Fieldwork

Category archives for Fieldwork

I write these lines on the day after we backfilled the last two trenches at Landsjö, packed up our stuff, cleaned the manor house, hugged each other and went our separate ways. It’s an odd feeling to take apart the excavation machine while it still runs. It’s been four fun and successful weeks! Since my…

Like Stensö, Landsjö Castle has half of a rare perimeter wall and is known to have been owned by a descendant of Folke Jarl – or rather, by his daughter-in-law, the widow of such a descendant. Last year we found that the high inner bailey has a previously unseen southern wall with a square tower…

Balancing available labour and a pre-decided excavation agenda against each other is not easy, particularly when you’re doing investigative peek-hole fieldwork on a site whose depth and complexity of stratification you don’t know much about. At Stensö we had two of three trenches and all five test pits backfilled in time for Wednesday lunch’s on-site…

This year’s first week of fieldwork at Stensö Castle went exceptionally well, even though I drove a camper van belonging to a team member into a ditch. We’re a team of thirteen, four of whom took part in last year’s fieldwork at the site. All except me and co-director Ethan Aines are Umeå archaeology students.…

Guest Digging At Birka

When I tell people I’m an archaeologist, they often ask ”So have you dug at Birka?”. As of yesterday I can finally proudly reply ”yeah, a bit”. ”Birka” is a Latinate attempt to write Biærkey, ”Birch Island”. It’s an island in Lake Mälaren, two hours by slow boat from Stockholm. For a bit more than…

Ruin On An Islet

Landsjö castle is on a high islet in the lake next to the modern manor house. Nobody ever goes there. The ruins are covered by vegetation and they’re in bad shape: only along the western side of the islet do they rise even a metre above the rubble and accumulated forest mulch. Visible is a…

Brooch and Ruin Dwellers

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…

Found Two Walls And A Strange Disc

Our first week of two at Stensö is over, and already Chris, Fanny and Simon have made trench A answer the question we’ve asked of it. Way back in line with the trench’s top edge on the flank of the northern tower’s ruin mound, they’ve uncovered a neat wall face of dressed ashlar, and out…

Medieval walls are usually shell walls, where you construct an inner and outer shell of finely fitted masonry while filling the space between them with a jumble of smaller stones and mortar. Usually the facing stones don’t project much into the core. When the wall is allowed to erode, once the cap stones have fallen…

Starting Up At Stensö

Drove down to Vikbolandet on Sunday night with my excellent colleague Ethan Aines from Stanford, and we were met at expedition HQ by seven of my Umeå students from last autumn semester. Very pleased to see them again! They’ve just finished their second term and several are scheduled to go on to the third. So…