Ingroup identification, identity fusion and the formation of Viking war bands

Ben Raffield, Claire Greenlow, Neil Price, Mark Collard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: The lið, a retinue of warriors sworn to a leader, has long been considered one of the basic armed groups of the Viking Age. However, in recent years the study of lið has been eclipsed by the discussion of larger Viking armies. In this paper, we focus on the key question of how loyalty to the lið was achieved. We argue that two processes that have been intensively studied by psychologists and anthropologists – ingroup identification and identity fusion – would have been important in the formation and operation of lið. In support of this hypothesis, we outline archaeological, historical and literary evidence pertaining to material and psychological identities. The construction of such identities, we contend, would have facilitated the formation of cohesive fighting groups and contributed to their success while operating in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-50
Number of pages16
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number1
Early online date23 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • group cohesion
  • identification
  • identity fusion
  • ingroup
  • lið
  • Viking Age
  • war band


Dive into the research topics of 'Ingroup identification, identity fusion and the formation of Viking war bands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this