This year’s excavations at the Kvarnbo Hall site commenced yesterday. During the very first week, there are only professional archaeologists working at the site. And I am very lucky to have Frands Herschend, Jan-Henrik “Henke” Fallgren and Kim Darmark in my team. There is hardly a better team to wish for: Frands, who is an archaeology professor at Uppsala University, is -among many other things- the man behind the definition of a hall, Henke has profound knowledge about the Iron Age settlement and archaeology in the North, and Kim, who is actually a Stone Age archaeologist, has such a vast experience in field archaeology combined with a scientific mind that it is difficult to parallel. I am pretty certain that the Åland Islands have never had so qualified group of archaeologists working at the same site at the same time 😉
This first week of the excavations was planned as a set-up week. The intention is to prepare the effective routines before the volunteers join the excavations as well as to get the “feel” of the site in calmer conditions. The excavations are planned as a two-stage study: we start with the investigation of the plow layer (i.e the surface layer of the soil which is affected by agricultural plowing (and in the case of Kvarnbo, we are talking about several hundreds of years of plowing, since the area has been under agricultural use from the middle ages onward)). It is pretty unusual to study layers disturbed by plow, as the archaeologically interesting material in these layers has been so disturbed, that many archaeologists consider it too difficult to say anything meaningful about it. At the same time, there are some studies that have shown that plowing might not disperse artefacts at a site so greatly. So, one of our intentions is to study the spatial distribution of the material. I am also interested in getting a comprehensive overview of the material at the site in general, especially, of the material that is impossible to track down by other means, such as metal detecting. In order to do this, we have laid out a grid on the field and plan to excavate 1 m squares in the plow layer on top of the longhouse as well as in the surrounding areas. Therefore, there are many iron rods with yellow flags on the field right now, but there will probably be even more. The second stage of the excavations is more commonplace when it comes to the study of sites in agriculturally plowed areas – the plow layer will be stripped away with the help of an excavator in order to study archaeological features in situ, i.e. features that have not been disturbed by plow.