Monthly Archives: August 2008

Week one in Norrbotten 2008

This week I’ve part of a small excavation of a hearth. The hearth has been part of a cot or a staltomt. In an earlier post I was a bit wrong regarding the geography of the place that we just excavated. It’s not south of Kalix but east of Kalix by the lake Renträsk in the vicinity of Lantjärv just a few km west of lokal 7 where we dug last year.


During the week we have been excavating this hearth. The hearth is placed upon a rock.


This particular one seems to be from the 18th or 19th century, according to the finds. The hearth probably looked very much like this one we built.


The finds are bones from several animals such as elk, reindeer, fish and birds. We have also found a couple of nails, a fishing hook and some fragments of clay pipes.

The next couple of days I will be working on cleaning and registrating the finds and do some osteology on the bones.

The excavation has been carried out by Norrbottens museum.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Going to Norrbotten

It’s all been going fast, I was contacted by Norrbittens museum just a few days ago and then last sunday I found myself driving through Sweden on my way up north. Well I lied not everything goes fast, it takes roughly 10 hours to drive from Stockholm to Luleå.

I made a few stops on my way up the first was at the Dragon gate some miles south of Gävle. Dragon gate is meant to be a mall and centre for chinese culture built by a Chinese business man in Chinese style. When I was there it seems kind of dead and empty.

Next stop was at Höga kusten bron or the High Coast bridge, it was built between 1993-1997. The view is impressing. This one of the most beautiful parts of the highway E4 in Sweden.

When I finally came to what will be my home for the coming month or so in Gammelstad kyrkstad just outside Luleå I was totaly beat. But my little cottage is great and som is the nearby enviorment.


The cottage that I live in.


 Magnus Reuterdahl

Three medieval churches, two rune stones and a mound.

I haven’t been lazy I just haven’t had access to the internet the last few days. I arrived in Luleå late Sunday night after a 10 hour drive and has since been working on an excavation, more on that later on. Consequently I will publish three post today of which this is the first.

Saturday I spent in Linköping with my fiancée, we took a drive in the countryside to watch some churches and rune stones, and we scored gold.

Our first stop was Ledberg church, the church is built during the 19th century on the place where the medieval one once stood. So the church itself isn’t all that interesting but ca 100 meter south of the church is a great mound called Ledbergs kulle (hill). The mound is the biggest one in Östergötland and it is probably built during the Iron Age (ca 800-1050 AD) but might be as old as from the 6th century AD.

As you can see the top is a bit flat, as one climbs the mound one can see a small fördjupning at the top and of course the great view.

At the information sign I learned that there was a rune stone by the church at the cemetery. I have to say that the lack of information signs showing where there are rune stones in Östergötland are really crappy. At several stones there is nothing that gives it away, here it is mentioned on a information sign regarding another monument, and this rune stone, Ög 181, is a real gem with carvings (images) from the Old Norse mythology.

The runic inscription on the front is as follows; (b)isi : sati : st(n) : þ(a)s(i) : iftiR : þurkut : u—–þ- : faþu(r)

Translated into English; Bisi placed this stone in memory of Þorgautr … his father.


The runic inscription on the front is as follows; : sin : uk : þu : kuna : baþi : þmk:iii:sss:ttt:iii:l(l)l

Translated into English; And Gunna, both. Thistle, mistletoe, casket. The last part has been interpreted as a spell or curse.

The pictures have been interpreted as images from the story of Ragnarök. On the backside is an image of Fenrisulven, the brother of Midgårdsormen, biting Odin in his foot.

At this sign I would expect an information sign with a bit more information than is available today, there information is very basic and only in Swedish, this one deserves more.

After this visit we went on to Björkeberg church, a very pretty church with a lovely small absid.

A thought that ran trough my head was that the small kor and the absid have the size of a stave church and that this possibly was the first Romanesque church and that the ship was built later on. At this point another negative comment; I miss information signs about the medieval churches in Östergötland like the ones in for example Kronobergs County.


At the doorstep of one to the small door to the sacristy an old grave stone has been reused a gotten a new function. The church was not open for visitors so we couldn’t see the inside.

The next and last stop was another gem; Kaga church and it was open for visitors. The oldest parts of Kaga church are from the 12th century, this includes the tower and the main building. The south entrance room was added in the 17th century and the sacristy in the 18th century.

A walled in rune stone, Ög 103, can be found in one of the outer walls. There’s no road pointer for this one either. Another rune stone has been found here but is now placed in the public library at Linköping.

The runic inscription on the front is as follows; tufi : raisti : stain : þinsi * iftiR : liþbufa * faþur * sin *

Translated into English; Tófi raised this stone in memory of Lið-Bófi, his father.

Well inside the church we was amazed by the beautiful paintings and relics. The southern entrance door is from the 12th century and one of the oldest in Östergötland.

A lion holding a man in his mouth, it has probably been part of the original south gate.

The paintings visible in the church are from the 15th century. There are also paintings from the 12th century but these can only be seen from the church vind. That’ll be for another time.


In conclusion a great day with great stops, in Östergötland county is lots and lots to see for those who are interested but the lack road pointers probably makes many miss them and the lack of good information signs at the sites is a loss for those who happens to stop at them.

Magnus Reuterdahl

More info on the upcoming adventures in Norrbotten

Another day, another piece of the puzzle; as I wrote in yesterday’s post I will be going to Norrbotten to work. I got hold of a place to live just outside of Luleå in Gammelstad Church Town. Gammelstad Church Town is a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1996. I guess that that promises at least one post on the church town in a near future.

I will work at Baas arkeologi (a part of Norrbottens museum) on an excavation some miles south of Kalix and I will work on a couple of archaeological prestudies; one close by Svappavaara and one close by Boden; all in all at least a month of archaeology. Good for me sad for my fiancée (she feels it’s a bit far away; ca 900 km from Stockholm, and there is a point there I know, but it’s only for a month).


Once again on my way to Norrbotten

It seems as I will be going north again, just like last year. Next week I will participate in a small excavation with Baas Arkeologi. Baas Arkeologi is a division at Norrbottens museum. BAAS stands for Buildings & settlement, Archaeology, Archives and Documentation of the contemporary (Samtidsbevakning). As some of you might remember I worked for some weeks up in Norrbotten last year and I feel good about returning.

This time we will excavate a hearth, possibly from the Iron Age. The hearth is found, if I understood it right on a stalotomt, the remains of a building connected to the Sami culture. This one is found some miles south of Kalix near the coastline, which makes it extra interesting as there is little previous knowledge of the coast bound ones.

The definition of a stalotomt is the remains of a building; it often has a reinforced floor and a surrounding constructed bank. These remains are found in the mountain areas, they are often oval or rectangular with arched walls, it is common to find a hearth in the middle of the construction and there is seldom any visible entrance. A stalotomt can be confused with a kåtatomt (the remains of a Lapp/Sami cot). The difference is the reinforced floor. RAA/FMIS

As I don’t have a good picture of a stalotomt I’ll link you to one; here.

I’ll get back to this subject as I get more information.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Advertisement for Four Stone Hearth #47

The 47th ed. of the Four Stone Hearth blog carnival is up and running at Almost diamonds, a blog that was new to me. Except for a number of interesting post in the carnival itself I found the post Muslim Scholar Says Muslims Can’t Handle Fiction interesting enough for a visit Almost diamonds. I didn’t submit a post this time around due to lack of time.

This ed. is called the Unasked Questions Edition but could also have been called the Olympics edition as it starts out with a few posts on the ongoing games. As always there are a number of interesting posts to read; among others I found the posts on Neanderthals well worth a read as well as those written at Afarensis, A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe and at Antiquarian’s Attic.

Magnus Reuterdahl

The Fourth Stone Hearth is a blog carnival that specializes in anthropology in the widest (American) sense of that word. Here, anthropology is the study of humankind, throughout all times and places, focussing primarily on four lines of research:

  • archaeology
  • socio-cultural anthropology
  • bio-physical anthropology
  • linguistic anthropology

Each one of these subfields is a stone in our hearth.

Four Stone Hearth is published bi-weekly, Wednesdays in odd-number weeks. If you would like to host the carnival, please write to Martin Rundkvist; arador@[delete_this]

If you would like to submit content to the next issue of the carnival, please write to the keeper of the blog in question or to Martin. You are encouraged to submit other bloggers’ work as well as your own.

A comic relief

I found this letter a few days ago on a blog as I was blogsurfing my workday away and remembered it as an e-mail I got a few years ago. As it is brilliant I blatantly copied it and now reprint it here on my blog.

John Cleese Letter to America
(‘Notice of Revocation of Independence’) 

Dear Citizens of America

In view of your failure to elect a competent President and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy), as from Monday next.

Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up “aluminium,” and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

2. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour’, ‘favour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix “ize” will be replaced by the suffix “ise.”

3. You will learn that the suffix ‘burgh’ is pronounced ‘burra’; you may elect to spell Pittsburgh as ‘Pittsberg’ if you find you simply can’t cope with correct pronunciation.

4. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels (look up “vocabulary”). Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.

5. There is no such thing as “US English.” We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘u’ and the elimination of “-ize.”

6. You will relearn your original national anthem, “God Save The Queen”, but only after fully carrying out Task #1 (see above).

7. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but to be celebrated only in England. It will be called “Come-Uppance Day.”

8. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun.

9. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

10. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

11. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric immediately and without the benefit of conversion tables… Both roundabouts and metrification will help you understand the British sense of humour.

12. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling “gasoline”) – roughly $8/US per gallon. Get used to it.

13. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call french fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called “crisps.” Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with malt vinegar.

14. Waiters and waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

15. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as “beer,” and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as “Lager.” American brands will be referred to as “Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine,” so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

16. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors as English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” was an experience akin to having one’s ear removed with a cheese grater.

17. You will cease playing American “football.” There is only one kind of proper football; you call it “soccer”. Those of you brave enough, in time, will be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American “football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of Jessies – English slang for “Big Girls Blouse”).

18. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the “World Series” for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable and forgiven.

19. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.

20. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due, backdated to 1776.

Thank you for your co-operation.

John Cleese…

 who by the way is not the author of this letter according to According to a version of this letter has been around via forwarded email since at least November 2000. The letter attributed to the former Monty Python member John Cleese was not actually written by him. To compare versions and catch up on the history of this satirical piece, start here.


Magnus Reuterdahl

The rune stones at Skärkind old church; Ög 171 and Ög 172

In the beginning of this week I once again found myself in Östergötland County, this time on a road trip. One of the places I visited was Skärkind, a small place along the Kings road (Eriksgatan). The kings road was really more of a route that a newly elected or proclaimed king had to take to be accepted as king through the realms during the early middle ages. In the 12th century the first church (at least the first church built by stone) at Skärskind was built. This church was replaced by a new one in the early 19th century. The old church was then demolished except for the choir that was rebuilt and is used as chapel at the cemetery.


The reason for this visit was not the chapel, though there are some medieval effects preserved within but the two rune stones; Ög 171 and Ög 172 that have been erected outside the chapel.


Ög 171 is interesting as it belongs to the oldest group of rune stones, dated to the 5th or the 6th century.

The inscription is made with the old futhork and is transliterated into skiþaleubaz which has been interpreted as a man’s name: Skinþa-Leubaz or Skinn-Ljuv. Skinn means Skin might be connected to skin (fur) trade and an addition to his surname Ljuv. Skinn might also be connected to farm/village some kilometres northwest of the church named Skinnstad. The rune stone was found during the demolishment of the old church in the 19th century so we have no way of knowing where it’s original placement has been.


Ög 172 was also found as the church was demolished but this one is from the Viking Age or the early Middle Ages. On this stone the younger futhork or the Viking Age futhork has been used. The young futhork is dated from ca 800 AD and used forth. The inscription is transliterated into: kutr : uk : fastulfR : uk : burn : uk : rustin : þiR : ristu : stin : þina : i-tR : stibi : faþur : sin * kuþan which in turn becomes Gautr ok Fastulfr ok Bjôrn ok Hróðsteinn þeir reistu stein þenna e[p]tir Stybbi, fôður sinn góðan or in English; Gautr and Fastulfr and Bjôrn and Hróðsteinn, they raised this stone in memory of Stybbir, their good father.


On the west wall of the chapel that does not seem to be of medieval origin at a first glance is a small Romanesque sculpture of two heads.

We visited more churches, rune stones and a castle on the way so there is yet more to come…

Magnus Reuterdahl

Medieval cellars of Linköping.

As promised I’ll show posts some notes on the medieval cellars that I visited while I was working in Linköping. There are several medieval cellars that have been preserved to our days around the city, most of them in the area between the main square and the dome; I got to visit five of them.


As we approached the Dome the sky was darkend by lots and lots of birds.

The first cellar we visited is from the 13th century and situated under a more modern house, from the 18th or 19th century. The V-formed vaults are a nice touch. This cellar has been used as a food cellar at least until the first half the 20th century.

 On our way to the next cellar we made a short stop at the old Main Street, Storgatan, of which a part has been preserved for us to see. It probably is rather close to how the street looked in the 19th century or so. Medieval religious centres are also often early centres for higher education; this is also true for Linköping. A cathedral school in Linköping can be traced back to at least 1266 and is possible the first of its kind in Sweden. For a long time it was situated in this building at the main street.


The Cathedral school

There after we went to Linköpings castle which has one of the oldest cellars possibly from the 12th and the 13th century. On of the oldest parts is the well that is more than 12 meters deep while this roof is from the 15th century.


The Castle


The well

The interior

The 15th century roof

The cellar at Konsistoriehuset is from the 13th or 14th century is clothed in bricks which is unusual.


The cellar at Bishops mansion was restored in 2006 and has two rooms and is probably from the 14th century


The last cellar is the cellar at Domprostgården (Dean’s mansion) a bit smaller and has houseguests in the form of spiders; The European cave spider, Meta Menardi, a long-jawed orb-weaving spider in the Tetragnathidae family.

There is yet more to come from Linköping

Best wishes


Magnus Reuterdahl

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