Long-time Dear Readers may remember the visit I paid last May to the wooded Skogsö hills where the Battle of Baggensstäket was fought in 1719. Bo Knarrström, Tomas Englund and the others on their project team are now back on the site with their metal detectors, finding more and more objects from the battle. This time, I’m joining the team for two days. Tuesday, they were visited by celebrated military historian Peter Englund.
A battle fought with firearms seeds an area thickly with evidence for what has taken place in those few hours, and in many cases this evidence remains untouched for centuries. Few other things people do can make such an archaeological impression in such a short time. At Baggensstäket, the main find categories are musket balls, cast-iron hand grenade shards, nails from impromptu fortifications, buttons, remains of ruptured guns, and a few coins. Their distribution across the site allow insight into where the fighting was heaviest, where the musketeers were and where their targets, etc.
Different armies use different equipment, and in this case this shows even in the musket balls. It seems that the Swedish forces used large spherical balls, while the Russian invaders shot balls with a little conical tail, probably remaining from the casting process. This difference is of course very handy when you want to know which side was shooting at a certain position in the terrain. And at a hilly site like this, you know exactly from what side of a hill the fire was coming. All this allows Bo & Tomas to say things like “The Russians advanced up this slope toward the timber fortifications on that hill, lobbing grenades at it and taking heavy Swedish fire”.
I found quite a bit of stuff for the project today, though the bits most likely to be battle-related were a couple of large carpentry spikes. Other team members found musket balls and a battle-period coin. I was using an unfamiliar White detector, probably the model my buddy Tim finds so much stuff with, and I did manage to find five coins — dating however from 1898-1920, much later than the battle.
Tomorrow I’m bringing my own C-scope machine to see if I do better or worse with it.