Me and My New Book


Rundkvist, Martin. 2011. Mead-halls of the Eastern Geats. Elite Settlements and Political Geography AD 375-1000 in Östergötland, Sweden. Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien (KVHAA), Handlingar, Antikvariska serien 49. Stockholm 2011. 165 pp. ISBN 978-91-7402-405-0.

The Swedish province of Östergötland has long been recognised as one of the 1st millennium’s political hot spots. Splendid single finds, though never before surveyed comprehensively, offer a rough idea of where elite settlements might be sought. But not one of the ostentatious manorial buildings where the era’s elite lived has been identified in the field. This book aims at beginning to remedy this regional absence of mead-halls, being an investigation of the internal political geography of Östergötland during the period AD 375-1000. Good candidate sites are identified in nine out of c. 155 parishes. Apparently they were occupied only rather briefly by magnates, and there is little sign of continuity anywhere.

Key words
Archaeology, Early Medieval, Sweden, Östergötland, Viking, elite, political geography


And here’s how happy I was back on 6 March 2003 when the first volume of my PhD thesis was delivered from the printers:



  1. #1 tenine
    September 6, 2011

    Are there descriptions of excavations of mead halls in this work? Its certainly not in my area of specialization, but I feel curious sometimes if elite architecture is similar in different cultures in different parts of the world.

  2. #2 Deborah
    September 6, 2011


  3. #3 Steven Blowney
    September 6, 2011

    A. Congratulations. B. Will this be available in the US? C. Realize that Christmas is coming…

  4. #4 Tobias
    September 6, 2011


  5. #5 Martin R
    September 6, 2011

    Thanks everyone!

    Tenine, no, sorry, we didn’t get the landowner’s permission to dig in the field where the mead-hall is.

    Steve, yes, the book will be available for global mail order, and 6 months from now there will be an Open Access PDF too.

  6. #6 Thomas Ivarsson
    September 6, 2011

    Well done Martin/Grattis. I hope it will be available soon for reading. I am starved of iron age politics outside of that Snorre Sturlasson has written about around 1200 AD.

  7. #7 Daumiz
    September 6, 2011

    Congratulations with your new book !

    BTW I’m currently reading Barshalder 2 and found a reference to:

    Rundkvist, Martin. In press. Changing gender symbolism in aristocratic burial at the Migration-Vendel Period interface in Gotland, Sweden. Nilsson, Liv & Vander Linden, Marc(eds.). Dealing with death. BAR International Series. Oxford.

    Unfortunately I was unable to find BAR volume with this title, perhaps you could help me with it ? 🙂

  8. #8 Mattias
    September 6, 2011

    Congratulations! I will definitely have to read this – even if not my field in the academic sense, Östergötland is certainly my personal field of provenance as an artifact. 🙂

  9. #9 Nariane
    September 6, 2011


    I’m off to add it to my wish list (if possible) afterall the holidays will be here soon.

  10. #10 John S. Wilkins
    September 6, 2011

    Congratulations! You are now a member in full of the club of published and penurious academic authors!

  11. #11 Ulf
    September 6, 2011

    Grattis! Where can I get this in the US?

  12. #12 Martin R
    September 7, 2011

    Thanks everyone!

    Daumiz, that anthology project never made it into publication. I’m very pleased to learn that you’re reading the book!

    The book will be available for global mail order, and 6 months from now there will be an Open Access PDF too.

  13. #13 Birger Johansson
    September 7, 2011

    Congratulations! It is a pity those mead halls were built of wood, leaving few traces after their brief usage. It would be several more centuries before stone and brick entered widespread use (ironically, in Africa there are similar problems for archaeology).
    It has made me wonder if there were disadvantages with using more durable materials. Did the primitive mortar of the period erode quickly from ice crystal formation? Or is this simply a case of slow technology transfer, in the absence of major advantages of using stone/brick constructions?

    BTW, apart from the shorter beard, you have a scary likeness to Alexander Bard! 🙂

  14. #14 Martin R
    September 7, 2011

    Post holes survive, and if sites are not ploughed, stone terraces too.

    To build stone and brick houses, you need well-organised and technically demanding quarries, brickworks and road systems.

    I’m twice as tall and half as wide as Mr. Bard!

  15. #15 Steven Blowney
    September 7, 2011

    Thank you, Martin.

  16. #16 JG
    September 7, 2011


  17. #17 Samuel R. M.
    September 8, 2011


    Meatballs of the Easter Geeks.

    Had to say that.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to at least taking a quick gander of the contents!

  18. #18 Mattias
    September 8, 2011

    What about “Weed-crawls of the feaster cheats”? Surely their history is worth writing, too.

  19. #19 Mattias
    September 8, 2011

    “I’m twice as tall and half as wide as Mr. Bard!”

    Does that mean that a Martin Rundkvist standing up and an Alexander Bard lying down are identical?

  20. #20 Martin R
    September 9, 2011

    Aha, you are referring to the time-hallowed pre-party cannabis hunt. Is it then your contention that any Viking who uses non-alcoholic chemical stimulants to increase his enjoyment of mead-hall feasts is cheating?

  21. #21 Martin R
    September 9, 2011

    No, if you turn either me or Alexander bard over 90 degrees you get two versions of Lee Hazlewood.

  22. #22 Jonathan Jarrett
    September 9, 2011

    Congratulations once again, Martin, it looks very sharp (possibly in all senses, watch out for paper cuts). I’ll prod the Archaeology department here to invest in a copy.

  23. #23 Mattias
    September 10, 2011

    Yes, Martin, that would be the main contention of that book. 😉

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