PhD scholarship – Warrior life and combat technologies – a study of the Viking Age arms race, ringfortress, and comparable fortifications

Ansøgningsfrist: 20/03/2023

The National Museum of Denmark announces a call for a PhD scholarship to begin on the 1st of September 2023 in Viking Age research with a focus on the warrior’s life and combat technologies combined with the arms race, the emergence of the ringfortresses, and other fortifications.  

Areas of work

The PhD scholarship is associated with The National Museum’s Department of Prehistory, Middle Ages and Renaissance, and the Trelleborg Viking Fortress. The purpose of the PhD scholarship is to create new knowledge about the military life of warriors during the Viking Age, which is investigated through empirical studies of weapon types, war strategies, and experimental close combat associated within a reconstructed Trelleborg fortress together with other defensive structures.

The aim of these ground-breaking studies is to reinterpret the function of the 10th century AD novel types of weapon innovations together with the advances within defensive fortification systems, the emergence of the ringfortresses, and urbanization in South Scandinavia. The goal of the PhD scholarship is to discuss the transformation of Viking Age warriors going from structured tribal societies towards a state formation with a royal elite. The applicant is proposed to study military life within three levels within these societies:

  • The warrior’s equipment together with the usage and acquisition of combat technologies
  • Various defensive fortifications like the ringfortresses and defensive systems surrounding the emerging urban centres such as Ribe, Aarhus, or Hedeby
  • Social structures in which the warriors were organized      

The PhD scholarship should focus on various selected subjects:

  • The interaction between the emergence of new weapon types (Dane axes, developed cavalry equipment, and novel types of shields) and the use of these through reconstructed experiments
  • Fortifications strategies that absorb and respond to new weapon technologies and combat technologies (such as cavalry and defensive systems against this strategy)
  • Identification of new cultural and social values in the Viking Age elite society through empirical studies of elite burials containing weapon and cavalry equipment
  • European influences of the early monarchy and its significance in the 10th-century advances and innovations of the army units and fortifications in South Scandinavia
  • Integrate European written and iconographic sources
  • Incorporate combat techniques together with the acquisition of movement patterns within other modern fields like sports or crafts combined with various learning theories and 3D documentation and recordings of simulated combat situations

The experimental-archaeological attempts will be completed on the reconstructed ringfortress of Trelleborg, where one of the tasks is to evaluate the interpretations of the ringfortress and its defensive systems and/or how such a fortress could be attacked. All these subjects lead to a number of unsolved questions and proposed hypotheses, which, based on the archaeological data and written records, should be unfolded in the project application. It is also expected that it should contain research design and plan, as well as specific theoretical, methodological, and dissemination approaches. A special emphasis should also include a plan for the designs of the combat technical experiments.


The PhD scholarship will be integrated within a strong research cluster focusing on the Viking Age in the Department of Prehistory, Middle Ages and Renaissance, which has initiated several ground-breaking research projects including the future construction of the recreated ringfortress at Trelleborg, where a part of the fortress will be reconstructed in full scale. The PhD scholarship will be hosted at the Department of Prehistory, Middle Ages and Renaissance and the ringfortress at Trelleborg, where the co-supervisors are positioned. The main supervisor must be positioned at a Danish university, and the project will be affiliated with and the candidate enrolled at this university. See more about the current research at The National Museum’s web:


Applicants, who hold a Master’s degree or similar within a relevant subject such as archaeology, history, anthropology or similar subjects, or who expect to receive a Master’s degree before 20th of March 2023 can be awarded a three-year PhD scholarship. Applicants should at the time of submission have submitted their MA thesis, and as a minimum hold a letter of pre-approval.

The applicant should be curious, and have the will to integrate within collegial as well as interdisciplinary communities. Experience in museum research, experimental archaeology, and dissemination to the general public is considered to be an advantage.

Since the primary working language at the National Museum is Danish, non-Danish-speaking applicants are expected to acquire the necessary Danish language skills within a short period of time (max. two years).

Salary and terms of employment

The PhD scholarship is a time-limited scientific position. The employment period is three years and the weekly working time is 37 hours a week. Salary and terms of employment occur pursuant the collective agreement between the Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC).

The PhD scholar is expected to be enrolled in a PhD School of the applicant’s own choosing. Besides the research part, the scholarship contains an educational part (6 months), and teaching and dissemination obligations (6 months). The last part will be divided between the university and Trelleborg Viking Fortress, where it is the intention that the research and results from this PhD project will be disseminated.

The place of employment is The National Museum, the Department of Prehistory, Middle Ages and Renaissance, Frederiksholms Kanal 12, DK 1220 Kbh. K, and the compulsory work will take place at Trelleborg Viking Fortress, Trelleborg Allé 4, Hejninge, 4200 Slagelse.

Expected starting time is 1st of September 2023.


The National Museum works actively for equality among employees and therefore encourages all qualified people, regardless of personal background, to apply for the position. The application should contain the following:

  • A motivated application (one page) demonstrating why the qualifications of the applicant are suitable for the project.
  • A project description, which explains the scientific perspectives, theories, methodological approaches, dissemination, and timeframe (max. five pages not including the reference list)
  • CV containing educational info, work experience, and other relevant information.
  • Copies of relevant exams-papers
  • Signed letter of commitment from the main supervisor from a university, where the PhD-project can be hosted and the candidate can be enrolled, and where necessary, also from the relevant PhD School.

The application must be sent via the National Museums electronic recruitment system on our website and must be received by the museum no later than Monday the 20th of March 2023.

After the deadline, a pre-qualifying assessment committee will assess the qualifications of the applicants in relation to achieving a PhD scholarship. Hereafter, an employment committee will be formed. Selected applicants should expect job interviews before the 1st of June 2023.

For further information, please contact one of the following: Head of research at the Department of Prehistory, Middle Ages and Renaissance, Michael Andersen, tel. 0045 41206110,, Senior Researcher, Mads Dengsø Jessen, tel. 0045 41206168, or Director of Trelleborg Viking Fortress, Anne-Christine Larsen, tel. 0045 41206390,

Apply here