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 some extra tools and a lot of food.

My crew of ten will be assembling at a farm-labourers' dorm in Östra Husby starting tonight, and tomorrow we break turf at Stensö castle ruin as the first archaeologists to dig there. Most team members are first-year students from Umeå whom I taught during the autumn term. Other participants are friends and colleagues. It's going to be an archaeological hippie commune – I'm cooking lentil soup for dinner tomorrow! And I'm bringing Medieval-themed geeky boardgames. Stay tuned for updates!

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Stensö castle, trench C, the part along the perimeter wall. Note the ashlar. 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!…
I've headed my own research excavations since 1996. Now I'm preparing for four weeks of fieldwork during the upcoming season. I operate as an independent scholar in this context, and none of my excavations have been prompted by land development. Here's what I need to get hold of before I can break…
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My excavations this summer will target the ruins of two Medieval castles near Norrköping. Christian Lovén and I have selected these two because unusually, both have curtain walls (Sw. ringmur) but do not seem to have belonged to the Crown. The High Middle Ages in Sweden are poorly documented in…

Working on larger jobs there is a semi-random need for us to call in our reserve of site prep tools. Mainly a collection of shovels, rakes, an axe or two, and other similar tools for the short term labor but also seldom used, but vital, pieces of equipment like steel tapes, an optical level and a transit. these were kept in the shed and when called for the secretary/ bookkeeper, a woman in her 50s, would back up her small hatchback hand load up the equipment and drive it out to us. Where you find out the tool you need is at the bottom any you have to disgorge the lot to get to it. Everyone felt it was a PITA and it got mud and grease in her vehicle and ended up with the glass in her hatchback broken, twice.

So we skulled out a solution:


Nothing special about that particular trailer make or model. I think we got ours from Northern Tools but it was similar.

We had to cut a few holes and fit a heavy nylon sack device in each to allow for longer tool handles to stick out the back while keeping the water and critters out but it pretty much worked from day-one. Now the secretary just backs up her car, hooks up the trailer, and drives to the site. Where we unhook it, chain it to a heavy object, and wave goodbye. No fuss, no muss, no mud in her vehicle, and no time wasted loading and unloading. Everything we need is in one spot and easy to get to. It even works as something of a tool shed/ job box. We eventually bolted on a bracket to hold a 5 gal Igloo cooler for ice water and a box for people to stow their coats and lunches.

With the trailer prepackaged with all the stuff we need nothing gets left behind and we know where all the pieces are.

My apartment looks like the car (can't throw away things).

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 23 Jun 2014 #permalink

Oh I am tuned in, Martin, good luck! How will you ever decide where to dig? On time team when they dig up a castle they always seem to try a trench at the entrance as though they're looking for the stuff that fell out of medieval people's pockets when they fumbled around for their keys coming home at night. I've never really understood why that's a good spot to start.

Good to have you on board, Kev! A blog entry to answer your questions is coming up in two hours.