Category Archives: survey

Walk this way

Nowadays most of my job is being done from behind a desk while using a computer, but now and then I get to go out on a hike in the cultural landscape whislt working.

Today I was out inspecting a find of a  so called  fossil road (hålväg in Swedish term). This road ha sprobably not been used for quite some time, probably several hundered years.

hålväg1 fossil road (600x450)

How old it is, I can not say offhand, but through long usage it has cut through the soil. This part of the road is about 150 meters and is part of a system of parts of different roads, it is about 40-70 cm wide at the bottom and 2-3 meters at the top and has a depth of about 0.8-1 meter. It has been used more than a few times.

hålväg2 fossil road (450x600)

It makes you or at least med wonder who used it, when and why. Is this a road between two villages, settelments, or between different activity areas or is it a more general way?

Quite a luxery being able to dwell on thongs like this whilst at work 🙂

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Another day in the wild

The work continues outside of Halmstad, Halland County, in the southwest of Sweden. The area is perhaps not the most exiting if one wants to find ancient monuments, instead we’ve found several croft ruins and ruins of poor houses and of course the small fields surrounding them.

Today was a beautiful day, sunny, a light breeze and about 15-20 degrees Celsius. As I was walking over a small ridge scared the wits out of this elk (moose), as he ran away I managed to get a photo, though poorly.

They’re mighty animals, and I think I got as shocked as he or she, and fanatic to see in their own habitant, in the wild – though I kind of like to see them on plate as well.

Now it’s resting and mending for a new go tomorrow, I got a tender knee from slipping on wet root and having the fortune of landing on my knee just where a stone happened to be – it’s a bit swollen but should be fine after a few hours rest.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Heritage board’s course on Historic Landscapes day 1

Oxhagen in Rimbo

First day of the National Heritage board’s course on Historic Landscapes (Landskapshistorisk utbildning) we visited Oxhagen (the Ox pasture) in Rimbo, some miles north of Stockholm. I’ve been there a few years ago but had more or less forgotten about it, it situated in a rural landscape and we got some friends tagging a long for the ride.

Within the pastures are the remains of an late Bronze Age/early Iron Age landscape with clearing cairns, small fossilized fields, cairns of fire cracked stones, a grave field with stone settings and so forth – these remains is in part “disturbed” by newer features, such as younger fossilized fields and clearing cairns, military buildings etc.

An interesting area with gave cause to lots and lots of discussions – where why and how are important words. What makes you determine if something is a prehistoric remain or not– if in doubt use the rule of three:

Location – where is it situated, form – does it have the right shape and material – is it built by the right material.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Tomorrow’s historic remains

When we’re out on archaeological surveys for ancient monuments and historic remains we sometimes encounters remnants that do not quite meet the criteria, the criteria being permanently abandoned. Such remnants can be abandoned farms and houses still standing and in some cases provided for, at least enough to not fall apart. Sometimes it lies on the border, the two houses, shown below, does not have many years left before they can be registered as historic remains in form of house foundations. Even if they are on the ropes, they still hold a kind of desolate beauty, they are still vital enough to tell tales of their late owners, in and around them are evidence of how their lives.

House number one, from a distance it seems quite ok, but when you get closer you see that it has began to fall apart.

The entrance is more or less overtaken by plants.

You can see the inner construction of the roof through an opening in the wall.

Inside, the ceiling is about to collapse…

…in a corner a bed with the madras is left…

…and on the wall, a picture of a young woman has been left…

…on a nail a couple of old pants have been hung, to dry?

The second house just 20 meters away is closer to a collapse, the roof has fallen in and the walls are well on their way to give up.

These abandoned buildings will be tomorrow’s historic remains in soon future. They are situated just outside of our working area so who knows we might come back in a year or two and find that they have fallen down and register them.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Dressed for success

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.


Of course you’ll take the precautions you can, a mosquito jacket helps some as well as different kind of repellents such as oils, deodorants etc.

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.

Magnus Reuterdahl


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