early England: Anglo-Saxon Paganism Revisited ed. Martin Carver, Alex Sanmark and Sarah Semple (Oxbow 2010)
Power and Conversion. A Comparative Study of Christianization in Scandinavia, (OPIA, Uppsala 2004)
Select journal papers
‘A New Methodology for Assembly Site Identification and Analysis’, Retrospective Methods Networks Newsletter (in press)
‘Patterns of Assembly. Norse Thing Sites in Shetland,’ Debating the Thing in the North I, Selected Papers from Workshops Organized by The Assembly Project, Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 5. Lead editor: Alexandra Sanmark (2013).
‘Assembly in North West Europe: collective concerns for early societies?’ Co-author: Dr Sarah Semple, European Journal of Archaeology 16:3 (2013).
‘The Case of the Greenlandic Assembly Sites’, Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 2 (2009-10), 178-192.
‘Living on: ancestors and the soul’, Signals of Belief in Early England: Anglo-Saxon Paganism Revisited, ed, M. Carver, A. Sanmark and S. Semple (Oxbow 2010), 162-84
‘Assembly Organisation and State Formation. A Case Study of Assembly Sites in Viking and Medieval Södermanland, Sweden’, Medieval Archaeology 53 (2009), 205-41
‘Places of Assembly: Recent results from Sweden and England’. Co-author: Dr Sarah Semple, Dept. of Archaeology, University of Durham, Fornvännen 103, 4:2008
‘The communal nature of the judicial system in early medieval Norway’, Collegium Medievale 19 (2006), 31-64
‘Dietary regulation in early Christian Norway’, Viking and Medieval Scandinavia, vol. 1 (2005), 203-19
Book chapters, reports, short books and popular articles
‘The thing cottage at Anundshög’, A. Sanmark, K. Jonsson, M. Lindeberg and M. Bäck (in press)
‘Legal Space in Late Iron Age and Early Medieval Scandinavia’, Legal Space, Max-Planck- Institut für Europäishe Rechtsgeschichte (in press)
Tingsplatsen vid Anundshög. Medeltida tingsstuga och järnålderslämningar i Badelunda. Arkeologisk forskningsundersökning. Fornlämning Västerås 431:1. Långby 7:3. Badelunda socken. Västerås stad. Västmanlands län. Västmanland. Mathias Bäck, Kristina Jonsson, Marta Lindeberg och Alexandra Sanmark (pdf)
‘An exploration of thing sites in the Islands on the Scottish West Coast’, Traversing the Inner Seas, Scottish Society for Northern Studies Publication (2016)
’The Orkney Huseby Farms − The Onomastic, Historical and Archaeological Context’. B. Crawford and A. Sanmark, Proceedings of the Huseby workshop, Copenhagen March 2014. Eds. T. Lemm and A. Pedersen (2016), 91-106
‘At the Assembly: A Study of Ritual Space’, Power of Practice. Rituals and Politics in Northern Europe c. 650-1350, eds. L. Hermansson and H. J. Orning, Brepols. (2015)
‘Makt och monument under järnåldern. Föredrag och paneldiskussion den 17/10 2014 på Västmanlands läns museum’ [’Power and Monuments of the Iron Age’]. Sanmark, A, Björk, T., Wickberg Y., and Wikborg, J. Badelundabygdens hembygdsförening, 2015, no 1, 2-3
‘Women at the Thing’, Kvinner i vikingtid [Nordic Women in the Viking Age], eds. N. Coleman and N. L. Løkka, Scandinavian Academic Press (2014), 85-100.
‘Christianity, Survival and Re-Emergence’, Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology (2014).
Arkeologin kan berätta mer om de nordiska tingsplatserna. Co-author: Sarah Semple. Populär Arkeologi 4:2013
‘Archaeology’, The Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Nordic Culture (in press), 1 March 2012
‘Kirkwall – from Norse Thing Site to Council Seat’, The Orcadian, 5 April 2012
‘Archaeological Analysis and Mapping in the Identification of Assembly Sites. Comments on Inger Storli: Court Sites of Arctic Norway: Remains of Thing Sites and Representations of Political Consolidation Processes in the Northern Germanic World during the First Millennium AD?’: 89-117, Norwegian Archaeological Review 43(2)’, Norwegian Archaeological Review 44(1) 2011.
Tingsplatsen som arkeologiskt problem, Etapp 3: Anundshög [Exvavation report from Anundshög, Sweden]. Co-author Sarah Semple. The Assembly Project, Report 3.
The Topography of Outdoor Assembly in Europe with Reference to Recent Field Research
‘The Assembly Site at Anundshög, Sweden’, Populär Arkeologi 4:2008
The Vikings. Raiders and Traders. (Stockholm 2008).
‘Tingsplatser i det vikingatida och medeltida Sverige’ [Assembly sites in Viking and Medieval Sweden], Populär Arkeologi 2:2008
’Tingsplatser, makt och landskap’ [Assembly sites, Power and Landscape]. Co-author: Dr Svante Norr, Hem till Jarlabanke: jord, makt och evigt liv i östra Mälardalen under järnålder och medeltid, ed. M. Olausson. (Lund: Historiska media, 2008), 379-396
‘The regulation of daily life in early Christian Norway’, Rettstekstar i mellomalderen – Idé og praksis. Rettshistoriske studier nr 17, Institutt for offentlig retts skriftserie nr 6/2006, ed. Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde (Oslo 2006), 1-37
‘The Princess in the Tower - the ill-fated marriage of Ingeborg of Denmark and Philip Augustus of France’, History Today, vol. 56 (2006), 10-16
‘Fast and Feast - Christianization through the Regulation of Everyday Life’, Viking Heritage Magazine 4/2005, 3-7
‘The Cross and the Sword - Strategies of Conversion in Medieval Europe’, Viking Heritage Magazine 3/2005, 9-13
‘Life according to God’, Populär Arkeologi 1:2005
Tingsplatsen som arkeologiskt problem. Etapp 1: Aspa. SAU Rapport 2004:25 (Uppsala)
‘The role of secular rulers in the conversion of Sweden’, The Cross goes North. Processes of conversion in Northern Europe AD 300–1300 (York 2002), 551–8
‘The Nature of Scandinavian Pre-Christian Religious Custom’, Offa 58 (2001), 237–47
‘Lavelle, Ryan, and Simon Roffey, eds., Danes in Wessex: The Scandinavian Impact on Southern England, c. 800–c. 1100. Oxford and Philadelphia: Oxbow Books, 2016. Paper. Pp. xvi, 272; 66 black-and-white and color figures and 20 tables. £45. ISBN: 978-1-78297-931-9, Speculum (in press)
‘Imsen, Steinar, ed., Rex Insularum: The King of Norway and His "Skattlands" as a Political System c. 1260–1450. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget, 2014. Pp. 438; many color figures and 39 maps. NOK 599. ISBN: 978-82-321-0414-7’, Speculum 91:3 (2016)
‘Nordeide, Sæbjørg Walaker, The Viking Age as a Period of Religious Transformation: The Christianisation of Norway from AD 560-1150/1200. (Studies in Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 2.) Turnhout: Brepols, 2012. Pp. xx, 396; 84 b&w figs. and 14 tables. 110. ISBN: 9782503534800, Speculum 88:4 (2013).
‘Muldoon, J. (ed.). The North Atlantic Frontier of Medieval Europe: Vikings and Celts. The Expansion of Latin Europe, 1000-1500. Ashgate: Variorum, 2012’, Scottish Society for Northern Studies (SSNS) (2013).
‘The Conversion of Scandinavia: Vikings, Merchants, and Missionaries in the Remaking of Northern Europe. By Anders Winroth. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. 2011. Pp. vii-xi, 238. 22 b/w illus. ISBN 9780300170269’, Catholic Historical Review XCIX, no. 1, (January 2013), 115-16
‘Winroth, A. ‘The Conversion of Scandinavia: Vikings, Merchants, and Missionaries in the Remaking of Northern Europe’, Fornvännen (2012/4), 299-300.
‘Higham, Nicholas J. and Martin J. Ryan. Landscape Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England. Publications of the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2010. Pp. 231. $99. ISBN 9781843835820’, The Medieval Review 2011 (11.09.05:
’Fendin, T. Döden som straff. Glömda gravar på Galgbacken’, Fornvännen 2009:3
‘Monuments and Minds. Monument Re-use in Scandinavia in the Second Half of the First Millennium AD. (Acta Archaeologica Lundensia Series in 4o No. 27). By Eva S. Thäte. 22 x 30 cm. xiii + 338 pp., 35 b&w figs. and graphs, 15 tables. Lund: Wallin & Dalholm, 2007. ISBN 91-89578-04-X (ISSN 0065-1001). Price: £ 45.00 hb’, Medieval Archaeology 53 (2009)
‘The Significant Detail. Europeanization at the Base of Society: The Case of the Baltic Rim 1100-1400 AD. (CCC Papers: 9). Edited by Nils Blomkvist & Therese Lindström. 22 x 30 cm. 319 pp., 110 colour and b&w pls. and figs., 9 tables. Visby: Gotland University, 2007. ISBN 91-973653-2-7 (ISSN 1404-0573). Price: 350 SEK hb’, Medieval Archaeology 53 (2009)
‘Ritdómur. Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir, The Awakening of Christianity in Iceland. Discovery of a Timber Church and Graveyard at Þórarinsstaðir in Seyðisfjörður. GOTARC. Gothenburg Archaeological Thesis Series B No. 31, 2004’. Árbók Hins íslenzka fornleifafélags 2004-2005 (2007), 193-7
‘Kristjánsdóttir, S. The Awakening of Christianity in Iceland. Discovery of a Timber Church and Graveyard at Þórarinsstaðir in Seyðisfjörður’, Fornvännen 3:2006, 209-11
Selected Talks and Conferences
Selected Talks and Conferences
March 2018: ‘Strong-willed or passive?’, The depiction of Viking Age women in recent research, Viking Women Seminar Social, Cultural and Political Roles of Women In Medieval North, University of Silesia, Faculty of Social Sciences, Katowice, Poland
October 2017: ‘Thing Sites in Scotland: Brochs and other Mounds’, Brochtoberfest, Thurso, Caithness Horizons Museum
September 2017: Women at Viking-age assemblies’, One day conference held at Inverness Museum in conjunction with the travelling Viking exhibition.
August 2017: Invited speaker to The Viking Congress, Denmark.
November 2016: Member of discussion panel for the showing of ‘Pathfinder’ at the Being Human Event in Stromness, Orkney.
September 2016: ‘Royal ritual circuits in Scandinvia’, ‘Åkerseminaret 2016’. Conference on royal places, held in Hamar, Norway. Co-organised by the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo and Disen Kolonial, Hamar.
September 2015: ‘The Concept of Thing Peace’, Rechtsräume, Historisch-archäologische Annäherungen, Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte, Frankfurt am Main
December 2014: At the Assembly – the creation of ritual space, Royal Scone Conference, Perth.
October 2014: The excavations of Anundshög, Makt och Monument [Power and Monuments], Västerås, Sweden.
August 2014: Norse assemblies – an exclusively male sphere?, The Annual Hakon Hakonson Lecture, Largs Viking Festival.
April 2014: Norse Assembly Sites in Scotland – Places of Power and Negotiation?, Scottish Society for Northern Studies conference, Northern Ireland.
April 2014: Thing sites and settlement – Collective identity and memory making in a new landscape, National University of Ireland, Galway.
March 2014: Husaby farms in Orkney – their archaeological context. Huseby workshop organised by the by The National Museum of Denmark and the Museum of Schleswig.
September 2013: LiDAR scanning at Tingwall in Shetland, NERC/ARSF workshop at the University of Glasgow
September 2013: Viking Age Sites of Cult and Assembly – Law, Religion and Ritual, The Third Jelling Conference, The National Museum of Denmark.
September 2013: The Rituals of Assembly, Medieval Rituals in Focus. Aspects of Integration and Transformation 2, University of Oslo.
August 2013: ‘Norse Assemblies in a European Context’, The Viking Congress, Shetland.
April 2013: ‘Power and Jurisdiction. Gamla Uppsala According to Written Sources and Archaeology’, Ancient Centres, Special Economic Zones and Restart! New Aspects of Viking Age Urbanism, c. 750-1100 at The Swedish History Museum
October 2012: ‘Norse assemblies – an exclusively male sphere?’ Invited speaker at Women in the Viking Age - More than Mistresses of the Household?, Telemark University College, Norway.
May 2012: ‘Norse Assembly Sites in Context’, Inaugural Docent (Honorary Reader) lecture, Department of Archaeology, Uppsala University.
March 2012: ‘NorseAssembly Sites in Scotland’, Department of Archaeology, Uppsala University
February 2012: ‘Thing sites in Shetland’,THING project lecture series, Shetland.
March 2011: ‘Assembly and the Colonisation of Northern Britain’, Anglo-Saxon Places of Power, Governance and Authority, Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, Rewley House, Oxford.
May 2010: ‘The Assembly Project’, at the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, University of Western Australia
September 2009: ‘Is there a model assembly site? ‘, The first meeting of the Thing Project. Venue: Iceland
March 2009: ‘Places of Assembly - Recent Results from Viking Age and Medieval Sweden’, the Department of Archaeology, University of Western Australia and ‘Execution sites and boundaries in Scandinavia AD 400-1500’ at the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, University of Western Australia
September 2008: ’Assembly sites in Norway and Sweden’ at the Museum of Cultural History, Oslo.
June 2008: ‘Ancestor Cult in the Viking Religion’, University of Western Australia
May 2008: ‘Administrative organisation and state formation: A case study of assembly sites in Södermanland, Sweden’. Cambridge Medieval Archaeology Group.
November 2007: ‘The Viking Thing Organization seen from a European Perspective’, The Viking Identities Network, The University of Nottingham.
November 2007: ‘Thing Sites in Central Sweden’. The Medieval Archaeology Seminar, Institute of Archaeology, Oxford.
May 2006: ‘Thing Sites in Scandinavia’, Open lecture at the Gamla Uppsala Museum
January 2006:‘Thing Sites in Central Sweden during the Late Viking Age’, The Medieval Seminar, The Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge
‘Administrative Organisation in Early Christian Sweden’, The British Museum and UCL Early Medieval Seminar.
‘Idols in the Religion of the Norse’ at the Department of Archaeology, The University of Glasgow
‘Thing sites in Sweden’ at the Department of Archaeology, The University of Glasgow
November 2005: ‘Fast and Feast. Laws in Early Christian Norway’ at the Medieval Scandinavian Seminar, The Department of Scandinavian Studies, University College London
April 2005: ‘Ancestor cult in north-west Europe’, at Paganism and Popular Practice in Anglo- Saxon England, Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, Rewley House
October 2003: ‘The Christianisation of Norway – the evidence of the Provincial laws, at Nordisk mellomalderrett med eit europeiskt perspektiv at Rettshistorisk samling, University of Oslo
May 2000: ‘Popular response to the Introduction of Christianity in Scandinavia’, Department of Scandinavian Studies, University College London
April 2002: ‘The early church and the regulation of everyday life’, Mid Sweden University
October 2001: ‘Fast and feast in the early church’ at The Seminar for the Study of Early Scandinavian Society and Culture. Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University
Current PhD students
2017–: Director of Studies for Annie Thuesen, University of the Highlands and Islands. ESIF-funded studentship. Topic: The Sustainability of Orkney Tourism
2017–: Supervisor for Julie Cassidy, University of the Highlands and Islands. Highland Park-funded studentship. Topic: The History of Highland Park Distillery
2017–: Supervisor for Lynn Campbell, University of the Highlands and Islands. Topic: The Role of the Kirk in Orkney, 17th – 19th centuries
2016–: Director of Studies for Andrea Blendl, Institute for Northern Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands. ARCS-funded studentship. Topic: Runic Writing in the Viking Diaspora.
2009–: Second supervisor for Anna Gatti at The Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University. Topic: Sex and identity in the archaeological discourse
Previous PhD students
Shane McLeod, Department of History, University of Western Australia. Topic: The Activities of the Great Army in Anglo-Saxon England.
Tudor Skinner, Department of Archaeology, Durham University. Topic: Impact and Change: Early Medieval Assembly Places and Practices in Northern England before and during Danelaw. This post was part of the HERA-funded Assembly Project.
Suggested PhD topics
- Viking Age Religion
- Vikings in Scandinavia
- Law and Ritual
- Viking Expansion in the West
- The Norse legal system and cult
- Viking-age Britain