This book is a social, political and economic history of the 1200 years during which the tribal societies of Northern Europe evolved into the earliest Viking states. It offers an analysis and interpretation of the rich archaeological record and of the most recent results of environmental research. The book opens with a consideration of burials and hoards, and of the rituals that can be reconstructed from them. The author isolates successive periods of social transformation that were marked by changes in the use of ritual as a vehicle for both change and its consolidation. She describes the social and political geography of the region, and traces the gradual move from tribal-based military and tributary relations towards the central organization of warfare and tribute. Before the end of the period the North could wield a formidable military force within and beyond the region, which had acted to overshadow earlier village loyalties. Dr Hedeager concludes with an analysis of the ways in which social transformation is revealed and expressed by changes in settlements and in their economic relations with the world beyond. She shows that, by the end of the 7th century, the economic, political and military structures of the archaic states of northern Europe were already clearly evident.
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