A Major Burial Ground Discovered at Fjälkinge

Reflections of Life in a Scanian Viking Village


  • Bertil Helgesson Institute of Archaeology, University of Lund
  • Caroline Arcini Central Board of National Antiquities, Department of Archaeological Investigations


This paper deals with the most important results from the excavation of a part of a large burial ground in Fjälkinge, a village in southern Sweden, which uncovered 121 graves dated to the late Viking Age and the early Middle Ages or AD 900-1050, approximately. The burial ground was in use during the transition period between pagan and Christian burial customs, as indicated by differences as regards grave goods and skeleton orientation. More than 60% of the graves contained the well preserved skeletons of small children including many infants. In addition, the age and sex distribution of the aduit individuals is also aberrant, probably explained by the excavated area just being a part of a much larger burial ground and possibly by different age groups and/or social groups being buried separately. Some of the graves have special features which give us some insight into the beliefs and the social life of a Viking village community. Many individuals in Fjälkinge at that time suffered from chronic diseases, some of them severe, as is apparent from their skeletal changes. Nevertheless, especially the women became quite old. In many ways our findings contradict the traditional picture of Vikings as strong, magnificent and ruthless.