chapter  3
13 Pages

From written sources to archaeological remains – medieval shielings in central Scandinavia

WithSusanne Pettersson

Old Norwegian laws, such as the Gulatingslov, the Frostatingslov and the Magnus Lagabøters landslov provide details about legal rights and obligations for shieling systems. With its aim of using archaeology as the basis for discussion, this chapter focuses on the medieval period at some shielings as seen from a long-term perspective. It examines age and origin by place name, written sources, pollen analyses and radiocarbon dates. The chapter discusses the clearing, grazing, cereal cultivation and accommodation patterns in relation to 'real' shielings as defined by ethnographers as well as to flexibility and the transhumance and grazing package which facilitated the establishment of settlement in inhospitable terrain. It then addresses the impact of the central Scandinavian convention of building houses in timber and the effects of modern practices at most shielings with regards to how to identify a medieval or prehistoric shieling from among modern sites and remnants when all timber has disappeared.