Stockholm university

Rolf Warming

About me

I am born and raised in Helsinki, Finland. I attained my MA (with distinction) in Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton in 2014 and another MA in Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Copenhagen in 2016. I have worked as a field archaeologist for a number of museums in Denmark and been involved in underwater archaeological investigations of unique wreck sites in the Baltic since 2014, such as Gribshunden (1495) and Mars Makalös (1564).

I am also the founding director of the Society for Combat Archaeology, an international organization committed to the advancement of knowledge about the nature of combat and conflict in the past. I have in that capacity been involved in and driven a number of projects, such as the interdisciplinary Shields and Hide project (in collaboration with School of Conservation in Copenhagen, Aarhus University and Moesgaard Museum) and the experimental archaeology project The Viking Shield (in collaboration with Trelleborg Viking Fortress/ National Museum of Denmark).

In addition to my academic education, I have also completed training as a junior officer at the Royal Danish Military Academy.

I started my PhD in February 2022 and am currently also an affiliated researcher at the Swedish Defence University. 

The PhD-project
Soldiers at Sea: Close Quarter Combat in the Fleets of Northern Europe, c.1450–1650 AD


My PhD project is a combination of Maritime Archaeology and Conflict Archaeology. It focuses on marine soldiers and close-quarter combat practices of the fleets of Northern Europe around the transition from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern period, representing the historical zenith of close-quarter combat at sea. Not only did shipbuilding achieve a previously unrivaled capacity for carrying marine infantry forces at this time (numbering sometimes 500-600 soldiers aboard a single ship); it was also a transitional period in which the tactical focus at sea began to shift from close quarter battle to heavy artillery fire, transforming the nature of naval warfare in Europe. Being at the forefront of these developments, Northern Europe merits special attention, allowing not only for a study of close-quarter combat practices but also the initial consequences of the ever more destructive technology and impersonal approach to warfare.

The aim of this project, therefore, is to assess for the first time how close quarter combat was conducted in the fleets of Northern Europe in c. 1450-1650 and how these practices were shaped by the maritime battlespace, especially in relation to changes in ship design and gunpowder technologies. The project seeks to achieve this through an empirical examination of archaeological-historical sources, particularly by using Northern European shipwrecks as case studies. Case studies include, but are not limited to, Gribshunden (1495), Mary Rose (1545), Mars Makalös (1564) and Vasa (1628).


Prof. Mats Burström, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University

Associate Professor, Niklas Eriksson, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University.

Prof. Johan Rönnby, Maritime Archaeological Research, Södertörn University.

Research interests:

Maritime archaeology, conflict archaeology, prehistoric and historical weaponry, medieval warfare, materiality, phenomenology, practice theory.


Warming, R. 2023. The Viking Age shields from the ship burial at Gokstad: a re-examination of their construction and function. Arms & Armour 20 (1): 1-24. Available here (accessed 18.04.2023):

Warming, R. 2022. "Foreword." In H. Schmidt (ed.), The Medieval and Renaissance Buckler: 8-9. Bregenz: Sofa-Books.

Warming, R. 2022. "Bucklers in Scandinavia: A Case Study." In H. Schmidt (ed.), The Medieval and Renaissance Buckler: 83-93.Bregenz: Sofa-Books.

Warming, R. 2022. "Studies of Conflict: Bridging the Gap." Conference report. The European Archaeologist 73: 43-47. Link (accessed 15.08.2022):

Warming, R. 2022. ”Havets Slagmarker: Søkrig fra Vikingetid til Renæssancen.” Essay for the special exhibition, In Smoke and Flames – the Battle in Fehmarn Belt, 1644,at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde 2021-2022. Link (accessed 19.05.2022):

Warming, R. 2021. Ringbrynja och armborst från Gribshunden (1495). In J. Rönnby (ed.), Grifun/Gribshund (1495). Marinarkeologiska undersökningar. Gribshunden (1495). Södertörn Universitet. Available here (accessed 19.05.2022):Grifun/Gribshund (1495) : Marinarkeologiska undersökningar (

Warming, R., Larsen, R., Sommer, D., Ørsted Brandt, L., Pauli Jensen, X. 2020.  “Shields and Hide: On the Use of Hide in Germanic Shields of the Iron Age and Viking Age.” Bericht der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission 97: 157-227. Available here (accessed 19.05.2022): Shields and hide. On the use of hide in Germanic shields of the Iron Age and Viking Age | Bericht der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission (

Warming, R. 2019. “An Introduction to Hand-to-Hand Combat at Sea: General Characteristics and Shipborne Technologies from c. 1210 BCE to 1600 CE”. Ch. 6 in J. Rönnby (ed.), On War on Board: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives on Warfare in the Early Modern Period:  99-124. Södertörn University. Available here (accessed 19.05.2022): On War on Board : Archaeological and historical perspectives on early modern maritime violence and warfare (

Warming, R. 2018. “Praksistilgangen i kamparkæologi: ’The Practice Approach’ og vikingetidens krigeriske praksisser.” Arkæologisk Forum 38: 15-23.

Warming, R. 2015. “On Dive Trails and Underwater Dissemination.” Skyllis, Journal for Underwater Archaeology 14(2): 172-179.

Warming, R. 2015. “I was at the Helm when PREUSSEN (1910) ran aground – a 105 Year Old Memory from Aboard the Queen of the Queens of the Seas.” Mariner’s Mirror, International Journal of the Society for Nautical Research 101(3): 323-333.

Warming, R. 2015. “I was at the Helm when Preussen Ran Aground.” In J. Found, M. Newbery & A. Salaad (eds.), Sea Lines of Communication: Construction: 9-21. University of Southampton.