Excursion day in Norrbotten

A week goes fast and this one has come to an end, as I wrote earlier we have found a construction that seems to be the remains of a living quarter. We have now started to excavate the floor to get a better view of the construction, next week we will now more. More info on the offical blog now namned A7 (In Swedish).

Yesterday we went on an excursion; in total we visited three prehistoric settlements

The first on is called Granån (Pine river), it is placed in a slope, on the settlement several cocking pits and so called settlements pits have been found. Some of the cocking pits have been excavated and the dating is 800-400 BC, at this time the see reached all up here, this was a cape in the Bronze Age/early Iron Age archipelago.


A cocking pit, it might be a bit difficult to see but this one is ca 1.5 meters wide.If these so called cocking pits primal purpose is cocking is hard to say, I believe that there they can have hold several functions; for example to create fire cracked stones, for manufacturing of seal oil, to dry meat, anneal etc. They differ in both size and depth to much to be so easily described as cocking pits.

Unfortunately parts of this site have been damaged due to forestry and pieces of quartz are clearly visible in the trails made by large machines. Though it is hard to estimate how large the damages are they are clearly visible.


Visible fragments of quartz in the trail of a forestry machine.Next stop was at Lillberget (The small mountain) a settlement partly excavated by Norrbottens museum. It is dated to the Stone Age, ca 3900-3600 BC, and belongs to comb ceramic culture, which is spread from the mountains of Ural to Norway. The name comes from the ceramics with comb imprints on. Among the finds are ceramics that shows an eastward influence, flints (brown and red from the east though it is also very similar to the one that exists on Gotland).


A footbridge leads the way and several information signs tells the story (though not all that well).This is one of three settlements on which ceramics from the comb ceramic culture has been found, all three are found in Norrbotten. One possible two graves have been excavated; both where had a layer of red ochre upon which the dead was placed. One of the graves is certain, here the archaeologists found a seal figurine. Other interesting finds is a copper bead (the earliest finds of metal in Norrbotten and one of the earliest in Scandinavia), seal bones, chewing gums and lots and lots of quartz. The finds of flint is interesting, especially the almond shaped arrow heads. These are bifacial and therefore quite complicated to manufactory; one theory is that this indicates some form of apprentice system. At this settlement several houses/huts have been excavated, today one can see the low embankments that was part of the wall structure of at least three houses/huts. This place is well worth a stop.


The settlement area.The last place is the place of the so called Ansvar grave. In this area, three graves have been identified as well as structures belonging to a settlement; it seems that graves and settlements are closely linked in this area at this time. One of the three graves has been excavated and it is dated to ca 5000 BC. Interesting is that the graves differ quite a bit in appearance, the excavated one is reconstructed but it was originally made as a frame filled with red ochre and the other one looks more like a normal stone setting, filled with stone, under the stones is a layer of red ochre.


Stone setting like grave


Framed grave with red ochre, reconstructed.


This was the archaeological part of the trip, before we went home we went to visit some of the waterfalls in the Kalix älv (river Kalix).


Quite a view isn’t it?

Magnus Reuterdahl


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

3 responses to “Excursion day in Norrbotten

  • Åsa

    I’m so jealous! What a wonderful landscape. Lillberget is way up on my must-see list.
    It’s tragic that the very thing that aids us in survey work of prehistoric sites in Norrland is also the thing that makes them so vulnerable to forest work – the fact that 7000 year old remains can be found ringht beneath the mossy surface. Breaks my heart to see destruction like that, especally in an area of Sweden so poorly understood even today.

  • Magnus Reuterdahl

    Lillberget is indeed worth a look see, it is a beautiful and very interesting site. At the excursion we were lucky to have a few archaeologists that had been doing part of the excavation and extra information gives so much.

    I do agree with you that the damages due to forestry is a tragedy in the making, this is unfortunately true for many parts of Sweden. Among others Skogsstyrelsens and RAAs (The Swedish forest agency) report on damages on ancient- and cultural remains is a devastating reading, if one cares for our cultural heritage. According to the report that covers three counties in Sweden; Kalmar, Värmland and Västerbotten has more than 1/3 of all ancient remains been damaged due to felling and evan more due to ground clearing.

    The report can be found here (in Swedish): http://www.svo.se/episerver4/dokument/sks/aktuellt/press/2006/Rapport%20skador%20forn.pdf

  • The evolution of a construction (the chain of thoughts at a excavation). « Testimony of the spade

    […] Norrbotten we currently excavate a construction that I have mentioned before, see here and here, more info of the site can be found […]

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