Women in the Viking Age by Judith Jesch is a detailed and informative publication that discusses women during the Viking Age through the close examination of a vast amount of resources. Judith Jesch is currently teaching at the University of Nottingham, and has extensive experience in a variety of publications. These works include authored books, edited books, articles in journals, chapters in edited books, short pieces, reviews, and literary as well as scholarly translations. In her own words as stated on the University of Nottingham website, Jesch's interests include “the language, literature, and history of the Viking Age, and medieval Scandinavia and Iceland”. Furthermore, Jesch admit that she enjoys “reading old manuscripts…studying rune stones in situ” and “looking at archaeological sites”. Jesch's obvious interest in all areas of the subject matter permeate her work, as it provides in depth research from both archaeological sites and cultural sources, such as poetry and other documents.
[...] Furthermore, women were most likely buried in their best clothes, so the reconstruction of clothing from burials may not reflect normal, every day life. Also, Jesch cautions that choice of objects may simply represent a local or temporary fashion in grave goods” (19). There is also a possible symbolic function of the grave goods that may be hard to infer. Grave goods especially leave an incomplete picture because Many types of work carried out by women leave no trace in burials, such as taking care of the home and raising children. [...]
[...] Jesch contends that “since the stones give us so little private information about either the commissioners or the commemorated, they are not good sources of information about the everyday lives of women in the Viking (64). However, Jesch does reason that they important documents that record the names and some of the details of the lives of women in the Viking (75). During the discussion of names of people, Jesch explains that by looking at documents from Scandinavian settlements in England, one can look for female Scandinavian names and infer populations of women that left their homeland to colonize abroad. [...]
[...] If women were presented positively, it was usually as mythical figures, such as valkyries, which welcomed warriors into the afterworld of Valhalla, offering frosty mugs of beer and comfort in their arms. When women were portrayed in a more masculine tone, such as warriors, they were removed from the ‘normal' population of women by having a separating characteristic, such as being a giant. The sources used by Jesch to accompany the above points are varied, and some resources are meant to fill in holes that exist within other sources. [...]
[...] The use of so many varied sources creates an interesting and informative work, and Jesch explains that information from these different types of sources adds up to a total picture of women in the Viking Age that is greater than the sum of its parts” Jesch first discusses the archaeology that can be used to shed light on the women of the Viking Age. She mostly concentrates on grave goods, items found in the burials of people, as evidence. Grave goods include not only clothing and jewelry, but weapons, domestic implements, items used in a person's trade, and decorative objects. [...]
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