In this thesis settlement areas and settlements from the Bronze Age on Gotland are in focus. The island of Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea is famous for its rich archaeological remains of monuments and relics from all pre-historic periods, and the Bronze Age (1700-500 BC) especially is well repre- sented. There are nearly a thousand cairns, over 300 stone-ship settings and a large amount of bronze finds, but there are few traits of contemporary settlements. With few exceptions the settlements from all pre-historic periods are in one way “invisible” but during the last decades the context has changed, as has knowledge of the settlements from the Bronze Age. Research published throughout the first ten years of the 21th century offers new and refreshing interpretations concerning settlements and houses from the period in question on both a regional level and in more comprehensive studies across Scandinavia. This is due to continued advances in archaeological methods to see the invisible remains however many of the sites are discovered in exploitation-excavations. In a smaller scale this is also true for Gotland and during the last decade there are scattered finds of houses from the period in the shape of post-holes, hearths and cooking pits. The situation on the island is not to expect larger ex- ploitations followed by excavations so we have to test other ways to look for the settlement areas and settlements. In this study I therefor examine if there are any relations to the visible, in first hand cont- emporary types of monuments such as burnt mounds, cairns, stone ship settings and finds of bronzes, to sites seen as possible settlement areas from the Bronze Age. In this context I also have to consider the remains from the early Iron Age, foremost the visible remains of fossilised fields and ancient forts.

The theoretical framework is a hermeneutic approach in the study of the relations of each cont- emporary types of monuments contextualized with possible settlements. As Gotland is an island I have to relate to the meaning of landscape and islands. To get closer to the society and the social orga- nisation, my aim is also to come closer to the people who lived their daily lives on Gotland during the Bronze Age and to consider the question of the chiefdoms and the social organisation.