Casting Identities in Central Seclusion : Aspects of non-ferrous metalworking and society on Gotland in the Early Medieval Period

Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis has been to investigate and interpret late Iron Ageand Early Medieval traces of non-ferrous metalworking on the islandGotland, Sweden. Gotland was not, based on the archaeological record, anintegrated part of the common Scandinavian culture. Instead a local,endemic cultural expression had developed; a seclusion which lasted forcenturies despite the islands central position in the Baltic Sea. In thepast, key elements for the understanding of local settlement- and burialpractices as well as the local material culture were mainly recovered andreported by local farmers. A specific category of such finds – so-called‘bronze slag’ is discussed and partly reinterpreted in the first study ofthis thesis. Two further studies treat different aspects of metalworkingand metalworkers – one discusses common archaeological notions ofScandinavian workshops, production sites and metalworkers from a criticalperspective while the other mainly focuses on the Gotlandic finds frommetal-detector surveys carried out over the last 35 years. Based on whereand to which extent, both from a quantitative and a qualitative point ofview, these finds occur a hierarchical classification into four sub groupsis presented – ordinary farm sites with traces of non-ferrous metalworking,workshop sites, potential workshop sites and last, extrovert harboursettlements. A fourth study presents an attempt to evaluate the usefulnessof magnetometry in delimiting extant traces of high-temperature crafts,such as metalworking. The last study of the thesis presents an attempt touse trace elements analysis of skeletal lead in human bone to identifypotential non-ferrous metalworkers.As the wearing of endemic Gotlandic jewellery appears to have been centralin the manifestation of the local identity it is argued that themetalworking artisans played a crucial role in defining how this identitywas signalled and displayed via the jewellery and dress-related metalobjects. It is further suggested that these artisans might have played animportant role in upholding the local economy before the advent of localminting.