Cecilia Ljung


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Works at Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies
Telephone 08-16 42 62
Visiting address Wallenberglaboratoriet, Lilla Frescativägen 7
Room 451
Postal address Institutionen för arkeologi och antikens kultur 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Cecilia Ljung (born 1978) has been affiliated with the department of Archaeology and Classical Studies as a postdoctoral researcher since 2016. She completed her PhD at Stockholm University in May 2016. Her thesis Under runristad häll. Tidigkristna gravmonument i 1000-talets Sverige (Resting under rune-inscribed stones. Early Christian grave monuments in eleventh century Sweden) investigates the emergence of Christian cemeteries and the development of a new religious and socio-political landscape in the transition between the Viking Age and the medieval period. She has been a visiting scholar at the Department of Archaeology, University of Reading in 2009 and has a master’s degree in Archaeology as well as in Viking and Early Medieval Studies from Uppsala University. She has a background within contract archaeology and has worked at Societas Archaeologica Upsaliensis (SAU), the National Heritage Board and Sigtuna Museum. 

She has together with PhD Marjolein Stern initiated the interdisciplinary, international research network Runes, Monuments and Memorial Carvings (RMMC):

Research interests:

  • The Viking Age and the medieval period
  • Early medieval stone sculpture (ex. runestones, early Christian grave monuments)
  • The Christianisation of Scandinavia
  • Burial archaeology
  • Urban archaeology

Ongoing research  

She is currently working within the project Skärningspunkt Sigtuna – de första människorna i Sveriges äldsta stad (Intersection Sigtuna - the first people in Sweden's oldest town) in collaboration with Associate Professor Torun Zachrisson and Associate Professor Anna Kjellström. The research project runs during 2017-2019 and is sponsored by The Swedish Research Council. The project aims to understand the early town as a living space by studying the people who lived and died there. The main source material comprises of ca 330 investigated graves from the town’s foundation AD970/80 until 1100. These derive both from so-called graveyards (sw. gravgård), cemeteries with Christian burials but without church buildings, and from the oldest churchyards. Different kinds of burial places were partly in use simultaneously and it is unclear how the buried individuals relate to each other; what kind of social, cultural and religious communities they represent. The main objective of the project is to understand urbanization, migration, cultural relations between groups and people, and the early church organization, as well as networks and transnational relations.



A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Cecilia Ljung. Medieval Archaeology 63 (1), 154-190

    The emergence of churchyards is one of the most significant transformations of the landscapeduring the conversion to Christianity. This article examines changes in burial and commemorative practicesduring the 11th century, based on early Christian grave monuments. These are the first examples ofchurchyard memorials in central Sweden, yet at the same time they also form an integral part of the lateViking-Age runestone tradition. This article presents an analysis of their temporal, regional and contextualbackgrounds, tracing developments in the early ecclesiastical landscape. It is concluded that differentregional designs of rune-carved funerary monuments are related to substantial differences in theChristianisation process, reflecting variation in early ecclesiastical organisation and providing insight intohow the conversion process was related to social and political structures.

  • Book (ed) Tidens landskap
    2019. Cecilia Ljung (et al.).
  • 2019. Cecilia Ljung. Tidens landskap, 183-185
  • 2017. Torun Zachrisson, Cecilia Ljung, Kjellström Anna.

    This article presents a new research project: Skärningspunkt Sigtuna – de första människorna i Sveriges äldsta stad (Intersection Sigtuna – th  first inhabitants of Sweden’s oldest town), which runs from 2017 to 2020 and is sponsored by  the Swedish Research Council.  The project aims to understand cultural transformation in the town’s earliest periods by studying the people who lived and died there.  The main source material comprises c. 330 excavated graves dating from the town’s foundation in AD 970/80 until AD 1100.  These derive both from five early churchyards as well as so-called “graveyards” (Sw. gravgård) – where individuals were buried in accordance with Christian practice, but not in the proximity of a church building.  These early “graveyards” are unique to Scandinavia, but the phenomenon has yet to be subjected to in-depth analysis. Different kinds of burial grounds were partly in use simultaneously in Sigtuna and it is unclear how the interred individuals relate to one another, or what kind of social, cultural and religious communities they represent.

    The project combines archaeological and osteological data with regard to burial-place topography and location, burial custom including grave goods and relation to rune- inscribed stone monuments, isotopic analysis and ancient DNA- analysis of selected individuals. Sigtuna’s material culture in general indicates that it was a cosmopolitan town.  The project will extend our knowledge in this regard by focusing on the backgrounds of the  first generations of town dwellers. Our main objective is to understand urbanization, migration, cultural interaction between groups and individuals, early church organization, networks and transnational relations.

  • Thesis (Doc) Under runristad häll
    2016. Cecilia Ljung (et al.).

    This thesis examines transformations in burial and commemorative practices during the late Viking Age and early Middle Ages based on early Christian grave monuments (in sw. often named Eskilstunakistor); the first examples of churchyard memorials known in south central Sweden. The designs of these monuments range from stone cists consisting of five slabs - one lid, two sides and two gables - which stood above ground, to simpler constructions such as recumbent slabs with or without head- and foot-stones. Early Christian grave monuments share several characteristics with runestones, including the commemorative formula of the runic inscription as well as ornamentation in Ringerike or Urnes style. An important premise of the study is that they constitute an integral part of the late Viking Age runestone tradition. Sune Lindqvist’s 1915 dissertation gave the first systematic survey of the early Christian grave monuments; however the material has not been the subject of a new compilation since then. The thesis therefore comprises a complete overview of the material, which is presented in a separate catalogue volume.

    The thesis analyses the temporal, regional and contextual background of the early Christian grave monuments in order to understand the emergence of Christian cemeteries and a new religious and socio-political landscape in the transition between the Viking Age and the medieval period. This objective is divided into two levels that correspond with the two main analytical chapters. The first explores the chronology of the early Christian grave monuments, their relationship to the raising of runestones, as well as to changes in late Viking Age burial customs. The second concerns the actual sites where early Christian grave monuments were once erected. The social context of these places, as well as their significance for the emerging ecclesiastical organisation, is investigated using archaeological material contemporary with the grave monuments.

    The results show that early Christian grave monuments are found in areas with an early runestone period, where swift and profound changes in burial traditions take place resulting in a uniform Christian practice, together with an early church formation. It is argued that both secular and ecclesiastical authority was required to impose and maintain these major transformations. The analyses of the church sites with early Christian grave monuments, as well as of the monuments themselves, demonstrate the presence of such a social strata. Moreover, it is concluded that the basis of the ecclesiastical landscape was established from the early eleventh century. Finally the conclusions of the thesis and their implications for the understanding of the runestone tradition and its relation to the Christianisation process are discussed. The varying designs of rune-carved monuments signify substantial differences in the Christianisation process: in the way burial and commemoration was practiced during the eleventh century, whether Christian life was centrally controlled, or more decentralized with opportunities for personal choices and practices. It is argued that the diversity within the runestone tradition demonstrates differences in the early ecclesiastical organisation and provides insight into how the Christianisation process was related to social and political structures.

  • 2014. Cecilia Ljung. Futhark 5, 151-169

    This paper discusses the use of the term hvalf  as a monument descriptor in Swedish runic inscriptions with special focus on its first appearance, connotations and historical context. The main emphasis lies on the word itself and its relationship to early Christian grave monuments (also known as Eskilstuna cists). Evidence for the use of hvalf  suggests that the term was employed to denote grave monuments as early as the first part of the eleventh century. Parallels in ornamentation and design link some of the Swedish funerary monuments referred to as hvalf to a small set of stones carved with Ringerikestyle ornamentation in England. It is argued that these groups of carved stones indicate reciprocal influence between Scandinavian and English burial and memorial traditions.

  • 2012. Cecilia Ljung, Susanne Thedéen. N-Tag Ten, 9-18

    The immediate surrounding and use of the space close to rune stones has with few exceptions been studied. Runic inscriptions commemorate diseased relatives but the creation of the memorial may also have evoked practices leaving material traces. The aim of this article is to explore whether other activities than carving and erecting rune stones can be linked to the practice of remembrance and the rune stone tradition. It will be discussed in what way the space and place around rune stones was created, used and possibly reused. To answer these issues we carried out a small excavation at a rune stone (U 60) in Norra Ängby, Stockholm. Based on the results of the excavation we suggest two aspects and plausible interpretations: First, the possibility of constructing an enclosed place around rune stones which may be linked to making a memorial. Second, the evidence of late Viking Age practices of remembrance at rune stones such as ritual meals, or signs of reuse during medieval periods to mark boundaries between farms. 

  • 2010. Cecilia Ljung. Situne dei. Årsskrift för Sigtunaforskning, 115-125

    An archaeological excavation undertaken in the garden of Sigtuna museum in 2008 uncovered an early Christian grave monument made of sandstone. It consisted of an undecorated rectangular lid slab without inscriptions, and two triangular gable slabs. The grave monument was found in situ and has been dated to the phase preceding the stone church and thus most probably originates from the second half of the 11th century. The sandstone monument in Sigtuna has several characteristics in common with early Christian grave monuments, so called Eskilstuna cists. This article focuses on the Sigtuna monument and discusses its relation to other sepulchral monuments in Uppland and to early Christian grave monuments in the provinces south of Lake Mälaren.

Show all publications by Cecilia Ljung at Stockholm University

Last updated: October 10, 2019

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