Warrior Identities and Early Nordic Bronze Age double graves. Thoughts on a peculiar double grave from Karlstrup, Denmark

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch


Throughout history alternative gender identities and categories have been integral to social groups that are highly-performative and/or rigorously hierarchical, as e.g. within martial fraternities. Here, we open up for an alternative interpretation of a same-sex double grave from the Early Nordic Bronze Age from Denmark. We suggest the possibility that the hierarchal warrior class – the so-called ‘warrior elite’, may have embodied a distinctive gender category of its own, based on individual mobility and dynamic fraternal relationships. Thus, we suggest that male identities, as represented in some mortuary contexts in the Nordic Bronze Age including members of the warrior class, were more complex than may be hypothesized based purely on gender-normative notions of masculinity. We propose that the warrior lifestyle might have included intimate interpersonal relationships between men as part of the shared warrior ideology and that this type of relationship might have been a recognized feature of the warrior elite. To investigate this hypothesis, we look at features of the same-sex male double grave from Karlstrup, Denmark and compare it with other Nordic Bronze Age double burials. For broader context, we draw insights on the graves in our sample with evidence from, among others, Classical and anthropological literature. We offer a brief discussion of why gender-related interpretive frameworks are of value to our understandings of the archaeological record, and provide another layer of information offering a deeper understanding of prehistoric societies and individuals’ potential social mobility in the past.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019
EventEuropean Association of Archaeologists Annual Meeting 2019 - Main Building / Unis, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
Duration: 4 Sep 20197 Sep 2019
Conference number: 25


ConferenceEuropean Association of Archaeologists Annual Meeting 2019
LocationMain Building / Unis, University of Bern
Internet address


  • Nordic Bronze Age
  • gender diversity
  • identity
  • double-graves
  • warrior ideology

Cite this