Home research cultural Centre for Nordic Studies Staff Dr Alexandra Sanmark, MA, PhD, FSA, FSA Scot, FRHist

Dr Alexandra Sanmark, MA, PhD, FSA, FSA Scot, FRHist

Reader in Medieval Archaeology, Associate Professor of Archaeology at Uppsala University

UHI Centre for Nordic Studies
Kiln Corner
KW15 1QX

e: alexandra.sanmark@uhi.ac.uk
d: +44 (0)1856 569301
Full research profile on the Research Database RD.jpg


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 Viking and Early Medieval Scandinavia. After two years as Research Fellow at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, she arrived in Orkney in 2009.

Research interests

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 she has recently collaborated on The Assembly Project (TAP), a three-year international project funded by the Humanities in Europe Research Area (HERA). TAP examines multidisciplinary evidence for the emergence of assembly sites and administrative frameworks across Northern Europe from AD 400-1500. Dr Sanmark’s research strand is 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.

Current project

The Assembly Project (TAP) – Meeting-places in Northern Europe AD 400-1500

Academic Responsibilities

Dr Sanmark is Module Leader for the following MLitt level courses :

  • Gender in Viking Society
  • The Vikings in the Scottish Islands and the Irish Sea Region
  • Dissertation

Committee memberships :

  • UHI's Research Degrees Committee
  • Orkney College Research Committee

External responsibilities and memberships

  • Member of The Royal Scone Network, funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
  • Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of History, University of Western Australia (May 2007 - May 2010)



Power and Conversion. A Comparative Study of Christianization in Scandinavia, (OPIA, Uppsala 2004) https://www.academia.edu/253270/Power_and_Conversion_a_Comparative_Study_of_Christianization_In_Scandinavia

Journal papers, academic:

‘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). http://www.ingentaconnect.com.eor.uhi.ac.uk/content/maney/eja/2013/00000016/00000003/art00007

‘The Case of the Greenlandic Assembly Sites’, Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 2 (2009-10), 178-192. https://www.academia.edu/388631/The_Case_of_the_Greenlandic_Assembly_Sites

‘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

‘The Topography of Outdoor Assembly in Europe with Reference to Recent Field Results from Sweden’, Co-author: Sarah Semple, Perspectives in Landscape Archaeology. Lewis, H. & Semple, S. J. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports. BAR International Series 2103 (2010): 107-119.

‘Assembly Organisation and State Formation. A Case Study of Assembly Sites in Viking and Medieval Södermanland, Sweden’, Medieval Archaeology 53 (2009), 205-41

‘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

Other articles, reports and short books:

‘Christianity, Survival and Re-Emergence’, Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology (2014). http://www.springer.com/social+sciences/anthropology+%26+archaeology/book/978-1-4419-0426-3

Arkeologin kan berätta mer om de nordiska tingsplatserna. Co-author: Sarah Semple. Populär Arkeologi 4:2013 https://www.academia.edu/8110238/Arkeologin_kan_beratta_mer_om_de_nordiska_tingsplatserna._Co-author_Sarah_Semple._Popular_Arkeologi_4_2013

‘Archaeology’, The Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Nordic Culture (in print).

’Althing and Lawthing in Orkney’, The Orcadian, 1 March 2012

‘Kirkwall – from Norse Thing Site to Council Seat’, The Orcadian, 5 April 2012 www.uhi.ac.uk/en/research-enterprise/cultural/centre-for-nordic-studies/mimirs-well-articles/kirkwall-2013-from-norse-thing-site-to-council-seat

‘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. https://www.academia.edu/1120567/Tingsplatsen_som_arkeologiskt_problem_Anundshog

‘The Assembly Site at Anundshög, Sweden’, Populär Arkeologi 4:2008 https://www.academia.edu/8110337/Tingsplatser_i_det_vikingatida_och_medeltida_Sverige_Assembly_sites_in_Viking_and_Medieval_Sweden_Co-author_Sarah_Semple_Popular_Arkeologi_2_2008

‘Places of Assembly: Recent results from Sweden and England’. Co-author: Dr Sarah Semple, Dept. of Archaeology, University of Durham, Fornvännen 103, 4:2008 https://www.academia.edu/207766/Places_of_Assembly_New_Discoveries_in_Sweden_and_England

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 https://www.academia.edu/8110337/Tingsplatser_i_det_vikingatida_och_medeltida_Sverige_Assembly_sites_in_Viking_and_Medieval_Sweden_Co-author_Sarah_Semple_Popular_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 https://www.academia.edu/8110406/De_skulle_leva_i_Herrans_tukt_och_formaning_Popular_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

Edited Volumes

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). http://www.eaglehill.us/JONAonline/jona-S5-2013.shtml

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). http://www.eaglehill.us/JONAonline/jona-S4-2013.shtml

Signals of Belief in Early England: Anglo-Saxon Paganism Revisited ed. Martin Carver, Alex Sanmark and Sarah Semple (Oxbow 2010)


‘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: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2022/13510/11.09.05.html?sequence=1)

’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 Invited talks and conferences

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: ‘Norse Assembly 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

  • Anna Gatti, 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.

    Suggested PhD topics

    • Viking Age Religion
    • Vikings in Scandinavia
    • Law and Ritual
    • Viking Expansion in the West
    • The Norse legal system and cult