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A fun thing about historical archaeology, the archaeological study of areas and periods with abundant indigenous written documentation, is when the archaeology challenges the written record. According to the patchily preserved historical sources, Landsjö hamlet was a seat of the high nobility in about 1280 but then became tenant farms no later than 1340. This…

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…

June Pieces Of My Mind #2

WTF! Ugly digital version of the wonderful claymation Shaun the Sheep! Curses! Top three Women As Sex Robots songs: Rollergirl: Superstar. Teddybears Sthlm: Yours To Keep. Kylie Minogue: Can’t Get You Out Of My Head. In the otherwise excellent boardgame Lords of Waterdeep there’s a quest called “Retrieve Ancient Artefacts”. Come on, do I really…

Compare the disc from Stensö to these “fairy stone” calcium carbonate concretions from the Harricana River in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue admin region, Quebec, Canada. The Stensö piece has been sanded smooth and flat on one side. Locally these things are known as marlekor or mallrikor. Thanks to project advisor Lotta Feldt of the Östergötland County Museum…

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…

Heading For My Dig

It’s Sunday morning and I’m getting ready for four weeks of excavations. I haven’t done any digging since the Pukberget cave dig in 2011, and my last multi-week dig with a big team was at Sättuna in 2008. So it’s high time, and I’m excited. Getting stuff from my study, packing stuff at home, buying…

Think Before You Drop-Shadow

Many graphic designers like to cut out objects from photographs and give them a digital drop shadow on the page. Here’s an example of why this is often a bad idea. Since it’s working with a 2D image, the drop shadow algorithm has to assume that the object has no depth or surface contour. In…