Category Archives: Prehistoric Grave fields

I am open to suggestions!

As it looks now; the coming Monday will be the start of my last month in Norrbotten County, at least for this time.  So in about a month I will be back in Stockholm – this has both pros and cons, it will be nice to come home but I will miss colleagues, work and newly acquired friends.

So it is high time to start job hunting. Luckily there are some openings, a few museums are looking for staff for the upcoming season and a couple of substitutes and also there are a few ads regarding employment at a couple of County Administrative Boards and at an archaeological entrepreneur.

This also means that it is time to update my CV and write something smart about myself. I’ve begun to contacting a few selected museums, archaeological entrepreneurs and County Administrative Boards that I would like to be associated with or work with.

This time around I’ve also turned to the international market and applied for a job at Museum of London; which could be very exacting.

In other words, I am open to suggestions! (Preferably regarding archeology or osteology).

Well I’ve got a month left of employment so I’ll know what to with my time, and luckly I also got a few days of vacation to use before March 31st; This will be used for among other things a trip to Thessaloniki in Greece at the end of the month.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Pitted ware culture thesis

Today I am going to the disputation of Petra Molnar; she will defend her thesis in Osteoarchaeology Tracing Prehistoric Activity – Life ways, habitual behaviour and health of hunter-gatherers on Gotland at Stockholm University. I’ve read the thesis which includes five articles on the neolithic pitted ware culture. She ‘s been studying traces of prehistoric stress through stress markers, dental wear and oral pathology, the graves and grave-goods, she has compared these Neolithics health status with the health status of those living in Sigtuna during the middle ages (interesting results) and she has been studying the link between osteoarthritis and activity.

The abstract is available here.

I’ll get back with a few more in depth thoughts of the thesis.

Magnus Reuterdahl


The grave field Ekornavallen

Our trip in Västergötland continued and our next stop on the way to Lake Horborga was the grave filed Ekornavallen.

Grave field, Västergötland, Prehistoric

Ekornvallen is a grave field with a very long continuity span, from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. The oldest graves are four passage tombs and a stone cist from the Neolithic Age, a great cairn from the Bronze Age, large stone settings, erect stones and stone circles from the Iron Age, besides this element from a fossilized landscape are visible on and around the grave field.

Passage tomb, Västergötland, Prehistoric grave field

Passage tomb

Prehistoric grave field, Västergötland

Overview from southeast, in the centre at the top lays the big cairn and to the left a passage tomb.

Ekornavallen, Prehistoric grave field, Västergötland

A filled round stone setting, 20-25 meter wide

Erect stones, västergötland, prehistoric grave field

Erect stones 

Ekornavallen, Västergötland, Prehistoric gravefield

Erect stone

The oldest graves are in other word ca 4-5000 years old and the youngest ca 1-2000 years old.

Spring is the absolute best time to do archeothingy-spotting. Just before nature really awakes the ancient monuments seem to pop up from the ground. All features gets so visable due to the fact that no new grass has begun to grow. At this grave field the caretakers helps visitors yet a bit by keeping the area and especially the remains that can be difficult to spot really tidy.

Read more about Ekornavallen at the National Heritage Boards webpage.

This grave field is really worth visiting.

Next stop VG 90 (A rune stone)!

Magnus Reuterdahl


Four Stone Hearth XXXII

Welcome to Testimony of the spade and to the Four Stone Hearth edition 32.

Iron Age dolmen Halland

The remains of an Iron Age dolmen, originally there has been a lid/roof stone and probably another erected stone.

I thought I’d open up this the 32 edition of the 4SH blog carnival with a few pictures taken last summer at a small Iron Age grave field in Halland county, Sodra Unnaryd parish. The grave field is called Bedjaror or RAA 58:1. In previous posts I’ve written about a grave type called Iron Age dolmen. This is a typical grave field that contains this type of dolmens; besides dolmens there are normally a few cairns flanked by erected stones and stone circles. This grave field is dated to the early Iron Age (500 BC-500 AD). More info about this grave type can be found in previous posts here, here and here.

iron Age grave field 2

Bedjaror as seen from southeast

Now lets get this show on the road:

Some of the posts have been recommended, others submitted and yet others found as I scavengered the net for interesting blogs.

Archaeology more often than not concerns remote periods, this time we move in to A Very Remote Time Indeed, where we can read the post: Kids did the darndest things. What evidence are there of children from Paleolithic time, except skeletal? The reader of this post gets awarded with a free pdf-article and should also check out Afarensis post on Neanderthal children.  We’ll hang on to the very remote periods for a little while longer as we move on to John Hawks that posts an interview with Michelle Drapeau. The interview is about her work on the anatomy of early hominids and her recent field work in Ethiopia. Remote Central brings us even further back in time as guest blogger Terry Toohill writes a post on the Mitochondrial Eve, from where or whom do we originate? 

We move on in time but stays on trail in the scrap yard of DNA, where there is more to find than mitochondria such as genes. From Aardvarchaeology comes a post on genes and humans. It is an interesting post that deals with the differences between humanistic traditions and natural sciences, but also how natural science is used within humanistic reserarch such as archaeology. Martin takes his starting point in the post From where came the Slavs published at the blog Gene Expression. The Aardvarchaeology post was published on the 14th and has already accumulated more than 60 comments, so it seems to be a hot topic. I would say that the comments are just as interesting as the post if not more so.

At SEArch – the Sotuheast Asian newsblog – the plain of jars in Laos is presented. This Iron Age relics are made out of solid stone boulders and can weigh up to 13 metric tons and range from 1m-3m in height. They are thought to be 1,500-2,000 years old. Read all about it here!

Archaeoporn gives us an insight modern day relic trade, the creation of cultural heritage and forgery ancient relics.

Moving on to osteology. From the blog Archaezoology comes a post concerning the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons in England, in the 5th century AD and the effect this had on animal husbandry. An interesting post that uses P. J. Crabtrees article Sheep, Horses, Swine and Kine: A Zooarchaeological Perspective on the Anglo-Saxon Settlement of England (Journal of Field Archaeology 16) from 1989 as a starting point.

From some bones to others. In this case teeth; human teeth. I just love that there is a blog about ancient teeth: Hominin Dental Anthrolopgy. This post is a review of Jeffrey H. Schwartz book What the Bones Tell Us.

We started out in remote periods of time and we end it all with a few more contemporary posts: As the relationship between archaeology and modernity is a growing concern for archaeologists the blog Archaeolog invites you to study the dark side of modernity. Even more contemporary is perhaps the question; What Google and Facebook has to do with paleanthropology asked and answerd at Anthroplogy.net

It feels like most of the post in this edition has concerned archaeology or been closely linked to archaeology (probably ’cause I’m an archaeologist) so this might seem a little out of place but I love cartoons so it’ll fit in here somehow. In India there seems to be a trend to create new domestic super heroes based on Indian mythology and folklore. I also wanna be cool and read Hanuman, (based on the monkey-headed Hindu god). Read more on Our Cultural world.

Mighty Hanuman Action Figure

Who wouldn’t want this cool Mighty Hanuman Action Figure

At the blog Waliking the Birkshires one can read about the adventures of Aaron Burr and Matthias Ogden in America during the 18th century.

Two other blogs I would like to include are Archaeoastronomy/Clioaudio that collects posting from different bloggs and prestent them in an easy access way and Archaeoblog that has been seving up old news since A.D. 2004. Great work!

Lastly I would like to thank all contributors for your effort, some knowingly others more or less shanghaied as their content found someone else’s eye or mine.

Do you want to host, submit a post or recomend posts that should be included in the next Four Stone Hearth, check out the Four Stone Hearths webpage.

Next in line to host the Four Stone Hearth blog carnival is Greg Laden at January 30th. Best wishesMagnus Reuterdahl


Scenic spot Skatelöv

My trip to Skatelöv paid off. I got some photos of the rune stone Sm 6, the “picture stones” and more.

Sm 6. The size and form of the rune stone is that of a tombstone, but the outlay of the inscriptions and decorations seems more a test inscription but the inscription says otherwise.

Sm 6 rune stone

Inscription: bosi : tlhi kirki þ bosi : ta=lhi sten til skatma kirkiu

In translation:

“Bósi cut the church. … Bósi cut the stone to the church of the Skatamen(?).”

Skatamen should probably an earlier form for Skatelöv, for example the men of Skate…

Picture stone Skatelöv old church 1

An animal carved in the style of those found on rune stones, but this is probably carved as an adornment on the church.

Picture stone 2   Picture stone 3

Two stones with figurative carvings, they are rather worn so it’s hard to interpret them. Both have probably been carved as some form of adornments. If tou look close enough on the stone to the left it is easy to make your self believe that there are carved runes on it, especially up in the left upper corner: After a while I was sure that I could see at least three runes: t, k, i/a. But I am pretty sure this is just an illusion or a wish to see runes.

 the medieval baptismal font of Skatelöv church

In the church is also the medieval baptismal font.

Picture from 1698 in Skatelöv church

On the wall of the church hangs a painting from 1698 with the name Pet. Rudbeck that is of interest, behind the mythological beast with the crossbow is a rune stone and a prehistoric grave field.

Rune stone  Grave field

Details of the rune stone and the prehistoric gravefield.

 The old church of Skatelöv

On another wall, in the tower there, is a painting that shows us how the medieval church looked. It was demolished in 1820.

The foundation of Skatelövs old church

The medieval church stood on a small cape with a beautiful view. In the cemetery one can still see the church foundation.

Tomb stone

On the cemetery the tombstone over Gunnar Olof Hyltén-Cavallius is raised, in the style of a rune stone in a small mound. According to inscription Gunnar Olof Hyltén Cavallius was born on March 18th 1818 and died in June 5th 1889, it also states that the stone was set by people from Småland.

Gunnar Olof Hyltén-Cavallius is perhaps best known as an ethnologist. His greatest legacy is that in Swedish archaeology and ethnology, he founded the first provincial museum in Sweden, Smålands Museum. He was also one of the founders of Svenska fornminnesföreningen (The Swedish association for ancient remains).

 Magnus Reuterdahl


Erect tombstones, grave fields and such.

When you travel an area for enough times you begin to discover things that stand out, in this case I do surveys regarding ancient monuments. In previous posts I’ve written about the special Iron Age dolmens, this time I thought that I would put a special form of erect stones on display.

Erected stones are markers for prehistoric graves, they are found on grave fields and standing all alone or in small groups. They can also stand on mounds, in Sweden it is generally so that erect stones represent male graves and round stone sphere represent female graves. This hypostasis is general and absolute and is referred to regarding mounds and in some cases filled stone settings from the Iron Age.

Inglinge mound

Inglinge mound

An example is Inglinge mound; this example is though a bit extreme. The great mound that had been called Inglinge mound has both an erected stone and an ornated stone sphere. Around this massive mound, these giants are often referred to as a kings or queens mound, a varied grave field is set. It is one of the biggest in Småland, containing ca 130 graves (Raa 1 in Östra Torsås parish). The great mound is dated to ca 500 AD and the oldest, a cairn, could be as old as from the Bronze Age. In the 1930’s three graves were excavated, these are dated to Viking Age (ca 800-1050 AD). In other words there is a very long continuity, which isn’t all that unusual when it comes to large grave fields. The mound and the grave field can be found in Ingelstad, Östra Torsås parish, Växjö municipality.

Erect stone and stone sphere

The erect stone and the ornated stone sphere on top of Inglinge mound.

Ship setting

An unfilled stone setting in form of a ship on the grave field Raa 1 in Östra Torsås parish.

The stones I referred to in the beginning of the post are a bit unusual, regarding the shape. A “normal” erect stone looks something like this and is perhaps between 0.5 m – 1 m high and 0.4-0.8 m wide.

The pictures are taken upon two places in the municipal of Alvesta. The first ones are standing just south of and just west of a small grave field in Blädinge parish (Raa 4). The stones just west of the grave field have probably once belonged to the grave field but have been separated due to the crossing road. The grave field and the erect stones are dated to the Iron Age. Within this beautiful grave field there are 28 monuments; 16 mounds, seven round filled stone settings, four erect stones and one stone circle.

Grave field

Stone circle with normal erect stones on Raa 4 in Blädinge parish.

One the other side of the road stands three erect stones (Raa 94:1-3), of which two has the form I seek. They can be described as pointing to the sky and has a base that is wider on one side, see photos. There have been at least four more stones in this area around 1900 AD.

Erect stone Erect stone 2

Raa 94:2 and 94:3 just west of the grave field.

Some hundred meters south of the grave field is another of these pointing stones (Raa 3 in Blädinge parish).

Erect stone 3

Raa 3 in Blädinge parish.

Some miles north of these monuments in Lekaryds parish is the grave field Raa 63 called Kungsbackarna (The King’s hills). A great cairn canters the grave field; there are also several stone settings. In the south end of the grave field just by the road stands an erect stone of the “pointing” type.

On this grave field ten stone settings were excavated in 1966 as they were building a new road, among the finds were weapon details from the Iron Age (ca 500 BC-1050 AD) though the big cairn might go back to the Bronze Age.

 Cairn on Lekaryd 63

The great cairn that centers the grave field Raa 63 in Lekaryd parish.

This is a usual way to date prehistoric grave fields, as the big cairns normally are dated to the Bronze Age when they aren’t on a grave field they are also dated as such on the grave fields, this might very well be true, but I don’t feel certain. There are a great need for excavations of grave fields in this part of the country to gain new knowledge that is based on scientific method and modern excavations.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Back at the office!

Monday morning and my vacation is over for this time. The first part of the project is done; I have visited all the sites and monuments that we worked on last year. In general the result is fine, on some sites new damages have come up due to the storm Per in 2007 and due to reforesting. Within this project I will also visit and try to describe how the immediate surroundings around rock carvings have been affected, how cultural and ancient monuments close to small roads in storm afflicted areas has been affected and I will also visit some areas with fossilized acres to describe how the reforesting has affected the relics within these areas.

Söraby 26:1

A monumental cairn in the north part the Borlanda grave field, in Söraby parish, raa 26. 

Finally we have some money for at least one grave field where we would like to make an effort at restoring it so it once again can be accessible for the public.

Söraby 26 2

The midsection of Borlanda grave field. In the background the cairn, by the trees one can catch a glimpse of two ship-formed stone settings.

Söraby 26 3

Photo from the midsection of the grave field towards south.

More to come…

Magnus Reuterdahl  


Ancient monuments and sights in Hamneda

Within and in the vicinity of Hamneda are many sites and monuments that are worth seeing. Most of these are grave fields but here are also rune stones, as I presented in an earlier post, the ruin of a medieval church and a royal farmstead (with the meaning that the farm belonged to the crown not that the King lived here).

 Hamneda 41

Raa 41 in Hamneda parish. Photo Magnus Reuterdahl.

The grave fields Raa 41 and 43, also known as Elinge grave field, are separated by a road. On the north side on a small hill is Raa 41, it contains 27 graves; 24 mounds and three round stone settings. On the south side on yet a higher hill and down its hillside is Raa 43; it contains 62 mounds, whereof eight has a small groove around them, in Swedish fotränna, the size of the groove is consistent with a pair of feet, and five round stone settings. The grave field are dated to the Iron Age most probably the late Iron Age. On Raa 41 two rune stones (Sm 32 and 33) found in Hamneda medieval church are erected.

Hamneda 43

Raa 43 in Hamneda parish. Photo Magnus Reuterdahl.

Raa 47 lies a bit north of Hamneda and is also divide by a road, this grave field is a bit larger than 41 and 43 and is placed upon a ridge. The grave field contains 177 monuments; 155 mounds, 12 round stone settings and three erect stones. The grave field is dated to the late Iron Age.

Hamneda 47

Raa 47 in Hamneda parish. Photo Magnus Reuterdahl.

The ruin of Hamneda medieval church from the 12th century, it was demolished in 1897 with the help of dynamite. Within the walls were two rune stones that nowadays are erected on Raa 41, the baptismal font from the old church was also moved but to the new church.

44_gammal.jpg

A picture of the old church in Hamneda, Raa 44, in the late 19th century.

Hamneda 44

The ruins of old church in Hamneda, Raa 44. Photo Magnus Reuterdahl.

The last place I thought I would show you is the ruins of the royal farmstead of Hamneda, raa 75. There are ruins after four houses and a cellar and a well. According to the map of 1702 this farm belonged to the crown, the oldest records regarding the farm is from 1394.

Hamneda 75

Raa 75 in Hamneda parish. Photo Magnus Reuterdahl.

// Magnus Reuterdahl


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