Monday, April 17, 2006

Fieldwork in Östra Husby

The Vikbolandet peninsula in Östergötland is full of rich Viking Period finds and interesting contemporaneous place names. But they don't form a core concentration anywhere: things are nebulous. So when I drew up the list of sites me and my colleagues have been metal detecting lately, I didn't have an obvious candidate site for a princely seat on Vikbolandet. I chose a site with a 9th century rune stone in Östra Husby, a parish whose name shows it to have had a royal mansion in the 11th century (immediately after the period I'm studying, AD 400-1000).

Today I drove down to Vikbolandet and put in five hours of solitary metal detecting within a radius of 200 m from the rune stone. Very varied weather, with sunshine and rainfall and wind and rainbows.

And I identified a previously unknown prehistoric site. But it's several millennia older than the stuff I'm looking for: it's a ploughed-out Stone Age settlement visible as a scatter of knapped quartz in the ploughsoil.

Quartz was a low-budget surrogate for flint in large parts of Sweden, and it's really hard to understand as a finds category since it fractures in an almost random way. You need to be a far better knapper to make quartz do what you want than is the case with flint. So people seem simply to have bashed at quartz pebbles until something sharp and useful resulted, leaving enormous amounts of shapeless debitage for posterity.

Of the 1st millennium AD, no sign so far. The oldest datable metalwork is 18th century.

I'm staying with a charming old couple, both retired school teachers, whose acquaintance I made last summer while digging at Skamby. We had a lovely evening tea together, chatting, cleaning the finds and identifying the day's coins. I'm in their spare room. Let's see if I can get this blog posting on-line despite the flaky cell reception here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish you better luck tomorrow!

18 April, 2006 17:55  
Blogger Martin said...

Thank you, kind stranger! I did seven hours today and found two brooches: a broken 6th century one and a beautiful intact little 10th century one. But I reckon they're not much of a central-place indication.

18 April, 2006 22:44  

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