I’m writing up for publication some of my reflections on the fascinating and varied scenes of funerals in Seasons 1-4 of the popular television drama series Vikings for publication. While many ideas for the funerals are derived from later saga literature and some contemporary written sources, the varied archaeological evidence from cemeteries and graves found across Scandinavia from the 7th-11th centuries have had manifold influences on the portrayed funerals.
Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 part 1 have depicted varied dimensions of mortuary practice. These include cremations on land and water, furnished and unfurnished inhumation graves. These have involved individual and mass funerals, funerary processions, human sacrifice, grave-robbing, infanticide and private (anti-funeral) burials. Throughout are the ever-present media of fire and water in the disposal of the dead and archaeological influences are evident but rarely specific.
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