Monthly Archives: August 2007

Excursion day: From Borgholm castle to Kalmar Dome

The other day me and my collogues at the cultural heritage unit at the county administrative board of Krononberg went for a study trip to the island Öland in the southeast part of Sweden.

Borgholm Castle ruin

We were to visit Borgholms castle at Öland, Kalmar county museum to get information about an excavation done earlier this year and to the dome of Kalmar that has been partly restored as well as the square in front of it. It turned out to be a fine day.

First we arrived to Borgholms castle or more truthfully castle ruin and museum. To be truthfully I didn’t have high expectations, I have visited the ruin on several occasions but as it turned out it have passed 11 years since the last time and a lot had happened. My most vivid memory is from sometimes in the 80’s when I visited a concert that was held within the ruin. This is something that still occurs several times a year and the framework of the ruin, the setting sun and a (hopefully) good band makes for a special treat. My memory of the ruin itself was a bit cloudy, I remembered it as just a big frame filled with nothingness. Well, as I found out this memory was false.

Model of the Borgholm castle

A model of the castle in all its might ca 17th-18th centuary

Borgholms castle is referred to as “the most beautiful ruin in Scandinavia” on their homepage, I am not sure about that statement but it is impressive.

Borgholm castle ruin

The southwest tower

Except for the beautiful structures, pillars and vaults there is also one floor in the west wing that has a roof and that holds a museum. Here is also a hall that can be booked for weddings and wedding parties. There is also a truly cool kitchen that has been built within the castle.

The westwing of Borgholm Castle

The westwing that holds the museum and the halls for feasts and weddings.

Parts of the castle and the castle grounds have been excavated on different occasions in 1929, 1938-39, 1963, 1972, 1974-78, 1988 and 2004. So there are several interesting facts and finds regarding the place. The have been used since at least the Iron Age. The oldest trace of a castle is that of a medieval round tower, dated to the 12th centaury.

The castle ruin as we see it today is the result of King Johan III total rebuild of the medieval castle, that only can be seen within the museum where they shoe some structures that has been preserved from the oldest parts. King Johan III let the castle be converted into a Renaissance palace (1572-1592). In the early 17th centaury much of the palace was damaged during the Kalmar war (1611-1613) but in 1652 the castle was started to be rebuild, it went slow and is still today a construction site, it was closed down by Charles XII as he fought the war against Russia in 1709 and there after it was left to decay until 1806 when a big fire devastated much of what was left. Since the 1880’s work begun to preserve and restore the ruin and the work is still ongoing.

Borgholm castle ruin 2

The (re)construction is ever ongoing.

Other interesting thing is that the staff converts limestone to quick lime themselves, which is used to restore the ruin. This process is done in a big “lime” oven a few times every year. It’s advertised on their homepage, I was told, and will keep an eye out.

Lime oven

The oven in which they make quick lime

One thing that was impressive was the big windows that had been installed within the vaults, the cool thing is that they are more or less invisible, they a really a part of the ruin.

The windows in Borgholm castle

The windows that are set in the vaults besides an open vault.

In the summer time they hold a lot of activates for children in the castle, where they can play knights, princesses etc.

The whole area around the castle is a mighty heathland where cows roams free all summer long. Just south of the castle ruin is Soliden, a summer residence used by the Swedish king and his family, if one is interested in gardens this is said to be very beautiful.

After lunch we went to Kalmar and the County museum. We got a lecture regarding an archaeological excavation in the central parts of Kalmar. The excavation preceded the construction of a new art hall. There had been a lot of fine finds for example a medieval skate made from made out of a metacarpal bone from a cow or possible a horse. There was also some interesting finds of different kinds of wool and other fabrics. A nice and very pedagogic display of an excavation, sadly it was to be dismantled the next day.

Kalmar Dome

Then we went to see the square in front of the Kalmar Dome. This square has recently been put in order as have the exterior of the dome. We also got a quick look inside the building where restoration and reorganization is on its way. We got some information on how this should be done.

The square outside of the dome

A nice day with a lot of sights and impressions.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Why do I do Archaeology?

On occasion I try to trace my interest of archaeology back in time, when and what made me interested in this subject. For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested and I can think of a few things that got me hooked. Born and raised in the Swedish town Jönköping this is where my interest stared and grown.

  1. My father is interested in history and historical remains and often told stories (more or less historically correct) about past times; kings, knights, castles etc. On vacations we often visited historical and ancient monuments, museums and such. This is a probable one of the reasons; my father’s interest afflicted me.
  2. I have flashback memories of visiting the provincial county museum of Jönköping were I grow up. I remember my fascination of skeletons, craniums and swords. My strongest memory from the museum is not an archaeological one but an installation that was supposed to be a troll cave as reconstructed from the imaginary paintings of Johan Bauer. I can remember the artificial smell, the excitement and expectation, the darkness, the big ugly troll (I think it was made in paper mache or something of that kind) and of course all the treasures: all that gold, the diamonds and pearls etc. This really made things spin a small boys mind. I can’t remember caring much ‘bout the princess though. The museum is probably another reason to my interest in artifacts and bones.
  3. A friend of my parents’ was/is an archaeologist, who at the time worked in Jönköping on several excavations. I remember that my father brought me along to watch some of the digs he was working on, which if I remember correctly was in the central parts of town. I can still remember the excitement of being allowed within the rope off area. There was something in the smells of the old dirt, the found artifacts and the setting that just felt right. I think that the possibility to learn of history not through books but by hand was appealing to me; maybe I saw it as a short cut. To be able to experience archaeology first hand is most certainly a reason to my growing interest.
  4. Because of my interest in archaeology and other things old I remember that my mother tried to encourage this by buying books about archaeology, old coins, unsolved historical mysteries etc (I still think I have a few of those somewhere in my bookshelf). Books lead to more books and the information in those to knowledege and a need to know more.
  5. A bit later on came the inspiring Indiana Jones movies, but at that time I had already been hooked since long.

There are several things when one thinks back that has molded ones mind in a certain direction. Some might have been more or less deliberate others indeliberate. As time went by I realized (as a young’un) that a career in archaeology was a tuff one so I went for a more fashionable solution: Media.

I went to a residential folk high school, Hantverkets folkhögskola i Leksand (now Leksands folkhögskola), for two years to study, this did lead to a short career in media industry. I worked for a few years with TV-production at Strix Television during 1995-1998 or something like that. It was a fun time but I got tired of it quite quickly it wasn’t really what I was searching for instead I ended up working as a cashier at a gas company called OKQ8 for a few years before I decided that it was time to go back to school: Stockholm University and the department of Archaeology. This was in the fall of 2000 and since then I have either studied or worked, mostly as an archaeologist/osteologist, the cashier job at OKQ8 have proven to be a valuable asset as it is a perfect job in between other jobs.

About the future, who knows, if I get the possibility I would love to go back to the University for a PhD in archaeology or osteoarchaeology. One thing is for sure my interest have not diminished over the years, if something it has grown stronger and I have more questions today than yesterday and every answer leads to more questions, that I believe is the nature of science and what pushes one to learn more and widen ones own horizons.

Magnus Reuterdahl

This is what I currently read

I often read several books simultaneously sometimes this is due to necessity, the second title in this post can be put in this cathegory. The book is about roads and is read due to a report I am currently writing, often this might be books that I would otherwise overlook as they might not concur with my main interests. Well this is what lays open on my bed stand at the moment. 

Det förflutna är att räkna med. [Ed. Lars Ersgård] 2006. (A scientific programme from UV (the department of excavations at the NHB(RAA)). In this book the NHB wants to formulate a new research strategy to make the exploration archaeology more legible in today’s society. To manifest a common scientific identity and to present a number of archaeological themes that is in the process of research. Besides this it aims to be a source of inspiration for archaeologists.

So far I have found this to be both inspirational, interesting and well written. Among the authors are Tore Artelius, Lars Ersgård and mats Anglert.

Published by Riksantikvarieämbetet (NHB).

Vägars kulturvärden 1997 – Mia Andersson. This is a book about roads and its values as cultural markers. What happens when we change a road? What information of the past can a road give us?

Besides a lot of nice pictures, one can find a summery of the history of roads and travel on land and how this have changed the landscape but also which remains that reminds us of times gone by as mile stones, avenues, rune stones, grave fields etc. A nice book that in part is a little bit to much of a coffee table book but in parts is relevant and filled with interesting thoughts and facts.

Published by Riksantikvarieämbetet (NHB).

Tecknens rike – Cecilia Lindqvist 1989. This is a book about the Chinese civilization and the Chinese ideograms.

This is a very intresting book that uses the ideograms as a fix point to describe the Chinese history. I have been reading this book quite slowly. As I’ve progressed I have written some lines about it (in Swedish) at my other blog Yangshao projektet. As I begun I thought that the book would be more “historic” than it is, in reality there is quite a lot o prehistory as well.

If you’re interested in Chinese ideograms, Chinese history or/and prehistory this is a fun, interesting and well written book.

This book is available in English under the title; China: Empire of Living Symbols.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Scenic spot Skatelöv

My trip to Skatelöv paid off. I got some photos of the rune stone Sm 6, the “picture stones” and more.

Sm 6. The size and form of the rune stone is that of a tombstone, but the outlay of the inscriptions and decorations seems more a test inscription but the inscription says otherwise.

Sm 6 rune stone

Inscription: bosi : tlhi kirki þ bosi : ta=lhi sten til skatma kirkiu

In translation:

“Bósi cut the church. … Bósi cut the stone to the church of the Skatamen(?).”

Skatamen should probably an earlier form for Skatelöv, for example the men of Skate…

Picture stone Skatelöv old church 1

An animal carved in the style of those found on rune stones, but this is probably carved as an adornment on the church.

Picture stone 2   Picture stone 3

Two stones with figurative carvings, they are rather worn so it’s hard to interpret them. Both have probably been carved as some form of adornments. If tou look close enough on the stone to the left it is easy to make your self believe that there are carved runes on it, especially up in the left upper corner: After a while I was sure that I could see at least three runes: t, k, i/a. But I am pretty sure this is just an illusion or a wish to see runes.

 the medieval baptismal font of Skatelöv church

In the church is also the medieval baptismal font.

Picture from 1698 in Skatelöv church

On the wall of the church hangs a painting from 1698 with the name Pet. Rudbeck that is of interest, behind the mythological beast with the crossbow is a rune stone and a prehistoric grave field.

Rune stone  Grave field

Details of the rune stone and the prehistoric gravefield.

 The old church of Skatelöv

On another wall, in the tower there, is a painting that shows us how the medieval church looked. It was demolished in 1820.

The foundation of Skatelövs old church

The medieval church stood on a small cape with a beautiful view. In the cemetery one can still see the church foundation.

Tomb stone

On the cemetery the tombstone over Gunnar Olof Hyltén-Cavallius is raised, in the style of a rune stone in a small mound. According to inscription Gunnar Olof Hyltén Cavallius was born on March 18th 1818 and died in June 5th 1889, it also states that the stone was set by people from Småland.

Gunnar Olof Hyltén-Cavallius is perhaps best known as an ethnologist. His greatest legacy is that in Swedish archaeology and ethnology, he founded the first provincial museum in Sweden, Smålands Museum. He was also one of the founders of Svenska fornminnesföreningen (The Swedish association for ancient remains).

 Magnus Reuterdahl

What to expect of the coming week

As this blog just passed the 3000 visitors mark I thought it was time to check up if the value of this site have changed since I last checked it out on April the 25th. Then the value was at $1,129.08. So what’s the value today?

My blog is worth $11,855.34.
How much is your blog worth?

Now that’s a bit of a change. Lucky me!


Back to business! At the moment I busy with trying to get my reports done before this projects ends. So you’ll have to forgive me for being a bit lazy ‘bout posting. Hopefully I will have time to swing by the Church of Skatelöv and take some pictures on the rune stone Sm 6, the picture stones and the place where they were found. If so I will publish them later tonight or during the weekend. If the weather allows it I will go to Visingsö (a island in lake Vättern) and do some excursion, if so I’ll publish some pictures and a few notes later on.I’ve written some preavious posts on Visingsö that is here and here.

Hopefully I will have time next week to write something about my upcoming job in Kalix and a little about the site we shall excavate.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Four Stone Hearth # 21

Four Stone Hearth: volume 21 is on line hosted by Archaeolog– archaeology blog-all things archaeological.I hadn’t time to write a post for the carnival this time but the blog carnival continues. Check it out!

Magnus Reuterdahl

The National Heritage Board answers back!

In Dagens Nyheter and in K-blogg the head of the National Heritage Board (NHB), Inger Liljeqvist,  gives NHB’s answer to the debate article published a few days ago in the same paper regarding runestones (my earlier comments are here) under the headline ” It is not our task to do research regarding the rune stones“.

I’ll summarize her answer quite shortly:

It is the opinion of the NHB that the universities and collages are better equipped to do research on rune stones. It is no longer the NHB’s roll to do research but to supply information, to administrate and to make the cultural heritage more accessible.

The NHB have collected a great amount of data concerning runes and runic inscriptions, information that today is accessible through the internet. To collect information shall not be an end in itself, the data becomes valuable first when it is in use.

The NHB have not abandoned the rune stones and we won’t in future either, today the responsibility of rune stone care is at the county administrative boards.

The NHB has been a “learned institution” in the past but today we are a national authority with new tasks and commissions. One of our more important activities of today is to make the cultural heritage accessible and pressing for each and every one. We focus on knowledge services, consultations and know how.

We will still be an institution that has a great knowledge concerning our traditional cultural heritage as well as our modern cultural heritage.

A few personal notes and thoughts on the matter:

Though the HNB’s debate answer concerns rune stones and HNB’s roll in the handling of these I do believe that it concerns more. The NHB needs to rebuild its identity. In some ways they made great leaps forward, as in their opening of databases for the public.

What I feel is a big problem is the fact that it seems like the NHB is not interested in cultural heritage as a science but more so as in something that can be fun and fuzzy – something harmless.

The main goal of NHB should, according to me, be long term solutions for the future;

  • In what way can we preserve out national heritage for the future?
  • In what way is the national heritage important and for whom?
  • Why do we need to protect the national heritage?
  • What is national heritage?
  • How do we incorporate the National Heritage in todays and tomorrows societies?

  • etc…

To be able to work with questions like these it is important that the NHB has the right tools and the correct data. It might be true that the research should be done at our Universities, but they do not do research for the NHB, the research they do don’t necessarily have anything to do with the kind of data the NHB needs. Another big problem is the fact that Universities in Sweden today doesn’t have money to do much humanistic research at all. If the NHB are to relay on research from the Universities in the future, then they have to start up funds to employ researchers to do research for them at the Universities, which could be one way to strengthen humanistic research in Sweden.

As I wrote earlier I feel that it is great that the NHB is making their databases accessible to the public and it is true that the NHB do have lots and lots of knowledge in their databases, but it is also true that knowledge constantly needs to be upgraded or it will be outdated. Without research there is a risk that the NHB aren’t getting the information it needs to meet the demands of tomorrow. If, like the NHB writes, the future goals of NHB is, among other things, to focus on knowledge services, consultations and know how; how can this be done without research and a constant renewal of knowledge?

This said I do believe, and so do others ( see Åsa M Larssons blog (in swedish); Ting och tankar) that it is good that the NHB is becoming a national authority that are more inclined to work with control functions and to be the organizer of or to fund different projects instead of as in the past being in competition with museums and other agents within the sphere of cultural heritage.

As the late singer/songwriter Cornelis Vreeswijk once sang (Ballad in the dust):
Oh citizen, hear me singin’ a-sittin’ the dust.
It’s the wrong time for music but i feel like i must.
I’m filled up with sadness, I’m in a dirty mood.
Tomorrow it might be better but it never be good.

//Magnus Reuterdahl

Ps. If anyone involved thinks that I have misread or misinterpreted something in the quotations or summaries pleas contact me so I can correct it. Ds.

Detective work concerning Sm 6

I will have to visit Skatelövs church, in Skatelövs parish.The other day I got a question via arkeologiforum ( a Swedish forum for archaeology, we’ve been talking about an international section, if or when it opens I let you all know) regarding the whereabouts of the rune stone Sm 6 (Raa 400:1 in Skatelövs parish). In FMIS (the National Heritage Boards database of ancient monuments and remains) it is stated that the rune stone that was found when the old church of Skatelöv were demolished in 1820 is in the collections at Smålands Museum (Museum of Smaland). A few years ago it was moved to the new church in Skatelöv.

When I got the question I was pretty sure it had been moved but I was not sure (now I am), I went into my photo database to see if I could find a photo of the rune stone but I couldn’t. So I googled it, and found a picture here. I’ll have to go get a photo of my own. Besides the rune stone there should also be two picture stones, also found when the old church was demolished, that I believe are on display in the “new” church.

I’ll go check this out after work sometime soon and write a post about it.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Traces of cultivation as a fossilized landscape

The traces of older cultivation at Sävsjö manor domains.

Part of a fofossilized landscape 

Small cairns made out of stone due to the cultivation

The remains of Sävsjö village are still visible today as a nature’s own museum. A prehistoric grave field from the Iron Age (500 B.C. – 1050 A.D.) shows us who long people have inhabited this place. The oldest written source that names the village is from1494 and around 1640 Sävsjö manor (säteri) is established. The small nearby farmes were evicted and the land was used as pasture land which has conserved a fossilized landscape. Here one can see the narrow fields, the stone fences that dived different areas, cairns due to cultivation, traces of terracing, pastures and different formations made of earth such as banks etc. The oldest traces are dated to around the birth of Christ.

a stone fence

A stone fence.

The area is open for the public and free of charge, there is an information sign (that need to be updated) and there are small paths to walk on. On a sunny day this is fine example of a fossilized landscape, the traces are clearly visible and it is a nice place for a picnic or a stroll in “wild”.

A cultivation cairn

Yet another part of this beautiful area.

The fossilized landscapes at Sävsjö village or manor can be found in Lenhovda parish in Kronobergs County, Småland.More information in Swedish can be found here.

Magnus Reuterdahl


You are doing a worse job today than at the start some 400 years ago.

In today’s Dagens Nyheter several professors, lecturers and writers gives hard critique toward the National Heritage Board (RAA) under the headline: The government shirk their responsibility to care for our National heritage.

In the debate article they write among other things (A short summary of the article):

“You are doing a worse job today than at the start some 400 years ago. (the National heritage board )

In Sweden a special cut cultural heritage is available that is unique in the world, 1000’s of written messages are available in the landscape (the rune stones) for everyone to read. With a cultural heritage like this comes a great responsibility to care for and to document this remains for those who comes after us. This is something that has been recognized for hundreds of years but during recent years the National heritage board has seemed less inclined to take its responsibility for our older cultural heritage. Important and highly regarded publications such as “Det Medeltida Sverige” (Medieval Sweden) and works regarding our churches have been terminated long before they have been finished. Now the axe is coming down on “Runverket” (the Rune agency) that during a long time have been responsible for publishing and “Sveriges runiskrifter” (The Runic inscriptions in Sweden) in which runic inscriptions have been described and interpreted province by province. Its personal has also been in charge of painting and care of the rune stones.

The debaters feel that this strange especially as the interest for history and the Viking Age is on a steady upraise in Sweden. They also feel that it is of both a national as well as an international interest that the long term strategies regarding the knowledge and care for the rune stones are in place and that the best way to do this is to have a central authority that are responsible to secure the scientific competency.

The debaters concludes the article with a demand that there should be at least three full time employees that works with the documentation, the care and publication.

I agree with the debaters on this subject as a whole if not in every detail, I think it is sad that the National board (RAA) no longer seems interested in collecting, processing and creating knowledge of our ancient and historical monuments, remains and relics. But I don’t think it is necessary or particularly good to centralize all research or care at a government authority. In many ways it is a good path to let the provincial County Boards and museums take a big responsibility within their local area.

But I think it is important that the NHB works from an authority angle; as a control function regarding laws and regulations and concentrating on the national scene rather than the local. This does call for funds directed to local research and for care of our ancient and historic remains. It is also important to state that this does not absolve the NHB from responsibility of being in charge of the whole picture, to do this they must do research, collecting data and bring the results together and publish these. Otherwise we’ll get a situation where no one looks at the national perspective and all comes down to provincial thinking at the risk of building up walls instead of bridges. A NHB that is only talk and ideology isn’t what anyone need, what we need is a NHB that stands strong and take fights for preservation and re-search regarding our common cultural heritage.

 Magnus Reuterdahl

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