Alison Klevnäs


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Works at Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies
Visiting address Wallenberglaboratoriet, Lilla Frescativägen 7
Room 449
Postal address Institutionen för arkeologi och antikens kultur 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Alison Klevnäs has been affiliated with the Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies at Stockholm University since 2012, first as a postdoctoral researcher and then as a fixed-term senior lecturer. From 2017-2019 she is co-ordinating the theme 'Materiality and the Human' in the Humanities Faculty interdisciplinary Doctoral School in the Humanities.

She completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2010, investigating Merovingian-period grave disturbance in northern and western Europe, with the main case study in Anglo-Saxon England. This was published as a monograph in 2013 in the British Archaeological Reports (BAR) International Series. Early medieval reopening remains a strong interest, and she has recently formed a research group with other scholars working on the phenomenon:

Her postdoctoral project was entitled "See the place where they laid him. Reopened chamber graves in the Migration Period of central Sweden".

Further research explores the widespread reopening of Vendel and Viking Period boat-burials in Scandinavia, with publications on the heavily disturbed boat-grave cemeteries at Gamla Uppsala and Vendel in Uppland, Sweden.

Her ongoing research interests include taphonomy, the life histories of burial places, and archaeological approaches to possessions and ownership, particularly in the context of grave finds. She is currently working on a pilot study of use-wear on early medieval glass beads, funded by the Åke Wibergs stiftelse.

From September 2018 she will be leading a project funded by Vetenskapsrådet / The Swedish Research Council entitled 'Att handskas med de döda. Tro och tvist i Europa efter Rom (450-750 e. kr.)' / 'Interacting with the dead. Belief and conflict in Early Medieval Europe (AD 450-750)'.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2016. Felix Riede, Alison Klevnäs. The European Archaeologist 49, 24-27
  • 2016. Alison Margaret Klevnäs. European Journal of Archaeology 19 (3), 456-476

    This article examines the wide range of grave disturbance practices seen in Viking-age burials across Scandinavia. It argues that the much-debated reopenings at high-profile sites, notably the Norwegian royal' mounds, should be seen against a background of widespread and varied evidence for burial reworking in Scandinavia throughout the first-millennium ad and into the Middle Ages. Interventions into Viking-age graves are interpreted as disruptive, intended to derail practices of memory-creation set in motion by funerary displays and monuments. However, the reopening and reworking of burials were also mnemonic citations in their own right, using a recurrent set of practices to make heroic, mythological, and genealogical allusions. The retrieval of portable artefacts was a key element in this repertoire, and in this article I use archaeological and written sources to explore the particular concepts of ownership which enabled certain possessions to work as material citations appropriating attributes of dead persons for living claimants.

  • Chapter Overkill
    2016. Alison Klevnäs. Limbs, bones and reopened graves in past societies
  • 2015. Alison Klevnäs. Norwegian Archaeological Review 48 (1), 1-20

    The boat-grave cemetery at Vendel, Uppland, is one of the iconic sites of first-millennium Sweden. The high-status grave-goods and weaponry have been widely displayed and studied since their discovery over 130 years ago. Yet it is rarely mentioned that the burial ground had been almost completely ransacked long before archaeologists stepped in. The celebrated finds are only a fraction of the wealth that was originally buried at the site.

    This is the first evaluation of the evidence of disturbance from Vendel since the excavations in the late 19th century. The ancient re-opening of the graves is reconstructed through the letters and diaries of the excavator, Hjalmar Stolpe, as well as the various preliminary and final reports. Evidence is presented that the main parts of the burials, notably the human bones, were systematically dug out of nearly every grave and removed from the site. The reopening probably took place during the Christianization period, before or during the construction of the nearby church in the 13th century. This is an example of the widespread reworking of monuments at this time, specifically highlighting the significance accorded to buried human remains.

  • Book (ed) Own and be owned
    2015. Alison Klevnäs, Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson.
Show all publications by Alison Klevnäs at Stockholm University

Last updated: January 30, 2019

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