Friday, December 22, 2006

Radiocarbon for Christmas

Back in September I told you about a little dig that I did with my friends and colleagues Howard, Libby and Peter at Stora Tollstad, Sjögestad parish, Östergötland. We dug a small peripheral trial trench into a great barrow (Raä 16) and found a thick charcoal layer underneath it.
Yesterday Tomasz Goslar of the Poznan Radiocarbon Lab sent me the results of analyses of charcoal from the barrow. Ulf Strucke had kindly identified two pieces for me with a low innate age: one of Norway Spruce (Picea abies, Sw. gran) and one of Goat Willow (Salix caprea, Sw. sälg). The willow material, being a thin twig, should date the cremation pyre at the site (although we found no bones at its periphery). And the analyses came out beautifully!
Spruce. Poz-18592. 1265±30 BP. 685-775 cal AD (1 s).
Willow. Poz-18593. 1210±30 BP. 775-875 cal AD (1 s).

The Sjögestad barrow was clearly erected in the late 8th or the 9th century AD, that is, the Late Vendel or Early Viking Period. This fits well with the dates of similar barrows in the Lake Mälaren area and rules out a Bronze Age date, the other big barrow period in Swedish prehistory. And behind every great barrow lurks a powerful group of mourners...

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Anonymous Mattias said...

Good work! Hope more big mounds will be teared from the frantic grips of bronze age mourners!

23 December, 2006 10:13  
Blogger Martin said...

Thanks! Yeah, the next one up is the Sättuna barrow on the SW shore of Lake Roxen.

23 December, 2006 10:15  

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