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Home Boundless meetings Family and hierarchy 08: A hard life with room for caring 09: Ambátt and þræll 10: Inequality before the law 11: Exchange of ideas, goods and services 12: Women’s graves reflect complex roles 13: Warriors were highly valued 14: Only half lived past the age of ten 15: The young were buried dressed as adults 16: The key – a symbol of responsibility 17: Most men were farmers 18: Power and wealth were put on display Midgard Belief and traditions The living and the dead Divine craftwork Trading and raiding Waterways Town-like centres Christian monuments

Family and hierarchy

A society centred around relationships

Society was hierarchical and its members were valued differently. The major difference was between the free and the unfree. But even within these groups, individuals were ranked based on class, kin, sex and place of origin.

At the very bottom were the unfree, the thralls. The unfree could advance in the hierarchy and free individuals could lose their rights. There was a certain degree of social mobility.

Kin relationships and support from other allies was important. For the free, kinship was counted both on the father’s and the mother’s side. When marrying, both partners retained their extended family.

How people were buried reflected their social circumstances and status in life, as well as the nature of male and female norms. The graves also inform us about the choices and strategies of the survivors. They could choose to highlight or tone down different aspects of the life and deeds of the deceased.

The choice of objects in the grave and the rituals carried out was often guided by the need for the survivors to cement alliances or establish new contacts. Therefore, the design of the grave often offers a picture of relations in society, and not just a reflection of the life of the buried individual.

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A hard life with room for caring  >
House
08
Ambátt and þræll  >
House
09
Inequality before the law  >
House
10
Exchange of ideas, goods and services  >
House
11
Women’s graves reflect complex roles  >
House
12
Warriors were highly valued  >
House
13
Only half lived past the age of ten  >
House
14
The young were buried dressed as adults  >
House
15
The key – a symbol of responsibility  >
House
16
Most men were farmers  >
House
17
Power and wealth were put on display  >
House
18