In search of settlements

Last year when working in Kronobergs county we made a small scale experiment. As most monuments in this part of Sweden is found in woodland areas, they were greatly effected by the storm Gudrun. Some monuments as mounds, cairns, graveyards etc. are quite easy to spot, others are more difficult to identify. Therefore it is more difficult to estimate and describe the damage done to them.  A certain type of cultural remains that in Sweden is called “fossil åker” (fossilized fields), e.g. an area where the traces of  ancient farming can be seen, either by small cairns made by the stones collected in the fields or in some cases by small terraces that are visible. The oldest of these fields are from the bronze age and youngest probobly from the late 19th century. Large areas of these remains are protected by law in Sweden, among other things based on the assumption that within these areas there are remains of settlements.  What we hoped to accomplish was to try to identify were these settlement were within a few fossilized fields and by this try to estimate in what way and by what effect the damages after the storm might have caused a settlement. Now these areas can sometimes be several km² large and the damages from both fallen trees and the machines used to bring out the lumber has caused large areas to be difficult to reach as well read. After doing some small-scale surveys, me and a colleague of mine; Leif Jonsson, identified 18 possible settlement sites within 13 areas of fossilized fields. To try to be more certain whether we really found the settlement areas or not we used a method of phosphate analysis with a reflectometer (Merck Rqflex 10) which measures phosphateº by an optic scanner.  In ten of these tested areas we got indications that what we thought to be a settlement might be one. Two of these indications were stronger that the others. To make sure we decided to do a small excavation within one of the ares, in the parish of Östra Torsås (Raa 93:1). With the help of a caterpillar we opened up two trenches S-N and E-V. In the E-V trench we found clear evidence of human activities, as we didn’t find any postholes we can’t say for certain that it is a settlement, but we found hearths and parcels of ash and a lot of cremated bone fragments from animals, burnt clay etc.  From this we could describe some of damages that a settlement or activityarea in this situation had gotten.

Most of the damages could be described as secondary, that is to say the damages probably is related to the effects of the pressure the large machines used to bring out the storm fallen lumber. We also identified that there is a big risk of more damage during reforesting.

 // Magnus Reuterdahl

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About Magnus Reuterdahl

I am an archaeologist/Osteologist from Sweden. My main intrest lays in north Euorpean archaeology in, preferbly the prehistory of the late iron age and the neolithic periods. I've also got a strong intrest for Chinese archaeology, especially the neolithc Yangshao culture. I also write about cultural heritage and cultural history. Mitt namn är Magnus Reuterdahl, jag är arkeolog och osteolog och arbetar företrädesvis i Sverige även om jag gjort ett par vändor till Kina. På den här bloggen skriver jag om mitt yrke, om fornlämningar, kulturarv och kulturhistoria m m. View all posts by Magnus Reuterdahl

2 responses to “In search of settlements

  • links for 2007-04-14 « Archaeoastronomy

    […] In search of settlements « Testimony of the spade Here’s a question that often gets asked: “How do you know where to dig?” Magnus Reuterdahl writes on his survey for settlements in Sweden. (tags: archaeology survey) […]

  • Magnus Reuterdahl

    In Sweden there have been a few national surveys of ancient monuments, the last one in the end the last century. During these surveys that cover most parts of Sweden archaeologists has registered different kind of finds or areas where certain finds has been found. This database (FMIS) is open to the public, landowners, exploiters and those who are interested to know more about homestead via the internet. Most digs are rescue excavations due to exploitation of one kind or another. Before the building of a road or houses there an investigation regarding ancient monuments is made. As mentioned previously there are remains that are hard to identify without excavations, but there are often clues, for example fossilized fields, place names that indicate a long continuity backwards in time, rune stones, historic maps etc. In some cases you also do field walking, e.g. you scan an area looking for artefacts, for example, shards of ceramics or flints (most often in arable land).

    // Magnus Reuterdahl

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