With two days of digging and one day of backfilling left at Stensö Castle, trenches A and B have already given a rich harvest of new information.
The northern tower was a green ruin mound when we came to site. We now know that the tower was built entirely of greystone, it was round with a diameter of about 5.5 m, and it was planned and built together with the perimeter wall. The lost western half of the latter did not join the tower on a radial line. Instead more than half of the tower’s circumference was outside of the perimeter wall, allowing flanking, where bowmen in the tower could strafe along the perimeter wall and keep attackers from scaling or undermining it.
The western perimeter wall between the castle’s two towers was curved or angled, not straight, consisted mainly of greystone, and was 2.3 m thick. It has been very determinedly torn down, probably because someone decided to make Stensö Castle indefensible – effectively removing it from the war game’s board.
As to the lifestyle at the castle, the many animal bones from trench B have the potential to tell us a lot about meals eaten there. Until today we haven’t known at what time the layer with stones and bones was laid down, but today Malin found an eminently datable object in it, answering that question with a high degree of certainty. It’s a small silver annular brooch shaped like an inverted droplet and studded with six small blue glass domes, most of which are crizzled (Sw. glaspest). According to Pia Melin and Göran Tegnér, it dates from 1250-1350, more probably the earlier and middle part of that interval. This gives us a good chronological foothold between c. 1200, when the first part of the castle was built, and 1369, when Lord Holmger and Lady Sigrid celebrated their wedding and Stensö entered the historical record.
Trench C has the most interesting and complicated stratigraphy of the three. We’re now pretty sure that the rectangular stone house foundation partly visible above turf, and on which I orientated the trench, post-dates the end of the castle’s lifetime as a defensible structure. The foundation overlays a stone block that’s most likely fallen from the perimeter wall’s inner face, it consists of similar blocks, and it supports a particularly huge example of the same blocks. Also there is much eroded brick both under and on top of the foundation stones. So the foundation represents a house built among the castle’s ruins. Judging from the amount of animal bones in it, it was a dwelling. But we have only one tiny piece of pottery from it (glazed in yellowish brown on both sides, a post-Medieval trait) and we know nothing about its internal organisation. The castle was eroding before the house was built and it continued to erode after the house was abandoned, covering part of its remains.
I found the marleka concretion disc right next to one of the house’s foundation stones. This has been seen in Medieval house foundations at Åkroken in nearby Nyköping, and probably speaks of a custom of propitious building inauguration deposits. The custom survived into the 20th century though later usually involving steel implements and other magical charms.
All in all we haven’t yet reached the castle’s active use period in trench C. We’re putting the rest of our work there into the lowest-lying part of the trench, farthest from the perimeter wall. With luck we may still extract Medieval material here before we have to close the trench.
Update same day: I’m on regional radio’s streaming site, giving an interview on site in Swedish.