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In 2017 the network held a conference at Stockholm University:

Grave disturbance in early medieval Europe. International symposium 2017

Thursday 12th January 2017

Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University

One of the most intriguing chapters in early medieval archaeology is an outbreak of grave disturbance which stretched from Hungary to England, peaking in the 7th century AD. Thousands of recent burials were reopened and rifled, with grave-goods and human remains removed or scattered. Traditionally labelled as grave-robbery, this early reopening has been recognised since the 19th century, but until recently little comparative work had been carried out between sites or regions, and there was almost no systematic research into its causes.

Now this has changed: substantive empirical research is being carried out in England, Germany, France, the Low Countries, and Austria. Results so far include significant new findings about the date, extent, and nature of the practice. We can now see that this is by no means straightforward robbing for material gain. Understanding reopening can shed new light on burial rituals themselves: new interpretations explore attitudes to death, decay, commemoration, possessions, and ancestors.

This will be the first conference on the fascinating phenomenon of Merovingian-period grave disturbance since 1977. With the support of Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, the symposium will bring together researchers working on reopening evidence in five areas of early medieval Europe, plus an advisory panel of scholars based in Europe and the US.


On Thursday 12th January the talks will be open to the interested public.
The symposium will run from 09:00 to 17:00.

The full program can now be downloaded here.


The symposium will take place in the main seminar room on the entrance floor (Floor 3) of the Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University. For a map and detailed directions please see the department website.

Lunch venues

Tea, coffee, and light refreshments will be served during the morning and afternoon breaks, but lunch is not provided. A range of cafés and restaurants can be found on the university campus or nearby.

There is also a student kitchen in the department (on the same floor as the conference room) where you can eat sandwiches or warm food in microwaves.

Travel links

Flygbussarna (Airport Coaches)

Stockholms Lokaltrafik (SL) for underground, buses, boats etc.


For more information, please contact Dr Alison Klevnäs (


Dr Edeltraud Aspöck, Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria

Dr Alison Klevnäs
Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden

Martine C. van Haperen
Faculty of Archaeology, Department of Provincial Roman and Medieval Archaeology, Leiden University, Netherlands

Astrid Noterman
Centre for Medieval Studies (CESCM), University of Poitiers, France

Dr Stephanie Zintl
Bayerisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege
Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften, Abteilung frühgeschichtliche Archäologie und Archäologie des Mittelalters, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg i. Br, Germany

Discussion panel

Professor Dawn Hadley, Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield, UK
Dr Catherine Hills, University of Cambridge, UK
Dr Liv Nilsson Stutz, Department of Anthropology, Emory University, US
Dr Estella Weiss-Krejci, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria
Dr Nils Müller-Scheeßel, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany
Dr Fredrik Ekengren, Lund University, Sweden