Thomas Davis

Room 322, The Gregory Building, Lilybank Gardens

0141 330 3925

Research title

The Archaeology of the Animal in Viking-Age Paganism

Research summary

My PhD research involves a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary study of the role animals played within the rituals and performances of Old Norse religion, as viewed through the lens of the archaeological remains they left behind. In Viking paganism, animals were sacrificed, worshipped and buried as companions, their skins and hides worn for prestige and magical potency, their bones used as gaming pieces or runic inscription. Animals were sources of both food and power, physical and political. Animal motifs adorned artefacts and religious sculpture, and animals played a distinctive, active variety of roles within Viking cosmology. The boundary between human and animal could be crossed in battle, religious ecstasy, or by the Gods. Specific parts of specific animals could carry social prestige or embody magic potency and superstitious belief.


Additional information

Conference Papers

Davis, T. 2014 ‘Burning Beasts and Killing Companions: Approaching the archaeology of animal sacrifice in the Viking burials of Britain’ paper given at a symposium on Viking burials, University of Stirling, 12/9/14