Body Images in Iron and Viking Age Scandinavia

Qualification: PhD

Department: Archaeology and Ancient History

Application deadline: 10 December 2021 (Interviews 13-14 January 2022)

Start date: 1 February 2022 (or as soon as possible thereafter)



Dr Marianne Hem Eriksen

Project description;

The ERC funded project ‘Body-Politics: Personhood, Sexuality and Death in Iron and Viking Age Scandinavia’, based at the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester, explores the politics of late prehistoric Scandinavia (here: first millennium CE) through the battleground of the body, combining archaeological evidence, bioarchaeological methods, material culture and textual analyses to answer fundamental questions about the nature of bodies and beings in the past.  You can find more about the project at

The PhD Researcher will develop and conduct a programme of research on images of the body in Iron and Viking Age Scandinavia (e.g. gold foil figures, bracteates, depictions on runestones and picture stones, figurines, animal styles, etc.). 

This research will seek to explore Iron and Viking Age Scandinavian societies using depictions of bodies: for example investigating personhood, sexuality, social performance and body technology. You will design a research agenda in collaboration with the project PI (Dr Marianne Hem Eriksen, who will be your primary supervisor), and there is scope to tailor the research to your own interests. Example research questions could include:

How did depictions of the body regulate or shape the life-course and outlooks of diverse persons in the Viking age?
What kinds of bodies are depicted in body imagery (male/female/ambiguous, old/young, conventionally or otherwise able) and how did representations and omissions shape politics in Iron and Viking Age communities?
How were figural objects made, used, circulated, and deposited?
How do dimensions of body depictions like posture, dress/ornamentation, and activity relate to social dynamics?

You will take a lead in shaping your research agenda, deliverable within the time constraints of PhD studies, that will complement other team members’ activities in the project. As part of your PhD project, you will collate data on anthropomorphic imagery in a project database, as well as analyses of that data, and the writing of a PhD dissertation. You will be encouraged and supported to present your work at academic conferences; to be involved in collaborative authorship of project publications with other PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and the PI; and ultimately to publish your work as lead author. As part of your PhD studies you will have opportunities to seek experience, e.g. potentially in public dissemination of research, organisation of academic conferences and meetings, teaching in higher education, and similar, in alignment with your own aspirations and possibilities open in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History.

The PhD studentship may include some travel for artefact studies.

We endeavour to be inclusive and flexible regarding applicants with caring obligations, disabilities and other considerations.






This 3-year ERC Studentship provides:

  • UK/International tuition fee waiver
  • Annual Stipend of £16,500
  • Research allowance (for books, conferences etc,) to be used in discussion with PI

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

  • UK bachelor's degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or international equivalent.
  • Strong master's degree in archaeology or a closely related discipline
  • Previous study of either late prehistoric / early medieval northern Europe, OR approaches to art, images and the body in archaeology or a closely related discipline
  • University of Leicester English language requirements apply (where applicable)

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries

Project enquiries:

Application enquiries:

How to apply

How to apply

To apply, please use the 'Apply'  button at the bottom of the page and select January 2022 from the dropdown menu.

With your application, please include:

  • CV
  • Degree certiifcates and transcripts
  • Details of any study currently being undertaken
  • Covering letter including a brief personal statement outlining your background and motivation (2 pages max.)
  • Research proposal including preliminary research objectives and questions, theoretical framework, and training goals (i.e. skills you would like to develop). You may include references to the literature; please reference fully in any common standard format. Please review the specification of the role within the Body-Politics project (above) and consider how your proposed research fits within the objectives outlined there . This proposal is to help define your interests and approach to the role; there will be opportunities for the successful candidate to refine their research plans in the early months of their PhD work, with the help of senior project members. (3 pages max., excluding bibliography)
  • Enter contact details of two academic referees in the boxes provided or upload reference letters if already obtained
  • Evidence of English language if applicable
  • In the funding section, please specify that you wish to be considered for the ERC RA11G0458 studentship project and include the name of the project supervisor



UK or international applicant who meets the academic entry requirements.

Desirable (non-essential) skills include:

  • Previous research experience with the periods, areas and/or themes of the Body-Politics project
  • Research experience working with imagery as archaeological evidence.
  • Ability to read a Scandinavian language, or aptitude to learn.