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Bonde, leilending eller husmann?
En studie av bosetningsenheter fra tidlig- og høymiddelalder i Sør-Rogaland
Hovedfagsoppgave i arkeologi med vekt på Norden. Universitetet i Bergen, Høsten 1997

NINA ELISABETH INGEBRETSEN

Abstract

Ingebretsen, N.E. 2009: Freeholder, tenant farmer or cotter? A study of agrarian
settlement units from the Early and High Middle Ages in South-Rogaland, Norway.
www.Jenny-Rita.org, Stavanger, Norway.

(Dissertation for cand. philol. in Archaeology 1997, University of Bergen1)

Social structure in the countryside of South-Rogaland in the Early and High Middle Ages
(AD 1050-1350) is the focus of research. The society was differentiated, and three social
groups of freeholders, tenant farmers and cotters are defined in the study. Attempts are made
to correlate the groups with the physical traces of medieval farm settlements in South-
Rogaland. In general fossil farm constructions in Rogaland are mostly dated to the Late
Roman Age/Migration Period (AD 150-550), but some settlements also occurred in later
periods. Eleven farm constructions were selected for the study. Six of these sites were
archaeologically investigated in the first half of the 20th century, and the remaining five sites
were only registered and described. The criteria for classification of the farm sites are dating,
size, location, farm names and written sources which comprise information about the
settlement at the site. It appeared to be difficult to identify freeholders and tenant farmers in
the archaeological material. The smallest sites were interpreted as a form of early cotter sites.
These smallest settlement sites which have been neglected in previous research have been
discovered on the basis of this analysis. A hypothesis is that they are related to the disruption
of the slave system, perhaps as ‘løysingbosetninger’, i.e. the holdings of freed slaves (thralls),
but with the function a cotter’s farm had in later periods. This hidden system may to a certain
extent have existed side by side with the institutionalised system of tenant farmers throughout
the Middle Ages. The smallest settlement units could reflect a layer of the population who
were not included in the socio-economical system which the tenant farmers represented.

Nina Elisabeth Ingebretsen, University of Stavanger, Museum of Archaeology, N-4036
STAVANGER, NORWAY. Telephone: (+47) 51832654. Telefax: (+47) 51832699.
Email: nina.e.ingebretsen@uis.no or n.e.ingebretsen@gmail.com

Key words: freeholder, tenant farmer, cotter, freed slave, agrarian settlement, Early and High
Middle Ages, South-Rogaland, Norway

See also:
Ingebretsen, N.E. 1999a: Ødegårder fra middelalderen som kilde til tolkning av sosial og
økonomisk lagdeling. AmS-Rapport 11B, 355-365
Ingebretsen, N.E. 1999b: Spor etter middelalderens husmenn? Frà haug ok heidni 2, 16-19.
Ingebretsen, N.E. 1999c: Middelalderbosetningen på Hanaland. Frà haug ok heidni 3, 21-27.

1) There have been some minor adjustments in relation to the approved thesis.


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