Second Week of 2015 Excavations at Stensö Castle

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 hot dog barbecue. Ethan Aines, Terese Liberg and three students stayed on to finish trench F, while myself, Mats Eriksson and six students moved to our new base at Landsjö Manor.

Trenches D and E and the test pits produced no big news after my last report. Trench F inside the tower yielded a neat midden of bones and abundant large potsherds just below the stairwell. Ethan suggests that there may have been a few wooden steps here, providing a convenient spot under them to sweep trash. I'm itching to get the pottery cleaned, classified and dated. In fact, I'm itching to learn Medieval pottery in more detail. We also got a funny domed sheet copper lid that looks like it might belong to a pitcher or beer stein. It was partly encased in stalagmite, so we can't see all of it yet.

Domed sheet copper lid, inside view, Stensö Castle Domed sheet copper lid, inside view, Stensö Castle

I think I've finally figured out where the west reach of Stensö's perimeter wall is, and why we found it in trench A but not in trenches B or E. Now that I've seen it I don't know how I missed it. There's a low but very wide strip of rubble all around the NW, W and SW sides of the southern tower, clearly separate from the tower and at such a distance (5-10 m) that the rubble can't have originated with the tower itself. In parts this rubble strip has quite a high and steep outer face. I'm pretty sure this is the robbed-out remains of the perimeter wall. I've planned it now but I didn't have the foresight to apply for a permit to section it.

On Thursday the Trench F Five worked two hours' overtime backfilling while getting fried by the sun inside the roofless tower. They must have been exhausted. I told them by phone to hit the pizza place afterwards, have a sleep-in and get their stuff packed up in a leisurely good time. When they arrived at Landsjö on Friday afternoon they were in good shape. By this time we had also been joined again by our excellent friend from the Kimstad Historical Society, Curt Andersson. On Monday I expect another friend to join, so there will be fifteen of us.

We need another boat! Because that's how Landsjö Castle on its semi-landlocked islet is most conveniently reached. We're digging three trenches at Landsjö: trench F inside the NW tower, trench G across the assumed line of the missing SE reach of perimeter wall (I have a new-found appreciation for why Victorian antiquarians always had their workmen follow walls around), and trench H on the odd rubble mound separated from the castle by a dry moat. Superficially it shows a quarry pit and the remains of a big badger sett, but I reckon there's probably a gate tower under there as well.

Misty summer evening lit by the full moon at our lodgings at Smedstorp Misty summer evening lit by the full moon at our lodgings at Smedstorp

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2014 trenches A-E and rough locations of 2015 trenches F-H. 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…
Christian Loven's plan of Landsjö Islet with letters marking on-going fieldwork. 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…
After four days of rubble removal in trench A, we found the south wall of Stensö Castle's northern tower. Note how the wall facing (left) ends, and a pale mass of wall core (lower right) emerges out of the tower. This is the castle's previously unseen western perimeter wall. Our first week of…
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!…

Great update, thank you, the lid is pretty cool. You wonder who drank out of that, some lord or peasant -- but there I go wool-gathering again. I hope you find your gatehouse, I love reading this stuff from the field.

No one drank out of it. It's a lid.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Jul 2015 #permalink

Obviously an elven helmet. Adds 2 health points. A factor frequently neglected in mediaeval archaeology.

By dustbubble (not verified) on 07 Jul 2015 #permalink