Category Archives: Uppland

We’ve made the news

Today we were part of the headlines in Norrtelje Tidning (article in Swedish). It’s me holding the Rover.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Final week at Mellingeholm

This week will be a GIS kind of week for me, a lot o f measuring with the rover and the total station and processing the data and in between helping out in the search pits. As winter’s approaching the days are getting shorter, the weather in itself posses small or no problem but the light does, as the time with sufficient working light becomes shorter. It also means that we start early, I getting up at 05.30 which is not my preferred time to get up; I just seem to want to curl up under bed sheets and sleep for just a little longer.

Well off we go

Magnus Reuterdahl

Mellingeholm part 2

A new week in the field awaits. Last week we managed to do a lot of work but there’s still plenty to do. We’ve dug a lot of search pits, ca 5-10 m in length 1,5-2 m in width and 0,4-0,5 m in depth, to delimit two grave fields. Between these grave fields earlier archaeological investigations has identified urn graves, urns filled with cremated bones, charcoal etc and dug into the ground. We’ve rediscovered these and found a few more. One thought was that these two grave fields might have been one but there seems to be an area ca 50-75 m in between with no graves, though this is just a preliminary assessment as we still have some search pits to dig before we are done.

Mellingeholm test pit

In another parts of the area we’ve done search pits in order to find a possible settlement, in the first we’ve found nothing but in the other a few interesting finds have been done. More on that as it develops.

For me this week will be one in company with a Rover (network RTK) from Trimble (R8) as there are a lot of test pits to be measured.

Mellingeholm RTK

As you can see on my boots they tend to become rather heavy as the mud sticks to them as glue.

Mellingeholm Mud

Now, all I hope for is decent weather but it doesn’t look all that promising. So its another week in rain gear and long underwear.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Summer vacation 2009 part 3

Still keeping it in Stockholm County we visited Frotuna (Frötuna) church. It’s a beautiful church that reveals several rebuilding phases seated by the shoreline of Kyrksjön (The Church lake).

Frötuna kyrka 1

The oldest parts are assumed to be from the 12th century, the choir was prolonged during the 13th century and the roof vaults are from the 15th century. The waiting room is of special interest as a chapel in it might be connected to Sten Sure senior.

Frötuna kyrka 2

Frötuna kyrka 3

Frötuna kyrka 4

Frötuna kyrka 5

The bell tower is the latest addition and is placed on a small hill a few hundred m from the church.

Frötuna kyrkas klocktorn

When we visited work with taring the roof was ongoing.

Frötuna kyrka tjära

The place name Frötuna is interesting as it predates Christianty in Scandinavia. Fro (Frö) is another name for the god Frej one of the gods in Scandinavian mythology, -tuna means farmyard so it means the farm of Frej or Frej’s farm.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Summer vacation 2009 part 2

I’ll continue with one church and two rune stones;

Lohärads kyrka

At Loharads (Lohärads) church is U567. The oldest parts of the church are from the 13th century, it has been added to several times until it got its present looks during the 19th century. Within the church paintings from the late medieval times have been found and restored, sadly the church was looked so I have no pictures of these.

 U 567

The inscription on U 567 is, translated to English; Anund and Sven (?) and Ærnjjorn and Hægvid(?). Neither the runes nor the ornaments aren’t all that skilfully made, the inscription only holding names indicates that there might have been another stone.

 Lohärad kyrkas klockstapel

The bell tower is a bit odd and placed ca 150 m SW of the church next to a crossing of roads.

The next rune stone is U 573 at Kragsta.

U 573

Today it is very difficult to read as it is worn and it needs a new paint job. The inscription is interesting as it is a variant of a Germanic name giving principle where a part of the fathers name is a part of the sons name, it reads (translated to English); Alvgaut and Vigdjarf had this stone raised in memory of their father Vigi.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Excavation report II

The excavation is finished, in the west half of the presumed construction we didn’t find any artefacts or reminiscence of constructions. We found a crevice where the earth was darker which gave us some hope of finding some residues of a grave, but the earth was not fatty and we found no pieces of coal, cremated bones or ash.


The east haft the construction, the flat rock is visible.

The construction can best be described as a stone setting of the type called Äckel, which can be described as stone settings situated upon flat rocks. They are often constructed by stones of different size and seems a bit unorganized, in other words the construction plan isn’t all that obvious.  It is not unusual that the finds made are found in crevices, and one interpretation is that these where used as the primary grave and then covered with rocks. It is not that unusual that there is no finds at all due to the construction form and the elements of nature.


The concentration of visible stones.

The construction, if it was one, has been disturbed and damaged in the past. Under the stones we found plenty of proof that the stones have been moved in modern times, for example: plastic mugs, pieces of glass etc.


Some of the finds we made, pices of a glas bottle, a crowbar etc.

The lack of archaeological evidence does not substantiate that this is a grave neither does it the opposite; we just don’t have the archaeological evidence of it being one. It is not unusual that graves of this  type is more or less empty due to its construction, the elements of nature often ashes away the traces. There are pointers that speak prehistoric grave, its placement and its appearance, though it is difficult to say due to modern disruptions.


All done, in upper part is the crevice.

The result of the excavation is inconclusive as we neither can give a definite answer to the question if it is a grave or not, neither did we unearth any finds that helps us to date the construction, though if it is a grave it most probably is from the Bronze Age or the early part of the Iron Age if it is a grave.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Excavation report

As reported in previous posts I am excavating a stone setting in Enhörna parish, just outside of SödertäljeThe first day of the dig has been good if one sees to the amount of work we’ve finished, more than half the work done. The weather Gods has not really been on our side but it could have been a lot worse, it’s been a bit cold and we’ve gotten a share of rain and snow. As we dig close by a junior level school we’ve had visitors coming and going all day long, with a lot a questions and thoughts. We’ll dig tomorrow as well and finish it all up.

As it seems right now we have nothing that proves that this is a grave, we’ve found no coal or ashes, no cremated bones, no ceramics and we’ve seen no structures. What we have found is rather large stones with sharp edges, ca 0,4-0,7 meter and very few other objects. And the objects we’ve found is quite recent, a crowbar, some shards of glass from a bottle etc.

There are no pictures today, but I’ll upload some tomorrow or on Sunday.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Amongst Runes, ships and foot soles in Uppland

This weekend I visited a friend who has a summerhouse just south of Enköping in Uppland. In the area surrounding his “estate” are many interesting ancient monuments and remains, among them some fantastic rock art. In this case rock carvings from the Bronze Age (c. 1800-550 BC). We also stopped at a couple of rune stones; two that are used as stones in a church wall and one is a rune stone without runes.In Upland there are over 800 known rock carving sites, most of them can be found in the vicinity of Enköping. Many pictures are painted which makes them easy to spot.

Rock art

A ship at the site Brandskogsskeppet.

Rock art human

A human at the site Brandskogsskeppet.

First stop was at Brandskogsskeppet (The Brandskogs Ship), which is one of Upplands, most famous rock carvings. The carvings were discovered in 1925. The carvings are made upon flat rock; there are the big ship (c. 4 meter), several smaller ships, foot soles and cup marks.  The foot soles have been interpreted in different ways, a popular theory is that they represent a God, that can’t be showed in another way. Some of these foot soles are filed and some are just contours, some have put forward that this could one represents females and the other males. Just above the carvings were a cairn or large stone setting that was excavated in 1926.

Rock art Branskogsskeppet

The ship Branskogsskeppet.

On the big ship the prows are shaped like elk heads, the human that can be interpreted as carrying the ship has been discussed in several articles. Is he/she carrying the ship, swimming or doing something else? I believe that it could be argued that the image symbolize a part of a story that is lost to us, but at the time probably was well recognized, a part of a collective memory. There are another six humans connected to the carving, the men/women who are paddling the ship.

Rock art Brandskogsskeppet detail

The man “holding up” or swimming by the ship. 


Rock art Brandskogsskeppet detail 2

The six persons paddling the ship.

The second stop was at Rickeby, which is known for a “chair”. The Chair is a deep carving that has been interpreted as a chair, throne or a stool. The “chair” has later been interpreted as a man’s cloak. On the flat rock there are more than 180 figures; the chair, foot soles, 35 ships, five humans, rings, spirals and cup marks among others.

Rock art - ”the chair”

“The chair” or the “the cloak” at Rickeby.

Rock art - foot soles

Foot soles, cup-marks and other figures.

Rock art dog

A dog/wolf or fox at Rickeby

The third stop was Hemsta. On the flat rock on can find 210 ships, 20 humans, 67 animals and over 100 cup marks and yet a big number of diverse geometric symbols. I was here a few years ago when it was newly painted, then this site was impressive. Today, though, it is in dire need of refilling (with paint) the figures, the colors are bleak and many figures are difficult to identify.

Rock art Hemsta

Ships at Hemsta.

Rock art foot sole with toes

A filled foot sole with toes.

On our way home we stopped at Kungs-Husby church from the 13th century, but as you can see, there has happened a lot since then. On the south side of the church two rune stones are walled in.

The Church Kungs-Husby

Kungs-Husby Church

Rune stone U 707

U 707

“… * ysurkR –… * stan * þina * at * ka-…(n) * faþur * sen * koþan * (h)… * hier * man * stanta * stan * ——–i ** bali * risti * r(u)–r * þis– *”

Translated to English: Ósyrgr … this stone in memory of … his good father … Here will the stone stand … Balli carved these runes.

The stone was re discovered in 1965 of which one can read more in Fornvännen 1966:29.

Rune stone U 708

U 708

* kali * l-t (r)…–a * stn * (a)t * sigraif * brþur * — …un * sairR *”

Translated to English: Kali had the stone raised in memory of Sigreifr, his brother, <sairR>’s son(?).

The last rune stone (U FV1955;219) we visited hasn’t gotten any runes carved but the ornamental art is of the type that is normally found on rune stones. This stone was found in 1953 when the road where it today stand were to be widened. The figures are two animals.

Rune stone U FV1955;219

U FV1955;219 (FV=Fornvännen)

The evening ended with a few glasses of red wine to many but all in good company, many thanks to Anders Olsson, who guided us to the rock art and shared wine and houseroom during the night.

Anders Olson at Brandskogskeppet

Anders Olson at Brandskogsskeppet 2007-07-10.

This is my contribution to the 19th edition of the Four Stone Hearth blog carnival that is hosted by Sherdnerd, be sure to check out the other contributions there.

 Magnus Reuterdahl

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