Talking and Digging Near Linköping
On Sunday the 10th at 15:00 I'll give a talk at Kaga village hall about my research into Late 1st Millennium central places in Östergötland. I'll show a lot of pictures of new finds and hopefully people will bring their own finds for show-and-tell. It's right by Kaga church, admission is SEK 50, and the organisers will offer their interpretation of an Iron Age snack (apparently involving spelt) afterwards.
11 through 15 September I'll be digging with my pals Howie, Libby, Marie and others in one of three great barrows just across the brook and due east from Sjögestad church. Östergötland has many great barrows. They are evidence for control over a lot of labour, that is, evidence for the presence of powerful people. Few are dated, and it seems that some are Early Bronze Age (c. 1500 BC) and others are Late Iron Age (c. AD 800) -- the period I'm interested in. So to move forward in discussing the political geography of either of these periods, we could use more dates for great barrows.
At 35 meters' diameter and 4.5 meters' height, the barrow in Sjögestad is among the largest in the entire province. What little dating evidence we have is weak and circumstantial: our metal detector survey last Easter showed that there's hardly any metalwork in the surrounding fields, though we did find a 10th century dress pin. On the other hand, there's a ploughed-over settlement site not far from the barrow, where we found a hammer stone that indicates Stone Age or Bronze Age tech.
Excavating a great barrow in its entirety to modern standards is a huge job that I neither could nor would undertake. So our dates aren't coming from the grave goods. Instead, we're sinking a small trench through a peripheral part of the barrow, collecting material from the barrow fill as we move down, and then (if we're lucky) finding something organic beneath the barrow. Radiocarbon dating takes as little as a single carbonised seed grain (why not spelt?) these days with accelerator dating, and it only costs about €350 / $440 a pop. Ideally, we'll get a date for stuff buried under the barrow and another one for the barrow fill, which will together allow us to assign the barrow to one of the two candidate periods.
Dear Reader, feel free to check out the dig!
[More blog entries about archaeology, ironage, Sweden; arkeologi, järnåldern, Östergötland.]