About this site


On these pages you will find information relating to the post-doctoral research project “Immigration and mobility in mediaeval and post-mediaeval Norway”. You will find information about the project’s aims and objectives, its methodology, and its¬†management and contributors. In addition to this,¬†the blog aims to give an up-to-date account of the project’s progress,¬†as well as providing an insight into my life as a researcher and things that I find academically¬†interesting. Posts of a personal nature will be kept to a minimum but I can’t promise you won’t be exposed to the odd mundane entry. When I write the blog posts, I will sometimes assume a certain knowledge of the project and some things may be difficult to understand if you haven’t had a look at the project description.

If you have any thoughts on any of the things in the blog posts, please leave a comment. I will attempt to respond to comments and answer questions as quickly as possible. To leave a comment, press the ‚ÄúNo comments‚ÄĚ link below the posts.

April 11th, 2013

Mannen med hull i hodet

Denne mannen levde i Trondheim p√• 1200-tallet. Han har en h√łyst interessant sykdomshistorie¬†og den har jeg skrevet litt¬†om, samtidig som jeg gj√łr meg noen tanker om hva dette kan si om¬†middelaldersamfunnet i Trondheim. Du kan laste ned historien her (pdf.): Mannen med hull i hodet

SK259_RBG 20cm


November 22nd, 2016

The project has ended but continues. Article published!

It’s been a long time since I posted something here and the project has officially ended in the meantime. That the project has¬†finished means that I no longer get paid for doing this research, but the work continues nonetheless as there is¬†still a lot of potential left in this project. There are papers to be written, a conference proceedings which is planned published by the beginning of next year, and there is a museum exhibition opening¬†during the last weekend of September at Bryggens museum. I will get back to most of this in later posts and concentrate on two things now.

Firstly, on the same day as the project ended I gave a presentation at the Christie Conference in Grieghallen in Bergen. Being invited to speak at this conference was an honour and an excellent way of ending the project. My talk was well received and if you’re interested, you can watch it here (it’s in Norwegian). A couple of days before the conference I had an article published in Aftenposten covering much the same¬†as the conference speech. You’ll find this newspaper article her (also in Norwegian).

Secondly, the first major scientific¬†article from this project¬†has finally been published and it deals with the results of the stable oxygen isotope investigation of the skeletons in Trondheim.¬†It’s been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, and it’s been published “open access” so everybody can read if free of charge, if¬†they wish to do so. You’ll find the article here.


July 27th, 2016

Conference: 30th and 31st March, 2016

To mark the completion of this three year research project, I, in cooperation with the Research group for mediaeval studies at the University of Bergen, will be hosting a conference which aims to expand the knowledge of the pre-modern Scandinavian population. I hope to bring together representatives of several different academic disciplines to discuss topics surrounding pre-modern immigration and mobility in Scandinavia. Half of the program is already full, but there is still room for more speakers.


The title of the conference:

Multidisciplinary approaches to improve our understanding of immigration and mobility in pre-modern Scandinavia (1000-1900)

Webpage: https://medieval-immigration.w.uib.no/conference-2016


If these are topics you are working with, please, consider presenting a paper. The different conference sessions and speakers presented on the conference webpage.

If this sounds interesting or if you have any questions, send me an e-mail: stian.hamre@uib.no


November 2nd, 2015

Two lectures on ancient DNA

My two DNA colleagues from the¬†Institut f√ľr Gerichtliche Medizin der¬†Medizinischen Universit√§t Innsbruck will be visiting and have agreed do give two lectures dealing with different aspects of ancient DNA. The lectures will last approximately half an hour each and it will be open for questions afterwords. The lectures are open for everyone, so, if this sounds interesting you’re most welcome.


Location: Seminarrom 1 which is located on the ground floor of √ėysteinsgate 3.

Date: Thursday 20th August

Time: 09.30


The lectures:

Professor Walther Parson¬†will give the folowing lecture: “The Russian Tsar family,¬†Mozart and Friedrich Schiller: What can DNA from old bones tell us about historic¬†persons?”


Petra Kralj, PhD candidate,¬†will give the following lecture “How ancient DNA¬†analysis uncovers history. Migrations in medieval Trondheim”.



August 7th, 2015

A short update from Leiden

I’ve been in Leiden for¬†two months now and it’s rather enjoyable. The town is very nice and the same can be said about the university. It’s a university which put focus on archaeology as is evident from the fact that a whole faculty has been devoted to it. There is also a¬†department for osteology and funerary archaeology with several times more osteologists than in the whole of Norway, so, for me, this is¬†an excellent place to be. I’ve even gone slightly Dutch since I’ve been here. The last time I went Dutch was at Sandown Park.¬†I’m riding a bike to work and I’ve started to make sounds previously unfamiliar to me during conversations. The Dutch language is, indeed, an interesting one, and quite good fun to try¬†to learn.

With views like these along the way, the ride to work is quite pleasant.



Over to something more serious and project related. I’ve got a slightly busy, and hopefully quite exciting,¬†week ahead of me. On Monday I’m going to Trondheim to attend the yearly¬†SAMKUL conference and seminar. ¬†There I will meet project leaders and participants in the¬†other SAMKUL funded projects and learn more about the¬†other research projects within this NRC program. My stay in Trondheim will, however,¬†be a rather short one and already the next day I’ll be leaving for Innsbruck where I will meet with the Walther Parson and Petra Kralj from the¬†GMI. This is something I’ve been waiting for for a long time and will be very important for the project. The rest of the week we will go through the results of the DNA¬†analyses and¬†I don’t really have any idea of what’s been found, so, needless to say, these are exciting times.

I have also had some time to look at the isotope data¬†and there is a good mixture of exciting and expected results. It is evident that the studied population was quite a mobile one, with people moving to and from the¬†area, and some moving away and later back again. I can’t go into too much detail as the interpretation of the data hasn’t finished and it will also have to be properly published before I can share every detail here on the blog. With regard to the further interpretation of the isotope data, I am pleased to announce that I will be cooperating with Val√©rie Daux at Universit√© de Versailles in France. I am very hopeful that this cooperation will be¬†a great asset for project and I’m looking forward to our first meeting in a couple of weeks’ time.

October 30th, 2014

New book series about Scandinavian archaeology

De Gruyter Open publishers have decided to start a new book series about Scandinavian archaeology and I have accepted to be the series editor, so I will use this blog post to promote this new venture.


As the title suggests, the book series will be about Scandinavian archaeology and this is the only criteria you be aware of if you would like to have a book published in this series. All types of books will be considered for publication: monographs, edited volumes, conference proceedings etc. Topics may range from stone age archaeology to forensic archaeology to theoretical and/or methodological books. As long as the topic has a connection to Scandinavia, the book will be considered for publication.


Before you stop reading, I should mention that the first three books in this series will be published free of charge (more information below).


The book series will be published as “open access” and here are¬†some of the advantages with using this publishing model:

“As a publishing model, Open Access enables your research to reach the widest possible audience. It also allows you to share the results with the global scholarly community. So far, Open Access has been successfully used for journals and now we seek to apply it to monographs. Not only has research refuted the assumption that Open Access jeopardizes print sales, it has in fact shown that the publishing model can significantly increase them. Electronic Publishing also offers many additional features that are not available in traditional formats, such as reference linking, full-text search etc. As the cost of handling Open Access publishing is lower, one can afford publishing very specialized books, which otherwise, due to their small potential audience, might not have been accepted for print by traditional academic publishers.” (text taken from the publisher’s website)

For answers to many other questions regarding “open access” publishing, go to¬†the FAQ¬†website.

What do you get if you decide to publish in this series? 

  • rigorous and comprehensive peer-review of submitted proposals and manuscripts
  • English language copy-editing by native English speaking specialists in the field
  • professional composition of the manuscript in PDF format
  • hosting the book on a sophisticated platform, which offers many functionalities, e.g. active links in references
  • printed copies sold to libraries and individuals, by De Gruyter Open and distributors (e.g. Amazon)
  • complimentary printed copies for book author and editors
  • royalties for the author from print copy sales
  • indexing by Google and other search engines
  • e-book delivery to libraries and full-text repositories (e.g. Google Book Search)
  • Creative Commons copyright license


Publication charges, waiver policy and funding

De Gruyter Open applies the author-pays model to support publication costs, and charges a flat fee of 10,000 euros for any monograph, textbook, edited volume or reference work published. In order to help authors De Gruyter Open has introduced a waiver and discount policy. For information on whether you are eligible, please contact the managing editor in your discipline. For archaeology this is Katarzyna Michalak and she can be reached on the following e-mail address: Katarzyna.Michalak@degruyteropen.com


Extensive and constantly updated information about available funding for open access publications can be found here: Funding for authors


However, the first three books in this series will be published free of charge, so if you have written a book, just about to finish a book, or have arranged a¬†conference and would like to have the proceedings published, this might be just the opportunity you are looking for. Be among the first three to publish in this series and you don’t have to worry about funding.


You can download a book proposal form here: Book-Proposal-Form


If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch:¬†stian.hamre@ahkr.uib.no or Stian.SuppersbergerHamre@degruyteropen.com

October 2nd, 2014

I’m back from leave and the project has progressed well

It’s been quite a while since I last put out a post on this blog and the main reason for that is that I haven’t been at work most of the time. The last five months have been spent as a full time dad, first twelve weeks paternity leave and quickly followed up by my summer holidays. Anyway, I’m back at work and things have been progressing while I’ve been away.¬†Most of my isotope samples have been analysed. I have received the results for the analysis of all the water samples and all the enamel samples and, according¬†to my latest information, the results for the bone samples will be ready within a couple of weeks. The analyses in¬†the DNA lab is also progressing well and results from this work is also expected within the very¬†near future. Although, the timing of¬†my leave was purely coincidental,¬†it couldn’t have happened at a better time¬†as the project has been progressing so well without me with all the lab work¬†being done.

So, what’s next?

Until I get the final isotope results I have a fair bit I have to read up on to be as prepared as I can manage¬†for the¬†interpretation of the results. To be able to make the best possible interpretation of the isotope data it is important that I have the best possible understanding of the limitations of the methodology and also that I have the best possible understanding of the historical and archaeological context¬†for the skeletons from which the samples were taken. This is, of course, not something I’ve just started reading about, but, as you probably know, the amount of information is endless and there is always new¬†books and articles to read and new angles to explore.

In about¬†four weeks I will be going to the Netherlands where I will stay until the end of November. I’ll be¬†visiting Leiden University as a visiting researcher. I am looking forward to spending some time in the Netherlands and¬†I believe being part of the¬†Faculty of¬†Archaeology at¬†the University of Leiden, with its extensive and varied expertise,¬†will do the project a lot of good.

I will be back with more, possibly exciting, information during the autumn when the results are being interpreted.

July 24th, 2014

Trip to Innsbruck

A few weeks ago I went to Insbruck to meet with professor Walther Parson and Petra Kralj, who are responsible for carrying out the DNA analyses for my project, and to give a talk to the staff at GMI about my research. Walther Parson is supervising the work but it is Petra Kralj (PhD candidate at GMI) who are actually doing the DNA extractions. The meeting went well and we talked about the results from the first batch of extractions. As expected, the amount and quality of the DNA extracted, varied between the bone samples but the overall picture is promising. There is no doubt the extractions are of such a quality that the further analyses will be very interesting.

It was nice to meet Petra who gave me a presentation of what is actually happening to the bones samples. The process of extracting DNA from bone is meticulous one and below I want to show you what Petra showed me. The following presentation is written by Petra Kralj and the photos are hers as well (reproduced here with persmission).

Every single piece of bone will go through this process. Every photo, corresponding information and results will follow the bone fragment and the related skeleton for future use. All information will be made available for other researchers shortly after this project is finished.


Description of what happens to the bone samples from Trondheim, by Petra Kralj.

A cardboard box containing Trondheim bone samples and reference material for comparison was delivered to the Institute of Legal Medicine in Innsbruck (Austria) for the study of mitochondrial deoxyribonucleic acid (mtDNA) and autosomal Short Tandem Repeats (STRs, microsatellites) on July 16th 2013. After some detailed photographs of the outer surface of the shipment and its contents had been taken, the contents were unpacked, described and thoroughly photo-documented. The 63 double labelled cup containers, each containing one piece of the femur (or tibia) bone of an individual, could be divided into five groups by the label (sample name) and further into two groups by the estimated age.

The bone samples were weighed, photographed from all four sides and measured (length, width, thickness). Furthermore they were sawn into two similar sized pieces, both of which have been weighed again and stored separately into sterilised double labelled cup containers for further DNA analyses. In the next step, the first batch of bone samples (sample halves) was mechanically and chemically cleaned and subsequently powdered using a ball mill. After powder lysis and demineralisation DNA was extracted. The amount of DNA was determined using a real-time DNA quantification method (Niederstätter et al 2007, Bauer et al 2013). The mitochondrial DNA control region was analysed according to (Berger and Parson, 2009).

Positive and negative controls were used through-out the process.


Photos 1 and 2: Photo-documentation of the shipment contents 

1 2


Photo 3: Sample cup container



Photo 4: Sample container with the sample



Photo 5: Inner surface



 Photo 6: Outer surface



Photo 7: Left cut end



Photo 8: Right cut end



Photo 9: Bone sample halving



Photo 10: Mechanical cleaning



Photo 11: Chemical cleaning


Photo 12: Grinding by means of a bone mill


Photo 13: The hybridization oven for demineralisation of bone powder


Photo 14: DNA extraction


Photo 15: DNA extract


December 19th, 2013

Want to learn something about taphonomy?

A couple of years ago I wrote a paper as part of the requirements for my PhD. That paper discusses the importance of taking taphonomy into account when studying human remains¬†from an archaeological context. I have made some changes to the original paper and changed it into an article format, but as this article is not likely to be published, I’ve decided to make it available on this blog.

If you’re not sure what taphonomy is, here’s the definition used in this paper: “Taphonomy was first described as an own field of study by Efremov in 1940 and was defined as ‚Äúthe science of the laws of embedding‚ÄĚ and referred to the study of what happens to an organism from death to fossilisation. In the strictest sense of the word, taphonomy is thus devoted to the analysis of post-mortem processes affecting organic remains, but in archaeological terms the definition has been extended to include, not only living organisms, but all materials and can be said to be the study of the transformation of materials into the archaeological record (Bahn, 1992:489).”

The discussion in this is article is entirely concerned with the taphonomy affecting the human body and skeleton.

If you’re interested, enjoy.

Use this link to download the article: Osteo- and funerary archaeology The influence of taphonomy – For blog


November 13th, 2013

Some plans for the autumn

It’s been a while since my last post but¬†my excuse is that is has been a quiet summer and there haven’t been any major developments in the project. That said, I haven’t had my vacation yet and have actually¬†spent much of the summer in the office, so a few things have been done.¬†An article and a book chapter have been finished and hopefully this will be published in not too long. Probably not until the first half of next year though, things take time. Otherwise I’ve done some reading about immigration in the middle ages,¬†and done different¬†preparations for the autumn. Contrary to normal, I have a somewhat busy autumn ahead of me with a¬†fair bit¬†of travelling. I will be giving two talks about my project, one in Innsbruck at the GMI and one in Oslo. The talk in Oslo is part of an initiative by the Norwegian Research Council where they want the SAMKUL research to reach a wider audience by offering talks at¬†different ministry departments. The idea is that a department can choose from a list of SAMKUL topics to be presented to them when they¬†find it appropriate. I have signed up for this initiative, so now it’s only to see if anyone books a talk about my immigration project. Otherwise, I’ll be going to Denmark to do the last of the enamel sampling, to Madrid with the institute, and to London for a seminar. I¬†will probably¬†write about these¬†different events when the time comes. It should be a¬†good autumn and I’m also¬†hoping the first¬†analysis results will come in during the coming months, something I’m very much looking forward to.

But first I’m off to Italy¬†for three weeks with the family. The panama is packed and I’m praying for some¬†sun and¬†better temperatures.

September 4th, 2013
Immigration and mobility in mediaeval and post-mediaeval Norway
Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, University of Bergen
E-mail: stian.hamre@ahkr.uib.no