Fra hedendom til kristendom, hva forteller gravmaterialet fra Sunnmøre om tidlig kristen innflytelse?
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Oppgaven tar for seg temaet overgangen fra hedendom til kristendom, og forsøker å belyse kristningsprosessen gjennom gravmaterialet på Sunnmøre.Gjennom utvalgte kriterer har jeg forsøkt å etterspore kristen innflytelse i de hedenske gravene.The subject for this thesis is the transformation from paganism to Christianity and how this may be reflected in the grave material from the Viking age. My aim with this thesis was to examine if this process could be traced in the archaeological record. I examined 78 graves from Sunnmøre in Møre og Romsdal, in Western Norway. Fifty-two of these could be dated to the Viking Age and the remaining 26 could only be dated widely to the late Iron Age. In my quest to trace early Christian influence in the grave material, I work with chosen criteria's such as the external form and the orientation of the grave, the way the body was situated in the grave, the presence of grave goods, if it was a cremation or inhumation grave and finally if any possible Christian symbols were presence in the grave. An overall examination of the material shows little presence of Christian influence on Sunnmøre in the Viking Age. If the graves that contained small amounts of grave goods is due to influence from the new religion, Christian influence could be traced in the 9th Century. However, a lack of grave goods could easily be explained by the difference in social status within the Viking society. Based on the graves orientation and external form there is no sign of influence from Christianity, as there is no increase in East-West oriented graves with no marking above ground in the 10th Century. Of the 7 graves that contained possible Christian symbols, only one could possibly be explained as related to Christianity. However it is more likely that the representation of the cross did not hold any religious meaning when it was laid down in the grave. The works of Gellein (2007), Skipstad (2009) and Nordeide (2011) contained important material for my comparative analysis, and by making comparisons with Sogn, Hordaland and Romsdal I was able to comment on the transformation from paganism to Christianity in the region of Western Norway. Romsdal aside, influence from the new religion could possible be seen in the 9th Century in Sogn, Hordaland and Sunnmøre, but this influence has been weak. Furthermore, the pagan grave burial costumes ceases around the 11th Century in all the examined areas. Sunnmøre does however stand out compared to the rest when it comes to the number of graves in the 10th Century. In Romsdal, Sogn and Hordaland we see an increase in the number of graves at this time, but in Sunnmøre there is a decrease. Normally a decrease in graves is explained by the influence from Christianity, but can also be explained by a change in power. Not everyone had the right to a grave. Only landowners had the power to build graves on their land. Farmers that borrowed the land did not have the right to do so. An increase in the number of graves at this time can be explained as a way to show resistance against Christianity and to show a belonging to the pagan faith. It is difficult to answer why this is the case on Sunnmøre. According to Snorri, a church was built on Sunnmøre in the middle of the 10th Century. Even though one should be careful when using such sources, it is quite interesting when we have such a decrease in graves in the 10th Century.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
- Archaeology 98