Category Archives: Västergötland

Rock-art-lollapalooza part 2: the Fossum site

Next stop on my Rock art lollapalooza in the UNESCO world Herritage site Tanum is Fossum. The rock art in Tanum is dated to the Bronze Age, ca 1500-1000 BC.

Among the pictures are hunting scenes, people holding axes, people playing horns and of course lots of ships, animals, foot soles and cup marks etc.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!

 There’s still more to come 🙂

Magnus Reuterdahl

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Onwards toward new adventures

We’re all done here in Halland, for this time around. Tomorrow we set sail, or rather start up the Land Rover, for Västra Götland County and Lilla Edet. In Lilla Edet we’ll have one or two days work, again a survey for coming wind farm, though a small one.

Lets find out what awaits us…

Magnus Reuterdahl


A rune stone in need of TLC

When I was in Västergötland a few weeks ago I passed this rune stone (Vg 195, Tranemo 3:1). As it stands, without a information sign, it needs to be repainted. Aaccording to the National Heritage database of ancient monuments (FMIS) it was last done in 1979 – if so the paint has lasted well, but it’s beginning to be difficult to read the runes not only due to the lack of paint but also due to weathering. Repainting is not always the best solution as it in some cases it seems to have hasted the decline of the stone surface, and painted runes is not in itself necessary for the understanding of  the monument. In most cases I believe that an information sign, if good, is better. It can help to give a context for the monument – why was it made? Who made it? Who could read or write runes? What does the runes say?  How it can be interpreted etc.

Behind the rune stone is a small piece that seems to have been chipped off. According to the text in FMIS this has probably been done before the stone was made into a rune stone. I would rather guess that it’s been done during the process of making the rune stone as I don’t believe that the stone stood on that spot on beforehand but rather has been placed at that spot. If the chip was accidental or on purpose is on the other hand another question.

The inscription should be as follows, translated into English; “Assur placed this stone after (in memory of) Anunde, his brother”, the inscription is formed around a cross.

According to the Nordic rune text database the transcription is (was); asur * sati * stin * þani * anuta * bruþur * si

Part of the inscription is no longer readable due to damages, as fas as my transcription goes these runes a readable today;…asu…  …(a)ni* iftiR * anuta * bruþur * si.

In other words this rune stone is in need of some TLC.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Surveys on my mind

At the moment I am working on a couple of small surveys in Vastergotland County, in the southwest part of Sweden. This time of year is perfect, it’s not too hot and not too cold, which makes it easy to walk long distances, and the grass hasn’t really begun to grow yet and therefore do not cover the remains. During this time of year the forest is never quiet; birds are singing and animals moving about, tress twitching and whining.  Everywhere nature’s waking up from its long winter slumber.

Sometimes when you’re out you get the feeling that you might be the first person walking in this parts –to boldly go where no man has gone before – and then you’re reminded that nothing could be further from the truth. Almost all parts of our woods have been and are being used in some way or the other. Today it’s mainly forestry and hunting. In past times small crofts and cottages has been placed in what today is forests; in here they farmed small acres, held animals, made tar and coal, hunted etc. If we go further back in time we find traces of settlements, graves and grave fields, from iron production, small acres etc. What is forest now has been affected by man since the first time he or she sat foot on what became Sweden until today and the traces can be seen everywhere.

The remains of a hunting tower

From the forestry machines and tractors small roads or wheel tracks can be seen, clearings or  trees planted in straight lines, traces after soil preparation, hunting towers, ditches etc are clearly visible.

Wheel tracks from a forestry machine

Historic traces are tar ditches and pits, fossil acres most often identified by small cairns, foundations of crofts etc. Prehistoric remains include some of the above mentioned, graves, settlements of different kinds etc. Clearing cairns can be remains from agriculture but also from clearings for a settlement or an activity, the historic ones that we connect with crofts are often a bit bigger, 3-5 meters in diameter and 0,5-1,5 m high and often relatively close by the remains of a croft, a hut or a farmstead, while the prehistoric ones are more shallow and often quite difficult to see.

A croft type clearing cairn

Crofts and such can often be identified by studying historic maps and sometimes modern as well as place names often has lived on and therefore can reveal the locations. While prehistoric settlements are searched for in certain types of environment, height above the ocean, close to lakes, on slopes etc. When we find clearing cairns one looks for fire cracked stones etc. Other things that can be a giveaway are small surfaces cleared of stones, terraces on slopes, flat areas.

During these surveys the usual finds are from historic times and connected to crofts or different activities in the forests as mentioned before. When I come up on the ruins of a croft where you often can the foundation of one or a few buildings; the croft, a barn, an earth cellar etc I can’t help but to think on the people who once built their lives there. When we’re out on these jobs we regularly live at hostels and such and there really isn’t all that much to do during the evenings but to read, blog or watch DVD’s. This time around I’m watching the Waltons (season 3) and I can’t help but comparing the show to what we find. The Waltons is played out during the great depression in the US during the 30’s. Many of the remains we found are from the second half of the 19th or the beginning of the 20th century. The situation for the Waltons is probably not that apart from those who lived far out in the country side in Sweden, they lived on the land under hard and pressing times. Many of these remains are from crofts that where abandoned in search for a better life during what could be called a form a depression in Sweden and many other European countries at that time leading up to great waves of emigration to the USA and other countries. When you walk around the remains of croft and see the amount of work that has been done clearing the ground you relies what a big step leap of desperation it must have to pack your bags, abandon your home, your friends, part of your family and your life to seek fortune in the unknown. At that point it feels valuable to document the traces of their history – or rather our history as it is part of what shaped the history my land as well many other lands.

A well preserved earth cellar at croft abandoned ca 1890

Magnus Reuterdahl


Speed update

Been a little tired these last few days (arcaheological jet lag?); the small excavtion in Ostergotland, Klockrike, gave nothing. We did a number of search shafts, which were more or less empty. All we found were some pieces bricks, normally you can find porcelain, scrap iron, glass, etc. but here it was basically completely empty.

Then it was off to Lerum in Vastergotland where we have added to an earlier survey which led to three descriptions of three croft ruins and one remain from charcoal production.

Tomorrow morning it’s off to Stockholm to finish up a report.

Magnus Reuterdahl


New week, new locality

I have just arrived in Motala in Ostergotland for two days of work, a small archaeological investigation to delineate a settlement just outside of Motala.

Then follow a couple of days of survey work in Lerums municipality, in the same area I was a month ago; Rävbacka because they want to use another area for wind energy works.

A lot of travelling, it’s tuff but gives me the possibility to see much of the country and visit places and cultural and ancient remains I probably never would seen otherwise, juist one of the perks with this particular job. 

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


Skepplanda end game

skepplanda 32 end game2

The excavation is done, all is packed and we’ve left Skepplanda 32. I though I collect all the post here.

skepplanda 32 end game

Start here!

continue here!

There are also information available in Arkeologicentrum’s newsletter (in Swedish)

Best wishes 

Magnus Reuterdahl


Last in line

Tomorrow is the last day at Skepplanda 32 and most of the work will concern dismantling the excavation site, packing and finishing up.

Today we finished one of the larger hearths at Skepplanda 32, it was ca 4 m in diameter and ca 0,5 m deep.

Skepplanda 32 hearth

We didn’t find many artefacts in it but I found this nice cylindrical flint core, where the hearth met the sand.

 Flint core 2

Flint core

Flint core 3

Another nice find today was our second arrow head made of quartz.

 arrow head quartz

As I said tomorrow is the last day and then it’s up to Stockholm for a week worth of vacation.

Magnus Reuterdahl


We’re close to the finishing line

Skepplanda 32 hearth

The Skepplanda 32 excavation is beginning to come to an end – only two days left. We’ve made a lot of interesting finds during the excavation and these last few days we also found some hearts and cocking pits whereof some might be Neolithic. Several of them looks like they’re from the Iron Age but we’ve made some finds that indicatives that they possibly are from the Stone Age. Today I found this arrow head (type C) belonging to last phase of the pitted ware culture in a hearth.

Skepplanda 32 arrow head C type

Today I took a few moments to look at the view over Gota Alv (river Gota) it’s magnificent. The scenery is nothing like that the people of the middle neolitic saw as this was in the archipelago at the time and the sea level met the beach right were here. On that they made hearths, hunted seal, fished and possibly lived, at least for a while.

Skepplanda 32 view

Well all good things have an end and it’s been a good dig. Coming up next is a week of vacation and then it is of Ostergotland for more work.

Magnus Reuterdahl


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