Revisiting the Trelleborg house. A discussion of house types and assemblages

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The use of house types and typologies has played a central role in settlement archaeology in South Scandinavia since the earliest finds of longhouses, but the methods, use and concepts of the approach are rarely discussed within the field. An increasing critique of types and typologies calls for a renewed engagement with the approach. In the article, an investigation of the use of the Trelleborg house type serves as a case for identifying and discussing more general problems with house types and typologies. The investigation demonstrates how house types are, often unreflectively, closely integrated with the documentation of the archaeological houses. It is argued that the use of house types in the primary documentation of archaeological houses causes serious limitations in the possibilities for complex interpretations and understandings. The house type is better suited for specific and targeted studies with an explicit purpose. As an alternative to the typological approach, it is argued that assemblage theory is a fruitful way to rethink description of the archaeological record which provides possibilities for a more complex understanding and interpretation of the development and meaning of the archaeological house, and in this case more specifically of the Trelleborg house.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNorwegian Archaeological Review
Issue number1-2
Pages (from-to)142-161
Number of pages60
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Trelleborghus
  • vikingetid
  • Assemblage theory
  • langhus
  • typologi

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