The more I read about the Iron Age on the Åland islands, the more I feel discouraged by the principle gaps in our understanding of the period. It has become obvious that there are so many source-critical aspects in need to be considered before one could move on to further interpretations. And because of that -in my dark hours- I wonder if there is any possibility to shape new meaning out of existing material at all… But today, I am not going to dwell on these matters. Instead, I would like to share the results of my first field studies at the site that is the very reason for my research and interest in the Iron Age on the Åland islands – I have namely conducted small-scale fieldwalking in Kvarnbo, Saltvik, at “my” longhouse site 🙂 Rather than to describe everything, I attempted to visualize the results on the picture below.
The field that was used as a horse paddock last summer was plowed this autumn revealing an extensive black cultural layer that could already be observed on and coincided with the infra-red photography displaying the anomalies. This deep black surface distinguished from the surrounding soil on the field also by its abundance of stones. In the area where the longhouse is indicated by the photo, higher frequency of fire-cracked stones was observed. In the same area, I also noted distinct sandy lenses on the plowed-up surface. And I do not think that the sand on the surface of furrows represents the sterile and natural layer. In 2012 and 2014, under the monitoring of an archaeologist, different kind of cable trenches have been dug along the southern, western and northern edges of the field roughly clarifying the stratigraphic situation in the area. Therefore, I have no doubt that the sand I observed represents behavioral process and has been deposited at the site. In this connection, it is relevant to note that excavated Late Iron Age house foundations on Åland witness that some houses have had completely or partially stone paved floors, but more importantly, there are also house remains with clay as well as sanded floors investigated on Åland. However, the strongest verification for the presence of a foundation for a longhouse on the field in Kvarnbo is the appearance (although, not in abundance!) of chunks of burned clay – burnt daub with imprints of twigs and straw is the evidence of the use of wattle-and-daub construction at the site.
You can only imagine how very much I would like to dig at the site now 😉