RPF 2016/17: Cultures in communication in the Long Viking Age

Project: Other projectOther internal award

Project Details


Amount awarded £18,448

Layman's description

This project prepares the ground for a large grant application entitled Framing the Viking Age.This will explore culture-contact and communication around the North Sea area (c. AD700-1100). Its spine will be the analysis of newly available metal-detected data from northern Europe (England, Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands): the first international use of this dataset, offering the opportunity to consider long-distance movement at a formative moment in European history.

We will build partnerships, and define/test methods, foregrounding a grant application that will yield significant outputs and impact on the development of nascent heritage initiatives across northern Europe.

Key findings

Original aims:
(1) To scope the availability of metal-detected data from Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and investigate its compatibility with the existing English dataset.

(2). Develop and trial a methodology for the synthesis and analysis of metal-detected datasets from England, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Specifically, this will involve (a) the development of a common vocabulary to cover material recorded across the four regions, and (b) investigation of the compatibility of information regarding dating and findspot locations. ACHIEVED

(3). Build a collaborative network of researchers at institutions across the North Sea, in order to develop a major international project to make use of this new evidence. ACHIEVED

Particular findings of our data-scoping and discussions include the confirmation that:
(1) significant metal-detected data relating to travel and communication in the Viking Age exists in Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, and England
(2) This data is stored in diverse formats
(3) Our tailored approaches to the extraction, cleaning, and synthesis of this data are effective
(4) There is significant potential for integration of this data within broader frames of reference, drawing on themes from (i.a.) literature, history, linguistics, and genetics.
(5) The nascent PAN (Netherlands) database provides a model for integration of data on a large scale across multiple regions.

At the end of the pilot project then, we were in an excellent position to progress with the research, which is novel, significant, and timely (in terms of both scholarly context and contemporary politics). There were potentially significant confounds to its funding, however, which consisted in the perceived problems in integrating four sets of complex and 'difficult' data. We are now confident that these problems have been resolved, such that the feasibility of our planned application has been established and can be readily demonstrated.

At present, the PI (Ashby) and Co-I (Tys) are working on developing a large grant application, intended for AHRC in the first instance. Progress on this has been slow but steady, as we scope details of potential case studies and datasets. The project remains novel, with no similar research being attempted on such a scale.
Effective start/end date1/08/1631/07/17


  • DH Netherlands (The Low Countries)
  • DL Northern Europe. Scandinavia
  • CC Archaeology