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Wayland: An Essay on Craft Production in the Early and High Middle Ages in Scandinavia

Johan Callmer

Centrality – Regionality, pp. 337-361.

Although the development of craft production largely follows an evolutionary pattern from simple to complex, it is necessary to differentiate between crafts requiring exclusive, profound knowledge and high skills, and crafts which are mainly a specialization of the kind of production normally pursued in a self-sufficient household. A characteristic feature of some highly qualified crafts in this period is that local demand is at such a low level that permanent local production is improbable. The solution to this problem of maintaining a very high level through frequent work is mobility, either permanent or during parts of the year. The crafts that are interesting in this connection are fine smithing, weapon smithing, casting and working of bronze, gold and silver, glass working and combmaking. The problematic relationship between the local power elite and the skilled craftsman is epitomized in the saga of Wayland. The political elite had to accept the relative freedom of the craftsman. Some of these crafts continued in the urban communities of the 11th century and later. They made up the core of the medieval urban craftsmen.

Johan Callmer, Institut für Geschichtswissenschaften, Ur- und Frühgeschichte, Hausvogteiplatz 5–7, D-10117 Berlin, Deutschland

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