The Cover of My Upcoming Book

i-b617ccfa440e65b095f641fadbc10fe9-Mead-halls cover.png

Ever since I started blogging in 2005 I’ve been talking about my Östergötland project, where I’ve been chasing the elite of the mid-to-late 1st millennium in one of Sweden’s richest agricultural provinces. This project has produced a number of journal papers, talks, radio appearances, archive reports and additions to museum collections. But there hasn’t been a book (though Dear Readers John Massey and Deborah Sabo have helped copy-edit a manuscript).

Soon there will be one.

I’m very pleased to be able to show you its cover, designed by Tina Hedh-Gallant (who is also laying out the contents) around a photograph by James P. Wilby.

The title is Mead-halls of the Eastern Geats, the ISBN 978-91-7402-405-0, and the book will be published by the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters in its venerable Proceedings series. It is a considerable source of pride to me that I get to share a billing with the people who have put out books in that series since 1789.

I finished correcting the first set of PDF proofs today. We’re printing 400 copies, due out for the Göteborg Book Fair on 22-25 September where I’ll be on stage, and six months later the Academy will also publish the whole thing for free on the web as an Open Access book.

My doctoral thesis treated a similar theme, powerful people in the mid-to-late 1st millennium. But since those lived on the island of Gotland, most colleagues working with similar issues on the mainland have not had reason to use that pair of volumes. I believe the new book will have a considerably wider appeal both within and without the archaeological profession.


  1. #1 Janne
    June 10, 2011

    With “Mead-halls” as the title word, can we hope for a mead recipe or two perhaps, in a sidebar if nothing else? Something about the likely food?

  2. #2 Martin R
    June 10, 2011

    Sadly no. And even worse: the book details my search for mead-halls, which ended before I had actually found one of the damn things. But at least I’ve established a pretty solid platform for future research.

  3. #3 Mattias
    June 10, 2011

    Congratulations! The cover looks great – what is the building in the picture?

    By sheer coincidence I am today myself correcting proofs for a book, due in August or September:

  4. #4 Martin R
    June 10, 2011

    Thanks Matte! The building is a reconstructed Viking period army barracks near Slagelse in Zealand. Note the wind-power mill on the horizon! I opted not to have it retouched.

    And congrats on your book! I look forward to hearing you perform that tune.

  5. #5 Birger Johansson
    June 10, 2011

    No Grendel sightings? No bones with signs of holmgång axe wounds? (of course, some areas practised cremation 🙁 )

    (OT) Mask of Eris
    Check out the “pagan” entry category. The pre-historical Finns had basically the same taste for drinking and feasting as their neighbours across the Bothnic sea.
    (The later history was determined by which group of missionaries (west or east) got to the various Finn-Ugric people first).

  6. #6 Mattias
    June 10, 2011

    I didn’t see the wind-power station until you pointed it out. Is that the wind-mill grinding the crops for the mead, perhaps?

  7. #7 Birger Johansson
    June 10, 2011

    (OT) What the… ”Swedish man convicted of sex with sheep”
    Now I know how the blokes in South Carolina feel about embarrassing headlines.
    I need to purge that image from my brain with a barrel of mead…

  8. #8 Steven Blowney
    June 10, 2011

    Congratulations on your pending publication. I will look forward to finding a copy (price?) and reading it.

  9. #9 Martin R
    June 10, 2011

    Thanks! I don’t know about the price of the paper version. But from March 2012 until the Mayan apocalypse you will be able to read the Open Access version for free.

  10. #10 Birger Johansson
    June 10, 2011

    Those barracks (set up by Harold Bluetooth) are a good example of how wrong the idea of disorganised viking hordes is. If I recall correctly, Harold set up a force of professional warriors as the kernel of his invasion force (this does not necessarily disprove that previous attacks on England were conducted by rather loose bands).
    Just as the Spartan army at the battle of Plataiai was a quite different army from the one that tried to stop the Macedonians 150 years later, so the “vikings” were not a static or homogenous group.

  11. #11 Johan Anglemark
    June 11, 2011

    Very impressive cover. Medu-seld, as they were called in Rohirric! 🙂

  12. #12 Thomas Ivarsson
    June 11, 2011

    Congratulations Martin. It will be interesting to read both regarding the topic and see your style of writing in a book. Political Geography also sounds interesting.

  13. #13 dustbubble
    June 11, 2011

    Any opinions on the indications of the boss of Trelleborg casting his net fairly widely, in a bid to make up the numbers?

    the young men in its cemetery were largely recruited from outside Denmark, perhaps from Norway or the Slavic regions. Even persons buried together proved to have different origins, and the three females sampled were all from overseas, including a wealthy woman with a silver casket. Trelleborg, home of Harald Bluetooth’s army, was a fortress of foreigners with vivid implications for the nature of his political mission.
    (Don’t have the wherewithal to penetrate the paywall)

  14. #14 Birger Johansson
    June 11, 2011

    Dustbubble, considering how pragmatic Norse rulers proved elsewhere, it would not be surprising at all if Bluetooth recruited from vendic slavs as well a Norwegians, Swedes or from East of the Baltic. And with the intense contacts, there would be many half-danes spread over the continent, some of them opting to serve with an up-and-coming Danish ruler (especially if they were younger sons).

  15. #15 John Massey
    June 11, 2011

    Great cover.

  16. #16 Martin R
    June 12, 2011

    Thomas, thanks!

    Dustbubble, my professional opinion is that the research you refer to is so fucking cool. Price almost got a chair in Stockholm at one point. Too bad he didn’t!

    Birger, now we know why Half-Dane was such a common name! (-;

  17. #17 ArchAsa
    June 12, 2011

    It looks great! Love the title as well. And I love all things mead related also, so this will be a must-have!

  18. #18 Nick
    June 12, 2011

    Now that looks interesting. I think i have to add this book to my library about noric history.

  19. #19 Birgr Johansson
    June 12, 2011

    (OT) They get the Aesir mixed up… “You can’t argue with logic like this”

  20. #20 Birger Johansson
    June 12, 2011

    (OT) The climate is truly messed up!
    “North Swedish town hottest in Europe”
    I am just waiting for the conspiracy theorists to notice this one. Commie plot to make the boreal zone/sub-arctic more popular than Florida? Notice that we call these heat episodes “Russian Heat” (Ryssvärme).

  21. #21 Jonathan Jarrett
    June 14, 2011

    Excellent! I’m sure you won’t fail to do this, but do let us all know when it’s finally out; I know people who need to know…

  22. #22 B
    June 25, 2011

    Congratulations! I love the cover photo, even though it looks nothing like the one in The Scorpion King. 🙂

  23. #23 Dave Huggins
    June 30, 2011

    Looks like another title I’ll add to the ‘wish list’ Martin.
    BTW speaking of mead-halls, have you read Steve Pollington’s ‘The Mead Hall’?

    I see also Neil Price has a re-evaluation of the Viking Piracy in his fourthcoming publication

    Move over Jack Sparrow!

    Also have you read Lotte Hedeager’s new book, if so what are your thoughts?

  24. #24 Martin R
    June 30, 2011

    Pollington’s and Hedeager’s books look interesting. I haven’t read them. I am skeptical of wide-ranging mythical interpretations.

    I heard Price present on his Viking pirates in Kirkwall a few years ago. Good talk!

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