Storm related Archaeology in Sweden

 Today I updated the Kronoberg county administrative board web page, or at least the page that regards surveys after the storms Gudrun and Per. As it is written in Swedish I thought that I could translate it and publish it here as well (with a few adds), see the original page in Swedish here.

Storm surveys1 and restorations of ancient monuments and remains in Kronoberg County 2005-2007.

1) Surveys to establish the amount of damage the storm Gudrun (2005) and Per (2006) caused on ancient monuments and remains.

After the storm Gudrun there was a need to estimate how many, where and to what extent ancient monuments in the county had been damaged. The information collected in the surveys has been used to determine where and what actions that has been need to make. The information is also available for future research. During the surveys more than 2000 ancient monuments have been visited and more than 150 has been reconstructed or restored in some way. Three monuments have been excavated due to the damages.

The surveys were performed during the fall and winter of 2005 and during the spring and summer of 2006. During the summer of 2006 the restoration work began and it is still running.

Before the surveys a first elimination were made during which we assed what areas were probable to house most of the damaged monuments. These were made possible by comparing satellite and photos taken from the air and compare this with maps where ancient monuments are shown. Through this comparison we could determine what areas we should concentrate on. We visited more than 2100 ancient monuments, 915, 42 %, were damaged in some form by the storm or the after effects thereof. 180 of these were estimated to have been so badly damaged that they were in need of some form of restoration or reconstruction.

Most of the damages were a direct consequence of the storm. These damages are damages caused by uprooted trees, fall and pressure damages and monuments that been partly or wholly covered by trees, branches or/and twigs. Other damages are related to the process of harvesting the trees felled by the storm, ca 20 % of the damaged monuments had damages from machines. Other damages are related to the reforestation. Before planting new trees different types of ground scaring or uprooting of stumps are causing massive damages on some types of ancient monuments. The kind of damages this cause is to blur the cultural landscape as it levels out the ground. This makes it hard to near impossible to interpret the landscape again as all or many of the features are no more or are damaged. It also causes damage to prehistoric remains and contexts that are underground, for example settlements.

There are more than 20000 registered premises of ancient monuments or remains, more than 11000 of these are to be found in woodlands. For the surveys we were forced to make priorities, monuments in woodlands, graves and grave fields, ruins, tar production sites and some fossilised acres etc. The help of satellite photos has assessed the damages on the fossilised acres; thereafter we have visited a select few to describe different kinds of damages. There are more than 3600 areas of fossilised acres in the county; these are from less than a hectare to several hectares in size. It is assessed that more than 60 % of these has gotten some damages. We don’t know exactly how extensive these damages are but we do know that they are more damages made due to the extraction of the storm felled timber and there will be even more damages during the period of reforestation.

Fossilised acres are areas in which there are remains of prehistoric farming. Often these remains are small cairns that has been erected due to farming of clearing of spaces. These cairns generally about 5 meters in diameter and 0,3 meters in height, it is not unusual that they are covered by moss or vegetation which makes them difficult to spot for the untrained eye. In some areas there are other types of remains such as small parcels, terraces or small embankments and stonewalls. All these remains are evidence of our forefather’s lives. In many cases the settlements are located somewhere within these acres though they are difficult to find. What are visible for us today are the monuments that surround the settlements for example the acres, the graves and the grave fields.

One of the goals with the surveys was to describe how different types of monuments and remains had been damaged. When it comes to settlements we had to do a special survey to identify settlement within storm-damaged areas. To make sure that we had found these areas we used phosphate analysis and on one site we made a small excavation. The result of the excavation was that cultural layers and remains seemed to have coped relatively well.

Since the summer and fall of 2006 more than 150 ancient monuments has been restored, many of these grave fields. More than 1700 stumps have been uprooted and more than 300 has been pushed back. Besides the work with stumps the monuments has been cleared of twigs and branches. Three monuments have been excavated due to the damages. (Amongst other an Iron Age dolmen was excavated in Odensjö parish and the remains of an infant was found.)

The surveys has resulted in two reports “Skadeinventeringar i Kronobergs län 2005” (Damage surveys in Kronoberg county 2005) and “I rotvältors land… – resultat från skadeinventeringen 2005 och 2006”  (In the land of uprooted trees… – results of the damage surveys of 2005 and 2006) the first is available as a pdf-file and the second one is possible to order through county administrative board. The restorations and reconstructions are accounted for in the report “Arkeologiska insatser i Kronobergs län efter stormen Gudrun. Återställning, dokumentation och besiktning” (Archaeological work in Kronoberg county due to the storm Gudrun. Restoration, documentation and inspections), which is also available as a pdf-file. The reports are only available in Swedish.

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

3 responses to “Storm related Archaeology in Sweden

  • Kim

    Vet du om det möjligtvis upptäcktes några NYA fornlämningar efter stormarna. Gropkeramiska lokaler tex som dök upp i någon rotvälta…

  • Magnus Reuterdahl

    Hi Kim!

    The question from Kim concerns if any new monuments/remains has been found due to the storm. The answer is yes!

    For example a few localities where cup marks have been identified, another example is the grave field Borlanda (Söraby 37:1) where a lot of monuments has been identified during the restoration process. Before the storm there were five graves identified and today there are at least 45 (it is possible that even more will be identified as the work is not finished there).

    When it comes to settlements, we have been trying to locate settlements in fossilized acres with some success but not through finds in uprooted trees but through surveys and phosphat tests and a small archaeological excavation.

    There is also the situation where it is the other way around; A few monuments that has been registered as a certain ancient remains has been disqualified. For example when the damages has shown a small cairn or stone setting is not a grave but a cairn that has been erected due to farming of clearing of spaces so forth.

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