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Trondheim

A large number of combs are known from late 10th to 14th-century deposits in Trondheim, with the majority coming from extensive excavations at Folkebibliotektomten (the Library site). The corpus from this site has been well studied by Flodin (1989). Flodin's analysis was undertaken with reference to the Oslo sequence earlier established by Wiberg (1977; 1979; 1987).

The range of types recorded from Trondheim and the surrounding Trøndelag region is relatively limited, although the variation within types is considerable. As we have seen, combs of typical Viking-Age form (and Type 5 in particular) are important as spot finds from graves and other contexts outside the city, but in Trondheim itself Type 5 combs are poorly represented: there are no examples from the Library site, and the author's personal survey failed to identify examples from elsewhere in the city.

Instead, the types represented are 6 (in small numbers), 9, 13, 14a and 14b. Flodin's analysis, together with the revised chronology presented by Christophersen and Nordeide (1994), allows some investigation of the sequential development of Types 9 and 13, but the internal chronological sequences of the many variants of these types remain unclear. While some hints at chronology are possible when one compares collections from Bergen, Oslo, and Trondheim (see Ashby 2006, ch. 6), systematic comparison has yet to be undertaken on any scale. For this reason, the classification developed by Wiberg and used by Flodin is not applied herein.

It is likely that the majority of Trondheim's combs were manufactured in the town itself, but near-identical forms are common across the Norse-influenced world between the late 10th and 14th centuries, with centres of manufacture at Oslo, Bergen, Lund, Sigtuna, Schleswig, and Novgorod. At the Library site (from where Trondheim's key comb sequence derives), poor preservation in the uppermost layers renders quantitative data unreliable from the mid-14th century onward, but combs are important in all levels from the 10th century and later.

Double-sided combs (Type 13) are less numerous than single-sided types (Type 9), though this is understandable given their shorter period of currency within the overall chronology of the Library site. Type 14a one-piece double-sided combs are present from the 11th century at Trondheim, but are rare (Long 1975, 21). Double-sided examples that are demonstrably composite in construction (i.e. Type 13) first appear in phase 6 (mid-12th century), and they become most important in the 13th century. A range of variants are present, identifiable by their diverse endplate profiles and range of decorative riveting techniques, and again the chronology is complex.

 

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