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This is a short, English version of my web page. Focus is on my archaeological research about horses and horsemanship in Late Iron Age Scandinavia (c 375 - 1060 AD). 

This site also contains a presentation of my first novel. 


News are published in the blog. Most updates are in Swedish, but when relevant posts are written in English. Look for the tag 'English'.

Horses and archaeology combined


As a young student, I was more or less convinced that I would spend my career within a sphere of literature, maybe find work at a publishing house. But i needed one more subject before I started working on my candidate thesis, so I signed up for a one year course in archaeology. And my life was changed forever. I was not too keen the first semester, but when we moved into the Iron Age and I for the first time laid my eyes on VikingAge bits and spurs, I was hooked. I realised that ancient horsemanship was a research field that was little explored, at least from horse people within Scandinavian archaeology. Much that was written was about measurements and ornaments, but less about the co-operation between man and horse from a rider's view. Taken into consideration that Scandinavia, thanks to the custom of laying down horses and tack in graves and late acceptance of Christianity has outstanding, archaeological material, the research opportunities should be plenty.    

This was something I wanted to do. I am forever grateful to my tutors (Anne-Sofie and Frands, if you ever read this, it is about you!) at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Uppsala who let me go ahead and do my research the way I wanted. This was not something that could be taken for granted back then, in the 1990s. My doctoral thesis Hästarnas land. Aristokratisk hästhållning och ridkonst i Svealands yngre järnålder (English: 

The Land of the Horses. Aristocratic Horsemanship and Riding in Late Iron Age Svealand) was finished in 2001. 


Today the field of equestrian, interdisciplinary research is developing rapidly. I have spent much of my career in the world of contract archaeology and done my research on my spare time, having limited time to keep myself updated and go to congresses. But with the pandemic things got digital and I found seminars and networks online. Today, I am entertaining hope for finding some fundings for yet another project about these magnificent animals and their long history with humans. However, for the moment, I am busy with my first novel that will be released very soon. Yes - it is set in the Viking Age and horses do play a part in the plot. It is written in Swedish, but a short introduction in English is found further down. You will also find some examples of my research in English, so keep scrolling!

My thesis is out of print. I am working on a new, updated, more popular version - Vikingarnas hästar (English: The horses of the Vikings). However, for anyone who wants to read the thesis, which has English abstract, summary and captions, I have uploded it on my Academia page.  

The Horses of the Bayeux Tapestry

Historical Practices in Horsemanship and Equestrian Sports. 

Part of the Rewriting Equestrian History series.

Editors: Anastasija Ropa & Timothy Dawson

Trivent Publishing, Budapest



Sundkvist, A. 2022. The Horses of the Bayeux Tapestry. Where the Art of Roman Riding Meets the Middle Ages. In: Ropa, A. & Dawson, T. (eds). Historical Practices in Horsemanship and Equestrian Sports. Trivent Publishing. Budapest. 

Did you know that the art of classical dressage started already in antiquity? When studying Imperial Roman monuments such as Trajan's column, it is evident that moves known from historic paintings and today's preserver of classical riding existed already in the Roman era.


With help from art and archaeology, we can follow the schooling of war horses from antiquity into the Middle Ages. In 1066 William, duke of Normandy conquered England. Key to his success was his cavalry - knights mounted on well-schooled horses, preferably of Iberian ancestry. They were all brought across the English channel in ships, constructed in the same way as the long ships that brought William's Viking ancestor Rollo to Normandy five generations earlier. But the art of riding of the Normans had continental rather than Scandinavian roots. 


The horses, their riders and the art of riding of the era were documented less than two decades after the battle of Hastings on the Bayeux Tapestry, one of the finest example of Medieval art. The 202 horses and mules visible in the tapestry is the material for this study. 

The Equestrian Context of Sösdala

The Sösdala Horsemen and the equestrian elite of fifth century Europe.

Eds: Charlotte Fabech & Ulf Näsman

Aarhus University Press


Sundkvist, A. 2017. East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet? The Equestrian Context of Sösdala. Pp 205-219. 

For a long time, I have studied how the art of Imperial Roman riding is depicted on Trajan's column and the column of Marcus Aurelius in Rome. This work, yet to be published, has made me seek further back in history. When I was invited to write an article about the style of riding in the 5th century based in the Sösdala finds, I was delighted. 

About the book:

Sösdala is a famous name in European archaeology of the Migration Period. But the fame of the name has thrown the find itself in deep shade. This is surprising since it contains mounts from an exquisitely decorated parade bridle, the closest parallels to which are found in Austria, Poland, Romania and Ukraine. The craftsmanship equals the best Late Roman metalwork.


The content of the Sösdala finds reveal that Scandinavians were involved in the turmoil when the Late Roman Empire disintegrated. The context, depositions of dismantled horse tack in gravel ridges, is explainable with reference to Nomadic funerary rituals following the burial of prominet horsemen.


This book, based on new scholarly studies and scientific analyses, contains full catalogues of three finds of horse tack, three bridles and fourteen saddles. In seventeen papers a European team of scholars place Sosdala in its European setting. The papers in English have resumes and captions in Russian.

My article is available on my Academia page, but for anyone interested in Iron Age horses the full book is a must. 

Settlement archaeology

Re-imagining Periphery. Archaeology and Text in Northern Europe from Iron Age to Viking and Early Medieval periods

Eds: Charlotta Hillerdal & Kristin Ilves

Oxbow Books


Eklund, S. & Sundkvist, A. 2020. The Tale of three Tuna Sites. A Classic scholarlyproblem enlightened by new archaeological material

I would not mind spending my entire life writing about Iron Age horses, but I do have to make a living. As a field archaeologist, I have worked with Iron Age settlements since the 1990s. This article is an example of material from contract archaeology being brought into academic publication.

About the book:

This edited volume delves into the current state of Iron Age and Early Medieval research in the North. Over the last two decades of archaeological explorations, theoretical vanguards, and introduction of new methodological strategies, together with a growing amount of critical studies in archaeology taking their stance from a multidisciplinary perspective, have dramatically changed our understanding of Northern Iron Age societies. The profound effect of 6th century climatic events on social structures in Northern Europe, a reintegration of written sources and archaeological material, genetic and isotopic studies entirely reinterpreting previously excavated grave material, are but a few examples of such land winnings. The aim of this book is to provide an intense and cohesive focus on the characteristics of contemporary Iron Age research; explored under the subheadings of field and methodology, settlement and spatiality, text and translation, and interaction and impact. Gathering the work of leading, established researchers and field archaeologists based throughout northern Europe and in the frontline of this new emerging image, this volume provides a collective summary of our current understandings of the Iron Age and Early Medieval Era in the North. It also facilitates a renewed interaction between academia and the ever-growing field of infrastructural archaeology, by integrating cutting edge fieldwork and developing field methods in the corpus of Iron Age and Early Medieval studies. In this book, many hypotheses are pushed forward from their expected outcomes, and analytical work is not afraid of taking risks, thus advancing the field of Iron Age research, and also, hopefully, inspiring to a continued creation of new knowledge.

Moving into historical fiction


For years, I was thinking about trying to write fiction. But I always thought I would not be able to put the story together. Once I started, I realised that my real challenge was to tell the story and to write it in a language very different from the academic I was so used to. It took time, but now I am pretty pleased with the result. My novel Ensam red hon ut (English translation: Alone, she rode - but if the novel ever will be translated, the title will be different. It works well in Swedish, but I am not particular fond of the English translation) is about to be released. 

The plot is set in the early Viking Period, the 780s. Horses do play an important part in the book. So many people are interested in horses and still fiction involving horses on a more personal level is not very common. 

About the book (translated by me, sorry for errors):

One early spring morning in the year of 784, Adalin is looking at the smoking ruins of what used to be her home. Yesterday she was the beloved daughter of one of the king's men. Today she is alone, an outlaw and on the run. Where to? Maybe Francia, the land of her long dead mother? But Adalin has no idea how to find her Frankish family. Oswald, a young man from the British Islands, becomes her saviour. Once in his country, Adalin tries build up a new life. But has she really escaped the threat of death?

This is the story of a woman. It is about her love of her horses and her quest to rule her own life in a time of violence, power struggle and honour culture. But also a time of friendship, love and desire. An era today known as the Viking Age. 

Clic the button to watch the trailer. 

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