We started work at Stensö castle on Monday morning, clearing the walking path of a few storm-felled trees and laying out three trenches. We’re the first archaeologists to break turf here, true to my modus operandi. I don’t have contract archaeology’s resources, but I have the freedom to go where I will for fieldwork (except so far the peripheral innards of the Sättuna barrow, the only time I’ve had a permit application turned down, which still irks me), so I select sites that will never be touched by highway projects and which are not already well explored and understood.
Trench A is on the flank of the mound that marks the castle’s assumed northern tower. No masonry shows through the turfed-over rubble here. The trench aims to answer the question whether the northern tower was planned and built along with the perimeter wall when it was added to the site. If so, we can expect to find stones projecting out of the tower wall’s face to anchor the perimeter wall – which has been demolished along this stretch and is not currently visible.
Trench B is between the two towers and aims to answer the question where the perimeter wall was on this stretch.
Trench C is in the south-east part of the bailey against the perimeter wall and aims to answer the questions what sort of buildings stood there and what they were used for.
So far we’re just moving rubble. It contains a few humongous gneiss ashlar (Sw. gråstenskvader) which we cannot lift and don’t want to get crushed by. I’m thinking we can probably drag the ashlar out of trench C with a pulley anchored to a tree. Getting a mechanical excavator to this hilltop site in the woods would cost too much. This is only a problem in trench C where the goal is to get beneath the rubble and into a Medieval culture layer.
We’ve already made an interesting find. Trenches B and C have yielded a small amount of deformed vitrified brick that attests to a fire on site. These secondarily burnt bricks may come from the top part of the perimeter wall. Perhaps there was a wooden walkway along the inside of the wall, it got torched and some of the brickwork got messed up. There is no written evidence for any attack on the castle, but rebellion leader Engelbrekt’s forces took nearby Rönö castle in the 1430s and Stensö was not far out of their way.
Signing off, Tuesday lunch. Two students are making pancakes!