In recent weeks I have been working in the field with an archaeological survey in northern Jämtland, and next week we go again. Nature up here, in the north of Sweden is magnificent and the scenery is grand. The seemingly endless forests and the closeness to the mountains are ever present and so are the marshlands. Small and big the marches runs through the forests between small hills and ridges.
As beautiful as they can be they also poses problems, they are wet and sometimes difficult to pass through and foremost they are the breeding grounds for insects such as mosquitoes, flies and wasps. This year they breed in masses thanks to the wet spring and warm summer. Once your out walking these mini-beasts follows you in forms of swarms and when you stop to describe a remain or take a quick break the sky is almost completely blackened by them. As if this isn’t bad enough the eternal buzz they make almost drives you insane, it is never quiet – for those of you who have seen the World Cup in South Africa earlier this summer think vuvuzelas – and you’ll get the idea.
What do we find? Here as everywhere traces of human activity is everywhere if you know where to look. On the mountain sides the summer pastures where an important complement to the farms. Some are still used and in fine conditions but most have long been deserted and all we find are the remains; house foundations, traces of cleared areas and fields, clearance cairns, etc. We also find traces of other activities in the forest such as charcoal burning sites and hunting pits. The hunting pits are often found on small hills and ridges; sometimes there’s only one, sometimes in pairs and sometimes in big systems.
This one is ca 4 m in diameter, 1,5 m in depth and surrounded by a low earth bank. It was probably used for hunting moose (elk) or reindeer. This method of hunting is old and has been used since the Stone Age until1864, it was at least outlawed in 1864 in Sweden.