Carolingian culture in the North Sea world: rethinking the cultural dynamics of personal adornment in Viking age England
Thomas, G. (2012) Carolingian culture in the North Sea world: rethinking the cultural dynamics of personal adornment in Viking age England. European Journal of Archaeology, 15 (3). pp. 486-518. ISSN 1741-2722
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1179/1461957112Y.0000000018
Boosted by a proliferation in metal-detected finds, categories of personal adornment now constitute a vital archaeological source for interpreting Viking-age cultural interaction in the North Sea region. Previous research in England has explored the potential of this metalwork in relation to the formation of ‘Anglo-Scandinavian’ identity, but without due consideration of a wider spectrum of cultural influences. This article redresses the balance by shifting attention to twenty-eight belt fittings derived from richly embellished baldrics, equestrian equipment, and waist belts manufactured on the Frankish continent during the period of Carolingian hegemony in the later eighth and ninth centuries ad. The metalwork is classified and then contextualized in order to track import mechanisms and to assess the impact of Carolingian culture on the northern peripheries of the Frankish empire. The main conclusion is that the adoption, adaptation, and strategic manipulation of Carolingian/northern Frankish identity formed an embedded component of cultural dynamics in Viking-age England, scrutiny of which sheds new light on patterns of interconnectivity linking peoples of the North Sea world.