With my buddies Kjell Andersson and Lasse Winroth, and supported by the amazing Ehrsson brothers Rune & Tore, I’ve been back metal detecting around the Harbour of the Sheaf Kings for two days. Last summer I did some work along the current shores of the harbour site, covering available flat ground and finding nothing I could definitely date before the year 1800. Then I moved inland to the landlocked part of the one-time harbour basin, and immediately found a sword from the early 1500s.
We’re currently concentrating on bits of flat ground around the landlocked basin, hoping to find traces of a seasonal military camp where, according to archival sources, thousands of people would live for weeks during the 17th century. A likely piece of land is a long-fallow field which is being reclaimed by hardwood forest, and so I’ve been sawing and axing a lot of branches and small trees, while Tore has been cutting tall grass with his ancient little Belos tractor. It was so loud that I could hardly hear my detector when he trundled past.
Yesterday we found a coin of a type struck 1715-1718 for Carolus XII and other certain 18th century stuff, which was a great improvement over last summer when I got no farther back than Oscar I in the 1850s. Still, the finds didn’t fit well with the land installations of a 16th/17th century naval harbour, more likely representing the original breaking of the land for agriculture.
Today we did some more work in the old field and then moved on to another likely surface that is currently wooded, some ways around the harbour basin. We found loads and loads of 20th century rifle cartridges and little else. One entirely illegible copper coin is likely to date from about 1700, judging from its dimensions and the amount of verdigis on it.
Working in the woods felt pretty weird because of the outlandish sounds produced by a large colony of grey herons. Their young clamour for food, and the adults call to each other, producing a cacophony reminiscent of a rain forest. Under the trees they nest in, the ground is spattered with their pale droppings and their sky-blue eggshells, and the place reeks of fish. Big birds!
A few weeks from now, I’m going to have volunteers digging and sieving test pits all over the area, and the pits’ distribution will partly be determined by the results of our metal detecting. So far I don’t have any great leads. I wish I had a more detailed contour map, one metre equidistance instead of five, better to track the shrinking of the harbour basin through shore displacement.