Female Viking Warrior Takes Center Stage at Annual AIA Lecture

Feb. 6, 2019
Katelynn Rosa '19
Female Viking Warrior
The March 12 lecture at Assumption will explore the excavated grave of what is now deemed to have been a female Viking warrior.

For centuries, Vikings have been portrayed as male warriors, but according to Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson, Ph.D., there was at least one female among them.  Dr. Hedenstierna-Jonson, the co-director of the Viking Phenomenon Project at the University of Uppsala in Sweden, will present the lecture, “Grave Bj 581: the Viking Warrior that was a Woman,” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12, in Jeanne Y. Curtis Performance Hall in the Tsotsis Family Academic Center on Assumption’s campus, 500 Salisbury Street.  The lecture will be preceded by a reception in the Brian ‘83 and Paqui Kelly Atrium, beginning at 6:30 p.m. 

Dr. Hedenstierna-Jonson’s lecture will discuss a famed Viking burial chamber that was excavated in the late 19th century and presumed to hold a high-status male warrior, but through osteological and DNA evidence has been re-identified as having honored a female warrior.

“DNA evidence suggests that the tomb memorialized a woman with strong cultural affinities to the Ukraine, changing what we thought we knew about medieval trade and society in the Baltic region,” said Lance Lazar, associate professor of history at Assumption and president of the Worcester Chapter of the Archeological Institute of America. “With the new crop of excellent Viking-themed series that have popped up on Netflix, this outstanding topic is sure to appeal to a variety of audiences.”

Dr. Hedenstierna-Jonson studied at the Archaeological Research Laboratory at Stockholm University, where she presented her thesis in 2006 on the Birka Warrior, an in-depth look at the material culture of a martial society. She is a senior curator at the Swedish History Museum, and has held research fellowships at Stockholm University in Sweden and the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz. Her previous research projects have focused on warfare, identities, mobility, and material culture in Late Iron Age - Viking Age societies. 

The 2019 Forsyth Lecture is co-sponsored by the Worcester Chapter of the Archeological Institute of America (AIA) and the Assumption HumanArts Series, as well as the Office of the Provost, the Women’s Studies program, and the Medieval and Early Modern Studies program. 

The AIA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote “archaeological inquiry and public understanding of the material record of the human past to foster an appreciation of diverse cultures and our shared humanity.” The organization also aims to support archaeologists in their research and practice as well as to educate as many as possible about the importance of archaeological discovery. Throughout its 110 local chapters across the United States, Canada and Europe, the AIA has more than 200,000 members dedicated to helping them achieve their mission.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Prof. Lance Lazar, llazar@assumption.edu.