Category Archives: Kronobergs county

Returning to Växjö

This week I’ll work in Vaxjo, Kronoberg County, and I’ve gotten a heads up concerning the possibility to use a cell phone and my wireless broadband where we live – so updates might be scarce the coming week.

Best wishes

Magnus Reuterdahl

Drawin frozen in time?

This is a memorial post on Darwin; He would have been 200 years old if evolution allowed it, as it didn’t this post is in remembrance of him as a scientist and person. The theory of evolution was perhaps not a work of a single mind but it was presented by one man who had the guts to stand up for his beliefs though ridiculed by some of his pears. Ridiculous as it sounds he still is by some!

Caricature of Charles Darwins theory of evolution, 18th cent.
Caricature of Charles Darwins theory of evolution, 18th cent.

I’ve never understood the fear of being related to apes or other animals, I rather look at it as George Eliot (1819-1880); “If Darwin’s theory should be true, it will not degrade man; it will simply raise the whole animal world into dignity, leaving man as far in advance as he is at present” . This said I don’t doubt Darwin’s theory, though it can be and has been evolving since it was first told/printed.


In spirit of this, this post is more about theories and ideas in general than on Darwin per se. A theory flourish, evolve and is criticized and this is the very soul of a theory, it thrives as long as it’s being questioned, used and tested. Thereafter it becomes a footnote or a parenthesis in science history. This led me to think of a few articles I’ve read the last few months on UNESCO’s decision that traditions and customs are to be classified as world heritages. The aim is to find representative traditions and customs that we want to protect and preserve.

What would happen if theories and ideas were to become classified as world heritages? It isn’t all that farfetched; the idea of making an immaterial or intangible world heritage isn’t new. A few years back the idea of making Carl Linnaeus (Carl von Linné) into a world heritage was set in play, or rather the heritage of Linnaeus. Besides protecting and preserving buildings, parks etc the aim is also the environment where one can find traces of Linnaeus’ research. It might include plants and animals that are still present in the countryside, in gardens and in places where Linnaeus’ disciples made their collections. In other words a world heritage concerning Science and Technology.

Linneaus Rashult
Linneaus Rashult

What would happen if this is applied on ideas or theories? To protect and preserve!

Would an idea or a theory suddenly be untouchable/unchangeable if it became a world heritage? Would it be submitted to committees regarding what or how the theory should be interpret or used?

I don’t much like the idea of making traditions and customs into world heritages. It is the protect and preserve part I am questioning; I feel this is the something that rather belongs in an ethnographic/anthropological museum.

For example;

In Sweden there is talk about making the process of fermented herring a world heritage; I ask how? There are more than one way to produce this, such as diffrent local customs. Who will decide what the proper way? There is a risk of freezing the tradition or stopping it from evolving and in so making it stagnate and in the end perish. Evan worse if say a tradition as Midsummer’s eve would become a world heritage. The customs are changing, the people celebrating it are changing and probably the reason for celebrating is changing over time?  If this became a world heritage what would to protect and preserve mean?

I see traditions and customs as evolutionary phenomenons. It is the task of museums, journalists, authors and researchers to record how, why and when we do things so that the knowledge isn’t lost. I don’t see any gain in petrify these with the risk of making them stagnate or become obsolete and foreign to those living with them. If they do not change with time and with the users they will wither and fade. I belive that this is as true concerning ideas and theories as well, they need to be used and misused, to go where no man (or ape) has gone before.

Happy Birthday Mr Darwin, where ever you are, and may your memory be used, misused and evolving.

Magnus Reuterdahl

I’m for sale!

And obviously I’m worth 150 Swedish kronor (ca 13€ or 17 US $) in the second hand book store Classica antikvariat in Vaxjo. Well not me but a book I wrote while working at Kronoberg county administrative board. The book or rather the report is called I Rotvältors land (In the land of uprooted trees) concerns the surveys of ancient monuments in 2005 and 2006 due to the storm Gudrun, see this post among others.


Växjö 2007. 175 sid. Rikt illustrerad med fotografier i färg, tabeller och diagram. Stort format, 30×20 cm. Häftad med omslagsbild. Nyskick. (Länsstyrelsens meddelande, 2007:03).
– Sammanfattning av skadeinventeringarna av stormen Gudruns skador på fornlämningar som gravar, gravfält, begravningsplatser, bebyggelselämningar, boplatser, agrara lämningar och fossil åker.

Boknummer: 26455

Pris: 150 kr.


Magnus Reuterdahl

Urminne nr 7 2008

A new issue of Urminne (7/2008) is available, Urminne is a periodical concerning prehistoric and medieval issues in the Swedish provinces Småland, Öland and Östergötland. All articles are written in Swedish and it is possible to order it from Jonkoping County museum.


In this issue me and colleague; Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay, have an article; Tre oväntade fynd från Ottenby Kungsgård, Öland (Three unexpected finds at Ottenby Kungsgård).

Abstract: This paper presents three somewhat unexpected finds made in connection to the excavation in 2004 of a Pitted Ware site (Neolithic) at Ottenby Royal Manor on the southernmost part of Öland, Sweden. The first find to be treated here was identified during the excavation, and consists of an Early Medieval glass bead of Hungarian origin, of a type not previously documented from the Scandinavian area. The other two finds were identified during the osteological analysis; in the material from the 2004 excavation a Gannet (Morus bassanus, formerly known as Sula bassana) was identified, being the first of this species from a prehistoric context on Öland and the forth find from the large islands in the Baltic Sea altogether. Secondly whilst analysing bones from the 1991 excavation at the site a previously unidentified human bone was identified.

Magnus Reuterdahl

The other articles are (sorry I haven’t translated ´em);

– Jörgen Gustafsson: “Paradis i inland”
– Magnus Reuterdahl & Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay: “Tre oväntade fynd från Ottenby Kungsgård, Öland”
– Michael Dahlin: “Låt gravarna berätta! Några nygamla bronsåldersgravar i södra Tjust”
– Alexandra Nylén & Åsa Jönsson: “Gripeberg. En fornborg i Smålands inland”
– Christina Helander: “Att tända den livsgnista som släckts. En tolkning av två stensättningar i Bäckseda”
– Erika Räf: “Varifrån kom järnet? Om framställning av blästjärn i Östergötland under förhistorien”
– Mikael Nordström: “Död mans dörr och järnåldersdösens gåta”
– Anna Kloo Andersson: “Hälsa och ohälsa under medeltid och efterreformatorisk tid i södra Vätterbygden. Med utgångspunkt från skeletten i Barnarps kyrka”
– Rickard Wennerberg: “Skogens svarta guld. Undersökning av kolframställningsplatser i Nifsarp utanför Eksjö”
– Leif Häggström: Om viljan att kommunicera resultat. En analys av olika aktörers publiceringsfrekvens från en småländsk horisont”

I am on my way (home) to Stockholm

It is time to return to Stockholm after another period in Växjö, this time c. 4 months. The project time has out and I have emptied and cleaned out my office. Now all I can to is to send applications and wait and see what or if any other projects opens up, in Växjö or otherwise.

There are possiblities as well, now I finally will have time to visit the Museum of National Antiquities new exhibit; Prehistories part 2 (Forntider del 2), work on a couple af articles and do some work on the Yangshao project.

I leave Växjö with this picture in mind, a beautiful grave filed in Nöbbele parish, RAÄ 3:1. In the foreground a triangular unfilled stone setting. The graves are hooked into each other like the tarand graves.

grave field

Magnus Reuterdahl

A slow week?

It feels like this has been a slow week, though it has been filled with a lot of work, but mostly slow work. As my employment here in Växjö is rushing towards the end there are a lot of loose knots to tie, small projects to finish and small reports to make.  

Next week it will be more be more of an action week, as I need to visit some ancient monuments. Some I need to photo for a small project and some we need to visit to gain more information before we make any decisions concerning them or the area around them. So next week I’ll have a few archaeo-pictures for you.  

The most interesting subject this week was a presentation made by the National Heritage board concerning the new handbook on contract-archaeology. Lots of good stuff and intensions in there, though it means a higher burden of job on both the county administrative board and the contract-archaeologists. Anyhow it was an interesting and giving day. 

Magnus Reuterdahl

Cup marks or are they?

Cup marks is a type of rock art, in Småland these represent the most usual type of rock art. In Kronoberg County there are ca 540 sites where rock art has been registered (see FMIS). With a site I mean (in this case) that one or several carved, engraved or polished figures have been made on flat rocks or on boulders. The cup marks found in these parts are often ca 3-6 cm in diameter and 0,5-2 cm in depth. It is assumed that most of these are from the Bronze Age, though there are those that are assumed to be older and younger some from the Middle Ages or more recent periods. I

“Standard” Smålandic prehistoric cup marks made upon a boulder.

Cup marks Berg 52

They are not that easy to spot, as they do not have sharp edges, their edges are smooth and this makes near to invisible, there fore I have made a ring around one of them.

Cup mark

A few days ago a colleague and me visited one of these sites. As we studied the cup marks we began discussing wheatear or not these particular cup marks where cup marks or not. These cup marks have a mark after a chisel at the bottom why we argue that these probably are due to more modern activities, probably to make holes to dived big boulders like this one. This particular boulder has been split into at least two parts. Normally the cup marks look like they have been grinded or polished.

Remains that resembles like “cup marks” with chisel marks

Cup mark?

 Cup marks?

We are open to other interpretations as well though we believe that ours is a plausible one.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Storm report 2008

The storm never reached the feared strength over Kronoberg County, though ca 3300 household was with out power for a time. Some trees have fallen due to the storm, though there are no reports concerning damaged ancient monuments as yet.

The storm was originally reported as Hugo, but as the storm never reached the feared strength it never got named.

Though we don’t know of any damages of ancient monuments in Kronobergs County the strongest storm gusts has been reported in Västra Götaland, the northern parts of Jönköping and Kalmar County and in Östergötland.

Magnus Reuterdahl

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

Extension of employment

Today I got information that I got an extension on my employment at the County Administrative board of Kronoberg until the end of February. That means that I can take some vacation days during Christmas. It also means that I will be stationed in Växjö for another two months.

Magnus Reuterdahl

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