Towards the Making of a Town and Its Inhabitants: A study of Urbanity as Practice and Lifeform in Early and High Medieval Copenhagen

The main aim of the project is to analyse the early urban development of Copenhagen from c. 1050 to c. 1300 through a view of urbanity as practice. The first steps towards the established town are very much unknown but important in understanding the further course of urban development and the inception of an urban way of life. Recent excavations at the Town Hall Square in central Copenhagen have produced material evidence, giving new insight into the early phases of the settlement. This project will use the new source material to explore which activities, agents and networks have been important in the early urbanisation process.

At a more general level, it will investigate what information about urbanity can come from of studying everyday-practices and, with Copenhagen as a case study, add to the discussion of how to understand early urbanism through material culture. The project also aims to significantly add to the understanding of the chronology and character of early Copenhagen and, in doing so, refine and revise the narrative of the formation and early development of the town and its inhabitants. The thesis of the project is that urbanity should be seen and understood as social practice undertaken by people active in the town. Networks and mobility of people, things and ideas are key aspects, which have influenced the developing urban life, and those aspects will be in focus within the project.

Four domains have been identified as useful for the project; these are based on the empirical source material at hand and have been chosen because they hold great potential to contribute to the main questions, perspectives and goals of the project. The four areas are Craft and production, Infrastructure and organisation of space, Households and consumption and Cemeteries and their people. They can individually contribute with pieces to the larger mosaic, and seen together, they can provide information relating to urban activity, construction of the social space, everydaypractices, actors and networks.

PI: PhD student Hanna Dahlström