Archaeology in Stockholm County part 3

It has taken me a little longer than planed but here comes the notes the from the final three (6-9) seminars held at “Archeology in Stockholm County 2009” at the County Administrative Board of Stockholm 2010. Link to part one and two.

On the marine archaeological work at the harbour of Birka

Johan Rönnby, Department of Culture and Communication; Archaeology, Södertörn University and Anders Olsson, the national maritime Museums

At the moment a status report on marine archaeological investigations is being compiled. Since the 17th century it has been known, and marked on maps, that there are construction under the water outside of Birka’s black earth (i.e. the area where the city once was). Traditionally these have been interpreted as a barrier of posts with the intent of controlling the boat traffic outside of Birka. There are a lot of finds that are showing a different story; there are remains of piers, posts and stone coffins, outside the black earth as well as outside of other places around the island. On some posts are features of construction that is more like those found at Bulverket on Gotland and at Hedeby (Haithabu). This indicates a more complex pattern than a just barriers, such as large bridges, poles where ships had to wait or anchor outside of the harbour; Who had access to the port of Birka? Who were using the ports outside of the town?, etc.

In 2008 test excavations under water outside of Birka’s black earth were carried out. These showed cultural layers that are about 1 meter thick, in which they find animal bones (carcass residues or waste food?), wood chips, sawdust, plugs, dowels, construction details for boats such as a keel to a Viking Age ship, tools and residues of rope. There is evidence to suggest that the keel never been used, but perhaps manufactured in or imported to Birka for a ship that never was built, or to be sold off to a ship builder etc.

Later this spring the compiling report and suggestions for future research will be put forth.

A boat grave at Mörby, Turinge parish

Sten Tesch, Sigtuna museum and Annika Larsson

This particular boat grave has been more or less lost in the literature and therefore Sten Tesch found it interesting to bring it fourth again. The results of this project will be presented more in detail at a seminar in Uppsala on 8 April.

The boat burial was found during the excavation of the grave field and settlement  Turinge 165:1 in1972. The Grave field contained 69 graves including 23 fire graves, 36 skeleton grave, ten empty burials and 30 children’s graves. The children’s graves were small rectangular burial pits, in these no bones were preserved. At the grave field was also cairns with chippings stone/fire cracked stones. The graves had few finds besides the bones and the preservation conditions were poor. The woman buried (tooth enamel) in this boat grave was buried together with a horse skull, parts of a bridle, oval-shaped twin-brooches, circular pendants, a knife, etc. She was laid on a bed of grass and straw and the entire tomb was covered with birch bark. The boat is a distended and elevated log boat, which is a common type of in boat burials, with 5 frames and 3 rowing pairs. It’s been ca 7.5 m long and 1,2-1,4 m wide. Of the wood only residue was to be found and then ca 250 boat nails.

Annika Larsson has studied the textile fragments found on the oval-shaped twin-brooches. Among other things, she interprets that oval-shaped twin-brooches been placed on top of the breasts rather than on the clavicles, and therefore held up an open dress, and thus probably had a more of a ceremonial role.

The Dominican convent in Sigtuna

Anders Wikström, Sigtuna Museum& Anders Wiberg, the Archaeological Research Laboratory (AFL), Stockholm University

A research excavation was carried out on the remains of the Sigtuna Dominican convent in 2009, founded by a private donation. The excavation was preceded by an exploration of geo radar. The Convent was founded in 1237 adjacent to St Mary’s Church that was opened in 1247. The Convent is one of 11 brethren convents in Sweden, there were also two sister convents. The Convent was demolished in 1529 in connection with the Swedish reformation.

Geographically the convent was situated in the northeast part of Sigtuna. The Convent has been partly excavated on several occasions, the first carried out in 1890’s, however no excavation have been in the Convents internal parts. To ensure that the excavation would have the best possible outcome it was decided to prospect the area with Geo radar. Anders Wiberg from AFL carried out the prospection and the results were pleasing – a clear picture of the walls below ground level emerged though some areas were problematic, probably due landfills and previous work. Among other things the prospection showed a previously unknown labatorie. Based on the prospection, it was decided to excavate the area around the labatorie and the adjacent southern wall, dating to ca 1300. During the excavation they found older walls showing a previous building phase.

– The prospection may be regarded as very successful and demonstrates the value of such methods, however, the project also shows that one can not remove excavations from the equation.

John Wendesjö, Stockholm city museum, was unfortunately sick so there was no seminar on the excavations at Spånga church – a completed project by.

These seminar type of gatherings arranged by County administrative boards for archaeologists working within the county, and sometimes as in Stockholm also open for others, is becoming more common and is a great way of meeting colleges and getting the big picture of what is and has been going on within the County. This year the seminars in Stockholm had a profile lingering more towards research excavations than assignment archaeology, which is great, but I missed a section of discussion on what the County board believes can be better – how we as assignment archaeologist can be better and how they as can be better; methods, applications, reports etc. I.e. a forum for ideas for the future. Anyhow – a great work by the County administrative board – many thanks!

Magnus Reuterdahl


These notes should not be used as references, if you’re interested I’m sure the people behind the seminars are happy to help you.

These are memory notes so there might very well a few faults or misunderstandings among them, if you find anything that is wrong or out of place please contact me so that I can fix it.

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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

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