Last week, my work at the Museum of Åland brought me close to my hall 🙂 – I conducted archaeological monitoring during the installation of pipes in the area just about 350 m southwest from the longhouse site, at the site called Sa 19.5. The site is located directly by the former east-west waterway, on the southern bank and, thereby, opposite to the longhouse site on the northern side. Looking at the map today, it seems weird that Sa 19.5 is not part of the village of Kvarnbo, belonging instead to the village of Liby. But, while imagining this former waterway, the separation makes totally sense.
The fact is that Kvarnbohall is situated in a generally archaeology-rich area. Just within a 400 m radius from the site, there are 6 (!) other archaeological sites registered, all of which have also been investigated to a varying degree. And Sa 19.5 is one of these. This site was discovered as a result of a find of an ornamented animal-head shaped brooch characteristic to Viking Age Gotland (ÅM 148) that came into the Museum of Åland in 1944. Such brooches are not unique, but the fact is that these brooches are argued to have been made almost exclusively on the island of Gotland, Sweden. Thus, if such brooches are found outside of their area of origin, they witness movement and contact in Viking Age societies. The brooch on Åland was found while digging for the dwelling house foundation and minor archaeological excavations conducted by Matts Dreijer in the vicinity of that house in 1945 established a proper cultural layer with finds of, among other things, iron tools and wattle-and-daub. Emanating from the site location in relation to the estimated site-contemporary shoreline, Sa 19.5 was interpreted as a Viking Age beach camp. Unfortunately, the exact extent of the site is still considered unknown.
What I identified during the archaeological monitoring at Sa 19.5 coincided with the earlier observations – in the 1,2 m deep, but only 0,5 m wide trench dug directly to the east from the corner of the house there was a cultural layer of quite so impressive dimensions. As deepest, it was 0,7 m thick and generated typical material for a settlement area: pieces of wattle-and-daub, burnt and unburnt animal bones as well as heat-shattered stones. In the trench section, a number of archaeological features were visible including one possible hearth. Besides, I could demarcate the extent of the cultural layer towards east. In addition, it was encouraging to find out that the current landowner is really positive towards archaeology welcoming archaeological ventures, and, trust me, I would gladly investigate Sa 19.5 as I am sure, the site is connected to a watercraft landing site 😉 (and maritime landing sites are, after all, something I happen to be very interested in), furthermore, as Sa 19.5 seems to date to the same period as Kvarnbohall, these two sites close to each other are hardly totally unconnected.