Category Archives: Middle ages

Runic et Mediævalia 2011

Tonight is the society Runic et Mediævalia holds its annual meeting. After the meeting is held the traditional lecture. This year it’s about Bero Magni (Björn Magnusson). For me he is an unknown but in 15th century Vienna he was probably one of the most reverend Swedes at the time. For more than 30 years he taught as a magister regens at the University at the philosophy department. He donated his library to to the dome in Skara, Sweden. The books are since long lost but through documents about it many of the 138 books are possible to identify. The lecture is hold by Ph.D. Erika Kihlman.

As always it will be both interesting to go to hear the lecture and nice to meet up with acquaintances at the following dinner.

If you’re not a member and you’re interested to promote research on runes and medieval languages, culture and society then join up and get the newest on the topic through the book series edited and issued by Runic et Mediævalia, divided into series Scripta Maior, Scripta minora, Opuscula and Lectiones. Note that most are written in Swedish. More info is available through the webpage.

Magnus Reuterdahl

 

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4th annual archaeology seminar in Blankaholm

Michael Dahlin

This weekand we visited Blankaholm on the Swedish east coast for the Blankaholm seminars arranged by archaeologist and local resident Michael Dahlin, who is also the man behind the Swedish archaeology blog Misterhultaren.

All seminars are connected via the prehistory or history of the Swedish east coast, the themes are varied as well as the periods. All in all it was a very nice session with many nice meetings, new and old, and lots of information.

The previous three seminars are available in the books Forntiden längs ostkusten 1 (2010) and 2 (2011) (Ancient times along the east shores) both edited by Kenneth Alexandersson et al.

I will not go into detail on the seminars but only give a short recap of them to present what can be expected of the coming Forntiden längs ostkusten 3 and the 2012 seminars.

Day 1

The meeting started with a quick presentation of the seminars and Blankaholm by Michael Dahlin

Pierre Petersson

followed by a seminar by the same on the late Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements on the east coast of Småland. On surveys from the 30’s until today and future projects. The seminars continued by another Swedish archaeology blogger Pierre Petersson the man behind the blog AHIMKAR. In this seminar we move forward in time to the middle ages and thoughts on living conditions for the nobility and ordinary man. Pierre put forward an interesting example site Kläckeberga church, its surroundings and the findings that has been done via archaeological excavations etc. From the

Kenneth Alexandersson

middle ages we take a big leap back in time. Kenneth Alexandersson from Kalmar County museum presented the results from a settlement excavation just south of Kalmar airport. The expected finds was an Iron Age settlement but they found a Stone Age site dated to ca 9000 BP instead. After this we move north to the south of Norrland as Michel Guinard and Therese Ekholm presents the project Nordic Blade

Michel Guinard

Technology network which concerns the earliest habitants after the latest Ice Age. Two sites, one that has been situated in the inland and one by the coast are currently excavated by students and scientists. Larforsen is located in Hälsingland, dated to ca 7200 BC, and Torsåker in Gästrikland are several small settlements, dated to ca 8500-5000 BC. There are several specialists involved such as osteololgist Therese Ekholm who will study

Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay & Therese Ekholm

bones from the hearths looking at spices as well as dating. We return to Småland and hits the neolithics once again as Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay discuss the Funnelbeaker culture. The funnelbeakers are considered as the first real farmers in Sweden. Ludvig is working with materials from the island Öland in his post-doc research. Among them results from a settlement excavation at Resmo. The day ends with another fellow archaeology blogger Martin Rundkvist from Aardvarchaeology who spoke on projects done and projects to come concerning Bronze Age sacrifical deposits, in both wetlands and on human settlements, etc. His idea is to look for the sites found in the late 1800’s and first half of the 1900s and excavate these again. By categorize them due to location and natural features etc. create models to predict where to find new places. Almost all sites we know of today were found by framers while draining wetlands to create new farmland or working behind the plow seeing what it plowed up. This ended the sessions of day 1.

Martin Rundkvist

Day 2

Sven Gunnar Broström and Kenth Ihrestam

The day began with Kenth Ihrestam and Sven Gunnar Broström presenting their survey finds of Bronze Age rock art in Casmirsborg (MEM) some miles north of Västervik. During their latest surveys the number of known figures has increased from 13 to 175. They have found several large finds of ship carvings, people, foot soles, animals etc. From art to Claus Ruskas land transactions in the

John Hutto

Middle Ages. John Huttu described the way from middle class to the gentry, from the city to land ownership and what can be found in medieval diplomas. Tar production was probably a big deal during the middle ages – Veronica Palm from Kalmar County Museum and Västerviks

Veronica Palm

museum goes forward in time and tells a tale of a tar production site from the 18th century. The site was just outside of Målilla and excavated in 2010. Very nice findings and interesting results. Back to prehistoric times with Joakim Wehlin (sorry all pics were out of focus) who research ship settings on Gotland. There is a much larger material than I knew; in total 380 are known at Gotland whereof ca 100 are excavated. Joakim told us about an interesting excavation from this summer where they found a double grave in a small round stone setting just next to a ship setting. An interesting project to follow! Last speaker of the day was Rune Johansson who works as a nurse and are studying archaeology. He presented his thoughts on archaeology as a rehabilitation tool. As all people have a history most have a connection with the past and therefore it is a way to get people interested. There are also several things in archaeology that can be therapeutic, walks in woods, feeling artefacts, associations between artefacts and modern things, being part in projects such as digs etc.

Rune Johansson

I would like to thank all involved who made this a great weekend. I will be back 🙂

Magnus Reuterdahl



Runica et Mediævalia 2010 editions

New books on my reading list, from Runica et Mediævalia:

Det senmedeltida Stockholm – en språklig och kulturell smältdegel (The late medieval Stockholm – a linguistic and cultural melting pot). Stefan Mähl. Sällskapet Runica et Mediævalia Lectiones 9, 2010.

Bebådelsebilder. Om bildbruk under medeltiden (Annunciation pictures. About use of pictures during the Middle Ages.). Mia Åkestam. Runica et Mediævalia Scripta mimora 19. 2010.

S:t Sigfrid besjungen. Celebremus karissimi, ett helgonofficium från 1200-talet (Songs on S:t Sigfrid. Celebremus karissimi, a saint officium from the 1200s). Edition och kommentarer av Ann-Marie Nilsson. Runica et Mediævalia Scripta maiora 6. 2010

Magnus Reuterdahl


Excavation at Rissne on Swedish Radio

Currently I’m employed by Arkeologikonsult at the excavations of a grave field in Rissne, Stockholm. The grave field is from the late Viking Age or the early middle ages. The burials are mainly Christian, buried in coffins, but the graves have superstructures that are a relic of ancient burial forms, such as stone settings or mounds, and the dead are still buried at the farmstead grave field rather than at a cemetery by a church.

SR (Swedish Radio) program Vetenskapsradion history (Science Radio: History) has a report on the excavation on the show (in Swedish) under the title The Spectres at Rissne. Pictures from the excavation are available at Arkeologikonsults webpage.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Skokloster Abbey

A few days ago I wrote about a visit to Skokloster castle and published some photos, now it is time for some interior shots.

Sko church was built by the order of Cistercians as the nuns at Byarum in Smaland started to move to Uppland in the 13th century. It’s believed that work started ca 1230, ca 1280 is the inauguration of the high altar of the church, by then the nuns might have moved to Sko. As most medieval churches it has been added to, restored and changed over the centuries.

Skokloster kyrka interiör

Interior Skokloster Abbey

crucifix Skokloster kyrka

Crucifix, made of oak, mid-1200s.

Madonna, made of oak, the child’s head of hardwood, possible from Gotland, first quarter of the 1300s.

The Herman Wrangel monument in the grave Wrangelska choir. The sculpture is made by Daniel Anckermann (German) ca 1650.

Herman Wrangel golden armor

There are two artistic representations of the Battle of Gorzno in Skokloster Abbey, an oil painting and the stucco on the wall of the Wrangel tomb chapel.

The stucco is divided into a lower lot, where the battle scenes take place in a forest and river scenery, and a top where Swedish and Polish armies are seen in bird’s eye view, the Poles on the left and the Swedes on the right side. The stucco is based on a drawing preserved in the war archive, in Stockholm.

The information on the stucco is from an article in Fornvännen 1939 by Wilhelm Nisser; Daniel Anckermans stuckaturer i de Gyllenhemska och Wrangelska gravkoren (pdf in Swedish).

Magnus Reuterdahl


Currently on the bedstand.

I’m a member of the society Runica et Mediævalia (link in Swedish). The Society was formed in 1990 and aims to promote research on runes and medieval languages (mainly Scandinavian), culture and society, primarily through the issuance of the publication series Runic et Mediævalia etc. As a member I get the publications every now and then as they are beeing published, last week two books arrived; The first is; Den medeltida skriftkulturen i Sverige (The medieval writing culture in Sweden) – Inger Larsson [ed.], This is a book I’ll come back to in future post. The second one is Kung Magnus och hans smädesnamn Smek (King Magnus and his libel nick name Smek = caress, stroke, fondle or…) by Olle Ferm.

The last is the one I currently read, it concerns a factoid regarding king Magnus Eriksson libel nick name Smek, where the nick name has been interpret as proof king Magnus was homosexual. Magnus Eriksson was the Swedish king between 1319-1363. Among other things he got conned by the Danish king Valdemar Attedag and by being so lost the province Scania to Denmark and he was accused of being homosexual by Saint Birgitta of Vadstena and others. Due to the accusations an interpretation of the nick name Smek was made as meaning fondle, caress, stroke was made, in the meaning that he liked to fondle other men. Olle Ferm brings forth another interpretation where Smek rather has the meaning “someone who has been conned by flattery”, i.e. King Valdemar conned him out of Scania with flattery.

Olle Ferm has produced a kind of historic detective book that is a pleasant and interesting read, giving a background to the word Smek and how it’s been interpreted through the ages, but also on the political situation of the time as well as on history scholars and their work. Wheatear or not king Magnus was gay or not is not something the author studies in this work, at least not yet – I haven’t finished it yet. Evan though I haven’t finished it I can recommend this to those who are interested in the history and politics of medieval Sweden as well as to those who like the study of words and language.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Medieval Stockholm on display

The entrance to the Museum of Medieval Stockholm, in the background to the left is the royal castle and the Old town and to the right Sveriges Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament building).

For those of you that are not familiar with Stockholm, it’s the capitol of Sweden; the city was founded during the 12th or 13th century and became the capitol during the 15th century. Still there are lots of traces of the medieval town to been seen, in the Old City, in some of the churches and of course in museum exhibits and collections. The Museum of Medieval Stockholm is build around a part of the city wall that was found during excavations at Helgeandsholmen (The Island of the Holy Spirit) between 1978 and 1980 and opened in 1986.

The city wall, or what’s left of it

The museum has undergone renovations and been closed since 2007. This weekend the Museum of Medieval Stockholm reopened. I took a few pictures and rather than a long post I’ll let them do most of the talking. A few notes; the museum has gotten a facelift, a few modifications on the old exhibit and a few new installments. I feel it’s all for the better, it’s less crowded and bit more airy and concentrated. A new feature is a “science fair” where archaeologists and specialists such as osteologists talks (on small video screens) on their work, on methods and results or so I was told – there a bit noisy with all the visitors – so I’ll take a rain check on them but it seemed interesting enough for a re-visit, that and the fact that I know a couple of the people on those screens. A few things are still missing such as information signs and such – but I’m sure it’ll all work out just fine.

Life in a bubble?

Welcome to the abandoned land,

come on in child,

take my hand…

Now life in medival time time was hard but probably not quite as grim, though these bones tells a story of some that had a pretty hard life

these bones, belonged to someone that wasn’t all that well (the second from the front displays a femur (thigh bone)), thank God for modern day medicine and doctors.

This is a human spine which have ossified due to disease, possibly some kind of arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis

and for those unlucky enough it all ended here…

…at the gallows end

others lived out there life within the city

as working men or women

-Wanna buy some bread!

…others choose a different life, a new part of the exhibit is about cloisters, devoting their lives to the almighty and his works

here is the cloister garden

while yet others served the more worldly powers

Stockholm on display!

Stockholm as it looked to a medieval artist

Here a more modern approach on how the medieval town was layed out

If you’re in Stockholm looking for a good museum or to kill a few hours the Museum of Medieval Stockholm is a good choice.

I’ll close it all up with a few words from those who were Stockholmare then, and made this  rune stone

//Magnus Reuterdahl


Uppgränna 2009

 Uppgränna 1

A few weeks ago I passed Uppgränna, a small community just north of Gränna on the east shore of lake Vättern. Uppgränna is a beautiful small community beneath the shadow of the ruin Brahehus. Brahehus was built in 1650 and destroyed in a fire 1708, more info and pictures can be seen here.

Uppgränna Brahehus

Uppgränna Brahehus 2

Besides the view one can also see this rune stone (Sm 122) in Uppgränna.

Sm 122

Inscription; suin : risþi : stina : þesi : eftiR : oslak : auk : eftiR : kuta : sun : hons : en : oslaks : uas : bruþiR : suins :

Translation; Sven raised these stones after Áslakr and after Goti, his son. And Áslakr was Sven’s brother.

The inscription indicates that Sven raised more stones than one.

Minnessten Uppgränna kapell

Only a few meters from the rune stones is a spring, St. Gertruds spring, by which a small chapel, Helga korsets kapell (the chapel of the holy cross) was built during the Middle Ages and served in the 1700s, it is also said that there was a grave field with mounds here. Of the chapel there is nothing left and as far as I know there are no visible traces of the cemetery either, though the source is still filled fresh water, but it is on private land.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Summer vacation 2009 part 7; Lodose museum

Last Wendsday we went to Vastergotland and Lodose museum, the plan were to go to Lodose (Lödöse) museum and then slowly return via the northen parts of Vastergotland to Jonkoping stopping at ancient monuments etc, the weather got a bit bad though so all we did was visiting the museum, which in itself was well worth the trip.

Lödöse museum building

A model scale 1:1 displaying the thickness of the cultural layers

A model scale 1:1 displaying the thickness of the cultural layers

Lodose is small town ca 40 km north of Gothenburg.  Lodose is possible best known for the finds from the medieval town, ca 1/3 of the medieval town has been excavated, the cultural layers are up to 4 m in depth and more than 150000 finds has been registered.  Lodose oldest parts as a town is from the 10th century, this is not say that there isn’t older phases, it was one of Sweden’s main port and trading cities in the Middle Ages and for a long time the only facing west. Due to changing natural conditions the operations were relocated during the late 1400’s and 1500’s to what came to be Gothenburg and in 1646 and Lödöse lost its town privileges.

The museum is primarily an archaeological museum with a focus on the medieval town Lodose but they also have a nice exhibit on the prehistory in the Gota river valley.  The museum opened in 1965, and the new museum opened in 1994.

I must say I like this museum, is just big  and/or small enough, the premises are fresh and the exhibits interesting. The exhibits are what could be called a bit traditional (which I find positive) but at the same time it feels fresh and up to date, lets call it post pomo pro retro.

There are plenty of findings in the displays, they are partly broken down in traditional groupings such as trade, port activities, crafts, etc. but the  artifacts returns in several contexts which shows that they are multicontextual, eg. it dispalys that we must interpret them according to the context . The information is narrative but leaves room for interpretations and questions, though the visitor isn’t left on his or her own as I feel has been the case in some museums in latter years. This is an example of a museum that uses their collection in a good way, that trusts the value of the artifacts in themselves and in their contexts and dares to tell the story of them. This is the kind of museum that I like!

I took some pictures of the displays and on some finds

From the medieval exhibit;

A cannon

 Lödöse museum cannon

Swords

Lödöse museum swords

Knife sheath made of tree and lead

 Lödöse museum knife

Make a coin, I did

 Lödöse museum make a coin

Medieval shoes

 Lödöse museum shoes

Bone flutes

 Lödöse museum bone flutes

A funt of tree

 Lödöse museum funt

As you can see below runic inscriptions can be carved into almost any object. These medieval finds shows that runes were used by all groups in the cities, in other words rune literacy during the Middle Ages are high in the cities. Still we find very few finds of this sort in the country side though this might be due to preservation possibilities. In the deep cultural layers of the medieval towns there is a much better chance for objects of tree or leather to be preserved.

At the back; part of a Besman scale, in front; a measuring tool with a rune inscription.

 Lödöse museum runes

A thresh tool with a runic inscription

 Lödöse museum runes 2

Two calendar stick with a runic inscription

 Lödöse museum runes 3

Lödöse museum runes 4

From the prehistoric exhibit;

Antler from a reindeer and a jaw from a polar bear. The finds are dated to ca 13000-10500 BP, in other words from the end of the ice age.

 Lödöse museum reindeer

Stone Age axes

Lödöse museum stone age axes

Flint micro chips or microliths in displayed as the they were in the elder days

 Lödöse museum stone age flint microliths

These flint scrapers are either from the late Neolithics or the Bronze Age.

Lödöse museum Stone age scrapes daggers

Bronze Age swords

Lödöse museum Bronze Age swords

The next display is a 3-D model of the Gota river valley on which is projected how the country has raised itself and the valley has changed over the last 12 000 years, since the last ice age, and how man has taken possession of the landscape. A good presentation that is clear and makes it easy to see the changes, man made as well as natural. I miss one thing though and that is markers that show where today’s societies are. This is shown in the very beginning of the presentation but I feel that the presentation should gain on showing this all the way through.

Lödöse museum model Lödöse museum model2 Lödöse museum model3

If you’re in the neighborhood this is a museum you shouldn’t miss, it’s well worth a detour.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Summer vacation 2009 part 6; Ostergotland

On our way south we passed a few rune stones in Ostergotland. First out was Ög 190 in Vikingstad parish. It is dated to the 11th century and the inscription is “…erected this stone after Agute a good…”.

 Ög 190 runsten

As you can see the rune stone has been mended but some fragments are missing.

Next stop was the three rune stones; Ög 207-209, along an abandoned road (hålväg) by an prehistoric grave field in Viby parish. The stones are dated to the 11th century. Ög 207 and 208 are in their original place while Ög 209 was found nearby in the 1860’s and later placed here. The grave field predates the rune stones. The grave filed is used during the Iron Age but might have used also during the Bronze Age.

ög 207-209 and the abandoned road

The abandoned road, it’s known as the old country road in sources from the 17th century but is very possible as old as or older than the rune stones.

Ög 207

 Ög 207

Redulv and Gere erected this stone after Ofeg, their uncle, a good farmer.

Ög 208

 Ög 208

Vige erected this stone after Ofeg, his father.

Ög 209

Ög 209

Toste erected stone after Toke and Oruste, his nephews.

Magnus Reuterdahl


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