Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Fieldwork in Sjögestad


After a rare night of poor sleep I woke into a snowy morning. Kissing the beautiful ladies of my family goodbye, I lugged my stuff down to the car and drove for 2½ hours to Linköping. The snow cleared off pretty soon. I was entertained by the BBC's digital tech podcast, a reading of Kerouac's On the Road and R.U. Sirius's podcast with an interview of sex-ed podcaster Violet Blue. She's got a really nice laugh.

Sirius also played an excellent psychedelic mashup of Dolly Parton singing "Stairway to Heaven" (!), Annie Lennox singing "This City Never Sleeps" and the Beatles singing "Because" and "The End". All elegantly knitted together by someone who calls themselves DJ Earworm.

Kerouac and his buddies, male and female, were of course, by definition really, extremely out of it. Self-absorbed junkies. I pity their kids. But he writes well -- even though it's frustrating to hear/read about these people bumbling around, entirely unfit for adult life. Grow up, you silly bastards!

Picked up the metal detecting permit in Linköping and went to Sjögestad church where I found my friends Tim Olsson, of owl-accident fame, and Kenth Lärk. They'd come up from Gothenburg with their detectors. Off we went to the site, donned bright orange attention vests, and put in 13½ manly man-hours of metal detecting. It's not the first time these guys come up to work with me in their free time, and I'm very grateful.

I'm looking for the late 1st millennium elite of Östergötland. The petty kings, if you like. The courts of their peers in other provinces are best identified by the profusion of metalwork strewn across the sites. What caught my attention at Sjögestad was a group of undated great barrows east of the church, one of them named Lustigkullen, "the Merry Barrow". (Maybe something to do with mid-summer revels?) I'm going back in September to try to get some datable charcoal from under the periphery of the largest barrow.

But we didn't find our Geatish princelings today. After cleaning the finds, we decided to keep only four of them: a broken 18/19th century silver thingy, a 17th century copper coin, the leg of a 15/16th century brass cooking pot and the decorative bronze head of a 10th century dress pin. A Viking Period find is of course nice, but I highly doubt that a single dress pin would have impressed the aristocrats I'm chasing.

We still have quite an area to cover in Sjögestad tomorrow morning, so we'll see what turns up. And then the permit covers another five sites...

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