Thoughts when on an archaeological survey

At the moment I’m working on an archaeological investigation (AI) just outside Lerum, ca 5 miles east of Gothenburg. With an AI means to investigate if there are any ancient monuments or cultural remains in an area that someone wants to exploit. The work aims towards the exploiter so that he/she might decide if the enterprise at hand is doable and for the county administrative board as basis for a decision if an enterprise is to be allowed or not and if any restrictions are to be set.

The first step is to study historic maps; the ancient monument records (FMIS), the archaeological topographic archive (ATA), and previous research and reports etc. Thereafter an archaeological or perhaps more correclty a culture historical survey in the area is done; where one visit known remains as well as areas without known remains and describes these areas and how the enterprise might affect them.

As one walks around the area in search for ancient and cultural remains you’re bound to find traces of human activity such as traces of forestry. Tracks from heavy machinery and soil preparation are visible for a long time. Other things are hunting towers and other traces such as salt rocks for elk etc.

 salt rock

At this small tree a salt rock was placed.

Other remains are more unexpected such as these from a triangular point at the peak Linneas huvud (Linnea’s head).




Not yet an ancient remain but still remains after human activity.

Last week I worked in Ostertalje just east of Sodertalje some miles south of Stockholm on a mission much like this and I found this garbage. It is the remains, pushed down a slope, of a small farm or croft; pieces of glass, shards of porcelain, bits and pieces of iron and hardware – today garbage – tomorrow it might very well be part of an archaeological excavation and those valuable finds in an interpretation.


Back to Lerum. The remains of the triangular point might not be considered garbage as it seems to have some meaning, a practical purpose of sorts. But one finds a lot of other things such as burnt out car wrecks; here a Volvo, a Ford and an Audi.


Mayhap not be a pretty sight though other garbage can be useful, at the ruins of a small farm I found this piece of a newspaper between the stones.


It is dated to July 9th 1946 and tells me that at that time the house probably was still in use.

I like to do surveys of this sort, to walk through different landscapes and see “new” things, traces of the past and present. Much isn’t all that old as this corduroy(kavelbro) but still it’s gives you a bit of a buzz when you find it.


But at times it’s frustrating as the forests are too thick which makes it difficult and unpleasant to go through…



…but in the end when you find a beautiful place or remains of some sort, like this water mill that’s easily forgotten.


I have some great pictures of the rune stones at Fresta church that I’ll share in a few days but now it’s high time to get some food.

Best wishes 

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 “Thoughts when on an archaeological survey

  • mickmorrison

    Thank you for the interesting post on your work!

    • Magnus Reuterdahl

      Thanks, the content of the post tends to depend on what I currently is occupied with. The last seven or eight months I’ve worked indoors which have its perks but its back to nature and some hands on archaeology. Btw I saw that your switching blogs and coming to the wordpress family – welcome!

      Magnus Reuterdahl

  • New week, new locality « Testimony of the spade

    […] follow a couple of days of survey work in Lerums municipality, in the same area I was a month ago; Rävbacka because they want to use another area for wind energy […]

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