Tag Archives: survey

Flash-back of the Gudrun days

2011 ended with a bang – a storm named Dagmar hit Sweden with force, together with the storm Cato.

An uprooted tree on an Iron Age settlement, Medelpad 2011

Between 2005-2007 I worked with the effects on ancient monuments and remains after two other storms; Gudrun (2005) & Per(2006). Gudrun herself was responsible for damages on at least 75 million cubic meters of forest. In Kronoberg county in the southern parts of Sweden more than 900 ancient remains or monuments were damaged in some part, in 180 cases the damages was thought to be serious enough to do efforts to do some kind of archaeological restoration.

Dagmar weren’t quite so vicious as Gudrun but managed to damage ca 4,5 million cubic meters of forest, most in Medelpad in Västernorrland county and in Hälsingland. Currently I work at the Administrative board of Västernorrland county so me and a couple of others went on a small excursion around the city Sundsvall to see how and if the storm had affected the ancient remains. We visited about 10 places, some we knew were damaged, some due to their location. Seven of these were affected in some way or another, mainly by uprooted trees and trees laying upon the remains. This was a flash-back of the Gudrun days.

An uprooted tree between two houses of cultural historic value, Medelpad 2011

Info sign among storm felled trees, on Iron Age Settlement, Medelpad 2011

Uprooted trees on an Iron Age grave field, Medelpad 2011

Four uprooted trees on arow on an Iron Age grave field, Medelpad 2011

How much damage has been inflicted is difficult to estimate at this stage, both concerning the specific places we visited and how many in the County that has been affected. Before such estimations can be done the storm felled trees must first be removed and a survey be done.

The snow makes it more diffcult to see the monuments, here an Iron Age mound that made it through the storm without damages.

Let’s hope the damages aren’t all that severe, as in this last case.

Where in Sweden are we - see the red ring

Magnus Reuterdahl

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Back in business

No more playing around, vacation time is over, time to bite the bullet – I’m going to work some miles north of Östersund for the coming week on a survey an I’ve been told there’s a mosquito invasion up there.

Well, Mosquitios I come prepared -I bought one of these – so do your best!

Magnus Reuterdahl


New week, new objective

Everyday’s an adventure, I thought I was to do some report writing this week but not so – new plan – new destination; Storuman. So I’ll strap on my boots cause it’s survey time again 😀

It’s yet to discover if or how good my internet connection will be – otherwise  I’ll update on Saturday.

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


Dolmens Froboke type

This week the field season started with a survey in Bredaryd parish in Halland. As I’ve been sitting in the office for a few months the body is not quite ready for action – every limb feels sore after a few days of hiking in the country side – still it’s great to be outdoors again.

On the way to the survey I passed the grave field Froboke and took a couple of pictures. This grave field is perhaps most known for a fascinating type of burial monuments called Iron Age dolmens, which originally was called Fröböke dolmens after this site. The grave field is located in Bredary parish, Halland, a few miles from Halmstad.

Photo at the south part of the grave filed towards north

Photo from the middle part of the gravfield towards the south part

I’ve written about Iron Age dolmens before, here and here. In short Iron Age dolmens can be found on grave fields in the south west part of Sweden; in the west part of Smaland, in Halland and in the south west part of Vastra Gotaland. They are generally dated to ca 500 B.C. – 400 A.D. and only a few have been excavated. This type of burial monuments was first described in 1876 while the road next to the grave filed was built.

The north part of the grave field

The grave field at Froboke is quite small and consists of seven visible grave monuments; three Iron Age dolmens and four erected stones. The grave field has probably been larger but have been diminished over time due to agriculture and road works in historic and modern times. Two archaeological excavations have been carried out at the grave field in 1914 and 1933 – among the finds is a glass bead, cremated bones and pieces of quartz. The “complete” Iron Age dolmen just next to the road was restored in the end of the 19th century, it’s possible that some kind of excavation was carried out then as well.

The reconstructed Iron Age dolmen

Not all that chatch my eye is of cultural historic interest, like this spider’s web.

Next week I’ll be in Växjo in Kronobergs County doing more archaeological work.

Magnus Reuterdahl


What’s happening here?

Another week is coming towards its end and once again I’ll prepare myself to go home to Stockholm. The next couple of weeks I’ll be working in Ostergotland just south of Valdermarsvik doing an archaeological investigation for a wind farm. I and a colleague will conduct a survey of the area where we will visit known ancient remains and cultural relics and search for dittos.

This week I’ve had Bobby Womack as company while doing prep work for the next couple of week’s survey and while finishing a couple reports.

Yet again I’ll manage to miss another Martin Rundqvist’s  Stockholm blogmeet (Sept 2nd), but that’s no reason for you to miss it; more info here!

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


FMIS is growing

Today I sent in a report to FMIS/Fornsok (The National Heritage Board´s database for archaeological sites and monuments) regarding ancient and other remains of historic value that we found during a survey in Vastra Gotlands county, Skallsjo parish, earlier this month with Arkeologicentrum.

In total we found 2 ancient remains and 20 remains of historic value. The remains are foundation remains of crofts and cottages and traces of their arable land in form of cairns from the fields, remains of coal mining, remains of a mill, old boundary markers etc. And now FMIS have been sent information concerning these, their position (GPS points and shapes), their size and what they are etc (a description).

Mayhap not the most exciting of remains but a few of them where very well preserved and have a high pedagogic value  in additon to the historic.

All in all 22 new entires to FMIS/Fornsok

Magnus Reuterdahl


Thoughts when on an archaeological survey

At the moment I’m working on an archaeological investigation (AI) just outside Lerum, ca 5 miles east of Gothenburg. With an AI means to investigate if there are any ancient monuments or cultural remains in an area that someone wants to exploit. The work aims towards the exploiter so that he/she might decide if the enterprise at hand is doable and for the county administrative board as basis for a decision if an enterprise is to be allowed or not and if any restrictions are to be set.

The first step is to study historic maps; the ancient monument records (FMIS), the archaeological topographic archive (ATA), and previous research and reports etc. Thereafter an archaeological or perhaps more correclty a culture historical survey in the area is done; where one visit known remains as well as areas without known remains and describes these areas and how the enterprise might affect them.

As one walks around the area in search for ancient and cultural remains you’re bound to find traces of human activity such as traces of forestry. Tracks from heavy machinery and soil preparation are visible for a long time. Other things are hunting towers and other traces such as salt rocks for elk etc.

 salt rock

At this small tree a salt rock was placed.

Other remains are more unexpected such as these from a triangular point at the peak Linneas huvud (Linnea’s head).

 triang_1

triang_2

triang_3

Not yet an ancient remain but still remains after human activity.

Last week I worked in Ostertalje just east of Sodertalje some miles south of Stockholm on a mission much like this and I found this garbage. It is the remains, pushed down a slope, of a small farm or croft; pieces of glass, shards of porcelain, bits and pieces of iron and hardware – today garbage – tomorrow it might very well be part of an archaeological excavation and those valuable finds in an interpretation.

 trash

Back to Lerum. The remains of the triangular point might not be considered garbage as it seems to have some meaning, a practical purpose of sorts. But one finds a lot of other things such as burnt out car wrecks; here a Volvo, a Ford and an Audi.

 cars

Mayhap not be a pretty sight though other garbage can be useful, at the ruins of a small farm I found this piece of a newspaper between the stones.

 newspaper

It is dated to July 9th 1946 and tells me that at that time the house probably was still in use.

I like to do surveys of this sort, to walk through different landscapes and see “new” things, traces of the past and present. Much isn’t all that old as this corduroy(kavelbro) but still it’s gives you a bit of a buzz when you find it.

 kavelbro

But at times it’s frustrating as the forests are too thick which makes it difficult and unpleasant to go through…

forest2

forest1

…but in the end when you find a beautiful place or remains of some sort, like this water mill that’s easily forgotten.

kvarn 

I have some great pictures of the rune stones at Fresta church that I’ll share in a few days but now it’s high time to get some food.

Best wishes 

Magnus Reuterdahl


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