Tag Archives: the County Administrative Board

Archaeology in Stockholm County part 2

I’ll continue with the notes from next three (3-6) seminars held at “Archeology in Stockholm County 2009” at the County Administrative Board of Stockholm 2010. Link to part one.

At Jarlabankes home – Are the individuals buried at Brobybro grave field, in Täby parish, related?

Lars Andersson, Stockholm County Museum

The Brobybro grave field is dated to ca 1000 to 1100 A.D. The excavations are a part of the project Runriket (The land of runes) and the findings will be exhibited at the Stockholm County Museum in a new exhibit that opens on February 24th 2010.

Jarlabanke was one of the most powerful men in Uppland somewhere around 1000 AD who owned great land estates in Täby and Vallentuna. Jarlabanke and his family are known to us through the inscriptions on several rune stones.

The grave field consists of ca 20 burials, 12 of which are investigated. A burial mound, Oesten’s mound, has been removed due to cultivation during the 19th century and on the graves. On the grave field are three rune stones, there has originally been four. These are rare as the inscriptions are tied to the burial ground, and those who are buried there, including Estrid and Oesten. Oesten was Jarlabanke grandfather and died in Greece, therefore it’s believed that the mound was empty and erected to the memory of Oesten. The skeletons have been osteological analyzed and only one is female, possibly Estrid who is mentioned on one of the rune stones. From the skeleton a facial reconstruction has been made and will be on display at Stockholm County museum. Of the other skeletons eight has been deemed male, two are from children. One of the children were very young, possibly newborn, was buried in the outskirts of the grave field. In eight of the graves are indications of coffins, two were nailed together, and six had a trough-like design. Most appear to have lids and the lids seem to have been, at least in some cases, charred. Among the finds a number of coins stand out, among other things, a Olof Skötkonung (king of Sweden 995-1022) coin otherwise very few artifacts had been left with the dead.

Besides osteological analysis the skeletons has also gone through DNA analysis to see if the buried are related to each other, the analysis was not jet finished at this time. The reason for DNA-analysis were debated during the seminar as whether or not they turn out to be blood relatives or not might not matter all that much, as during the late Viking Age and early Middle Ages as adopted family members were as high in rang as blood relatives when it comes to the right of inheritance. Regardless of all this the analysis gives knowledge – either new or results that reinforce old knowledge. The results also accumulate to the database of DNA analyzed prehistoric skeletons.

Another thing that was debated was the absence of women, or the presence of just one woman. During the debate it was put forth that this is to be expected at grave fields from this time of this sort (small grave fields connected to an estate, a farm or a family) as the buried are those who stand in line to or have inherited the estate, which most often are sons. In this case Estrid is mentioned on the rune stones which might be due to the fact that she inherited the state as a widow or a lonely child.


– Interesting finds from a very interesting place. This gives me a good reason to visit Stockholm County Museum later this spring.

Prehistoric ceramic usage in the eastern part of middle Sweden – a result of university- and assignment (exploration) archaeology

Sven Isaksson, the Archaeological Research Laboratory (AFL), Stockholm University

Sven Isaksson has made a compilation of lipid analysis made at the AFL from 300 prehistoric vessels, where one fragment equals one vessel. The method used is mass spectrometry. With this you can see whether the lipids derived from marine/aquatic fats, respectively, land animals or vegetables. There are a overlap between lean fish and terrestrial animals to consider. One can, at best, also identify differences between ruminant and monogastric animals, and if the fat comes from meat or milk proteins. There is also possible to separate vegetable fat that is derived from oils and nuts.

Some ceramic shards are “empty ” ie. there are no lipids to be extracted, this may be due to preservation conditions, soil composition and the nature of the ceramics; ie. porous or solid ceramic and of course it might depend of how the vessel been used.

A kind of culinary context must be taken into account. What was the main function of the vessels; cooking, storing food or drink, a sacrificial piece etc. – The interpretation must include more than the vessel itself such as the context of usage; Who cooked the food? What cooking technique was used? For what reason did they cook food? Where they used for storage and for how long etc. There are, for example, several containers from the Bronze Age that are showing traces of tar. Most often pieces from the mouth of the vessel is used for analysis and this might be traces of a sealing, it might also be a residue from a technique to seal the walls of the vessel.

The analysis shows that there are differences over time in terms of cuisine. The early Neolithic, Funnel beakers (TRB), represents a different type of cuisine than the cuisine of the Pitted ware culture (GRK) in the later period of the Neolithic’s. The GRK cuisine continues into the Bronze Age, though developing towards a more one-sided use. During the Iron Age it once again goes towards a more diverse couisine and usage of the pottery.


– An interesting compilation that is worth a closer look.

Karsvik in Bromma – a plateau house environment, Norra Ängby

Anna Arnberg, Johan Runar & Bengt Windelhed, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University

The field course in Archaeology (General course) held by the department of archaeology at Stockholm University 2009 were carried out in collaboration with several institutions and companies such as Stockholm City Museum, Bromma local history association and Arkeologikonsult (private company).

The field course and the project concern a farmstead environment with its roots in the Bronze Age which can be followed forth through the Iron Age, the Middle Ages and newer Ages. The students in cooperation with the mentioned institutions have done surveys, studies of historic maps, and excavations. The excavation concerns the foundations of a Viking Age farmstead, Bromma 226:1, at a terrace and a stone setting (a burial monument), Bromma 30:1. The survey has identified four different elements from different periods;

  • A stone fence, Bromma 30:1, dating to the early Iron Age (500 B.C.–550 A.D.), a minor excavation of a smaller part for the purpose of dating the fence.
  • A stone setting (a burial monument), Bromma 66:1, made out of large stones and boulders, probably from the early Iron Age or Bronze Age. A find within the stone setting shows that it’s been reused during the late Iron Age.
  • A foundation of a Viking Age house on a plateau, Bromma 226:1.
  • A stone setting (a burial monument) and a five stone boundary cairn, Bromma 226:2-3. The boundary cairn is placed on an older burial monument, possibly. It’s a difficult context to interpret, the five stone cairn, in reality not a cairn but five stone placed in a cross formation where a heart stone marks the spot and the wing stones the direction of the border, these are often placed where a boarder makes a turn. According to historic maps there should be a five stone cairn about here, a there is a bit of difference in opinions if this is that cairn or not. Finds of cremated bones, fragments of a comb and a arrowhead is evidence of the grave, though if I understood it right, the outside of the stone setting was disturbed by later day activities and the possible five stone cairn.

After the Viking Age the settlement moved away from the plateau down slopes where several remains can be seen in the ground.


–          The scientific value of this place is the long time continuity of usage that have left traces in the landscape, possibly from the Bronze Age and forth

  • These notes should not be used as references, if you’re interested I’m sure the people behind the seminars are happy to help you.
  • These are memory notes so there might very well a few faults or misunderstandings among them, if you find anything that is wrong or out of place please contact me so that I can fix it.

the Culture investigation part 2


I am disappointed with the Culture investigation due to several factors, but most regarding the fact that it focuses on organizational aspects rather than on visions or practical aspects. Much of the result can be summed up by the suggestion that 24 authorities are to become three. Statements regarding this investigation are due in just 3 months, not much time to digest 900 pages and provide good comments. The plan is to kick this off in 2010.

Why the rush? Was super organisations really what we needed and/or wanted?

When confronted by the finance situation in the Cultural Heritage sector one can’t help but ask how the sector is to survive; as it slowly but surely has been dismantled for many years and according to plan this will continue.

In 2009 the Cultural sections of the County Administrative Board applied for ca 369 million sek (ca 36 million €) in appropriations. In the end 210 millions was granted i.e. a gap of 159 million or 43% less than was applied for. Now it’s not quite as bad as it looks. The applied money can be divided into two parts; money for basic activity and money for various project applications (which most often is sought from external partners such as museums via the Cultural sections of the County Administrative Boards). I would guess the latter part is ca 20% of the applied amount i.e. ca 74 million sek. A large proportion of these projects will never be realized neither will parts of the planned activities.

I feel that is a problem that there is such a big discrepancy between funds applied and approved as this shows that there is a great need for funding. Furthermore I believe it would be better for all parts if the museums and different organisiation where to apply directly to the National Heritage Board instead of making the extra step via the County Administrative Board.

In the beginning of this post I mentioned the dismantling of the cultural heritage sector (and for that matter many other government sectors), which have been lasting for several years. It is one thing if this was a clearly stated objective, against which the sector could respond to. As it is now the government do not to provide full compensation for price and wage developments, the 2008 ratio was approximately 0.8: 3. i.e. raising the allocation with 0.8% while prices and wages rose by about 3 percent is cut back with more 2,2 %. This combined with “market” rent for the premises occupied, which in many cases are rooms that may only be used for a single purpose, such as museums. The state gives with one hand takes it back with the other. The effect is that they slowly but surely dismantle the sector without adding special saving requirements, read more about it here (article in Swedish).

Unfortunately it feels like it doesn’t matter wheatear we have a right or left government, when none of them seems to have an ideological or visionary interest in these issues. The system was introduced by the Social democrats and is being retained by the non socialist government of today, i.e. the dismantling has been in effect for more than 15 years. And during this 15 years Sweden has been doing good financially. I don’t know if the effect has been 2 %/ year but either way it is a lot of money and services lost.  Now it must be said that it is in principle applicable to cultural policy as a whole and not only those related to cultural heritage.

As I see it most of the ideas that is brought forth in this investigation is yesterdays news, it feels old and dusty and do not set a vision for either today or tomorrow. Why place the Cultural heritage sector together with art and exhibits when most work we do is in a higher degree connected with issues regarding planning, development, environmental protection, landscape etc.

I hope that this proposal does not go through as it stands today.

Now I’ve sulked long enough on this, it is time for something more uplifting and less domestic; next post is on Osteology, and that’s a promise!


Magnus Reuterdahl

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