Category Archives: Västra Götaland

Rock-art-lollapalooza part 1

 My fiancée, who also is an archaeologist, is currently participating in an archaeological dig at the Swedish west coast, at Tanum. Tanum is internationally known for its rock art sites, the Tanum UNESCO World Heritage site includes a multitude of rock carvings dated to the Bronze Age ca 1700-500 BC. In the area there are more than 1500 known sites with rock art. Last weekend I visited and we went on a rock art Safari visiting a few of the sites, the first Vitlycke, which is one of the biggest sites including the famous carving that is called the the wedding couple .

The most common motives are cup marks, ships, people, animals, footprints, wheels etc. Not being an expert on these they still captures my imagination, this is as close as we come to a written testimony of the Bronze Age world giving us glimpses into the world then. The rock carving as seen today is made on outcrops and rocks that are visible in the modern farming landscape, but during the Bronze Age they were situated near the waterline. What is ongoing in Scandinavia, since the last Ice Age, is the land uplift in progress, due to this the coastline has moved quite a bit since the Bronze Age and so landscape surrounding the rock carvings has changed as well.

Big outcrop with rock art at Vitlycke

On top of this hill, ca 100 meter higher in the terrain are two great burial cairns from the Bronze Age.

This is the first of several posts consisting mainly of photos from these sites.

The wedding couple

As you see the carvings have been filled with paint, when they’re found they’re not – can you see the carvings on the next picture?

In the middle is a foot sole and down to the left is part of a ship.

At Vitlycke is also a rock art museum, which includes a replica of a Bronze Age farm.

Magnus Reuterdahl


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


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


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


Yet another Monday at Skepplanda

Monday mornings are often grey, so was this one. It started witha grey sky and heavy clouds that kept pouring rain on us but as the day progressed so did the weather. During the worst part of the rain we took a quick pause and went to Lodose museum to see their exhibit on the coastline curves on the west coast of Sweden, ie a display on how the water table have changed since the last Ice Age and onwards. A very interesting and clear exhibition, unfortunately we were only had a few minutes to scatter through prehistoric and medieval exhibition it seemed very nice and I’ll return later this summer to the museum for a more detailed visit.

Today we found out first shard of pitted ware, earlier during the excavation we’ve found several small ceramic shards but no ornated ones until now.

keramik skärva skepplanda

I also found my first arrow head, or at least a part of an arrow head today… though only the tongue.

arrow head skepplanda 32

Well, the beginning of the day was rainy and gray but at the end the sun was up and we’ve made a visit to Lodose museum, found some nice finds – all in all it turned out really good.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Magnus in action

It’s not often I publish pictures of myself here at Testimony of the spade but I got these pictures of me in the field taken by fellow archaeologist Joel Berglund and I thought it might be a good idea to give evidence that I actually do some work as well as blogging. Here I am behind Totte (Swedish nickname for Total station) at the Skepplanda excavation.

Magnus Reuterdahl Skepplanda

Photo © Joel Berglund 2009
Magnus Reuterdahl Skepplanda
Photo © Joel Berglund 2009

Not about archaeology but perhaps not far away of becoming an artifact.

Have a nice weekend!

Magnus Reuterdahl


Skepplanda day 9

 Today dark clouds covered the sky and the rain have been falling more or less the whole day, most of the time in form of a drizzle. Now this does not stop an archaeologist in the field all that happens is that you get dirty.

Among other things I found this nice double edged flint scrape.

double edged flint scrape

I also found my peaked cap that I lost a few days ago, I’ve been morning it a little as it’s been my companion the last few years in the field and has a really good fit. But on my way to the local supermarket what did I find if not my cap – some nice soul had hanged it on a pole – Thank you whoever you are!

 my cap

It’s been ruffed up a bit but nothing the washer won’t be able to fix.

Magnus Reuterdahl


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