Today was the day of a grant feast in Viking style in the Kvarnbo Viking village that was launched by Ömsen together with Fornföreningen Fibula to celebrate Ömsen’s 150 years of activity. And what a feast it was! 🙂 Good food and excellent ale, many wonderful and happy people. At the site, we were also prepeared for the visitors – I even created an “extra” trench marking out all of our 252 archaeological features so that we could explain everything without stepping into the real trench. We were happy to see that our project sparks interest in a lot of people 🙂 – many found their way from the Kvarnbo Viking village to us and there were lot of questions asked. It is stimulating and encouraging to meet so many enthusiastic visitors and we thank everybody that found their way to our site!
Much has happened on the site during this week. Most importantly, we started soil stripping with the machine and managed to uncover roughly half of the intended area on and around the longhouse structure as seen on the aerial photo. Many different features appeared and even more become visible through meticulous manual cleaning. However, it is also apparent that the site is disturbed and we can clearly distinguish the effect of the plow which often has cut through archaeological features… At this stage, it is hard to tell which features are to be related to the Iron Age use of the area and the hall building(s), but it will certainly become clearer as we investigate further. Some nice finds surfaced this week as well, but these will be presented at a later stage 😛
Also, at the end of this week we are sad to say good-bye to a number of excellent people who had to return to their everyday lives. Thank you Hannele (and what a wonderful piece of art!), Kåre, Linnéa, Markus and Thomas – you all made a fantastic effort and you all will be missed!
It has not been just work though – the vikings from the Fornföreningen Fibula invited us to the kick-off dinner on Wednesday for this year’s Viking Market. Clothes were provided by Fibula and we looked spectacular with our mix of jeans, sneakers and linen tunics 😉 They (together with many visiting vikings) became our guests on Friday evening when the excavations were presented on the site.
To the left: we are visiting the vikings and thanks to Michaela, almost dressed up as vikings as well 😀 (Anton photographed with Thomas phone). To the right: vikings visiting us (Peter photographed with his own phone)
Weeks ago, I was counting weeks until the beginning of the excavations, now, however, it is the matter of counting days 🙂 In exactly 30 days (or about 720 hours) the excavations will officially commence. How exiting is this!!!
Invitation to the biggest birthday party ever organized on the Åland Islands
While on the subject of counting, in exactly 70 days (or about 1680 hours), there will be a grant feast in Viking style in the Kvarnbo Viking village launched by Ömsen together with Fornföreningen Fibula to celebrate Ömsen’s 150 years of activity. There are 17 400 (!!!) private customers invited to this birthday party (which must be like the biggest birthday party ever organized on Åland considering that the islands have a population of only 28 000). And the program is rather pompous. Obviously, food and drinks will be offered, there are a lots of hands-on activities planned as well as performances. And I will be talking as well 🙂 – there will be three short lectures about the Late Iron Age on Åland. I’ll have a chronological approach meaning that I will start by telling about the global climate happenings and its’ impacts on Åland in the beginning of the era, second lecture might be titled as the time of the Kvarnbo Hall, and in my third lecture I will discuss the matters related to the end of the Late Iron age and I will try to do my best to answer the question, why there are no rune-stones on Åland. Visitors are also welcomed to visit our excavation site at the same time and see all the magic that has been revealed to that point 😀
If you have received the invitation to this feast, do not forget to register the whole family on www.omsen.ax before 20 June (that is in 9 days or about 216 hours counting from now 😀 )
Things proceed so quickly at our site, for example, yesterday we had an hypothesis of a palisade in trench 2, but today this idea is discarded. Furthermore, trench 2 was quickly and entirely backfilled today and there will be no digging there anymore. All because of the two parallel ditches intersecting the cultural layer being much more recent than their fill indicated. The fact is that in the depth of 1.1 m we stumbled upon plastic pipe that surely does not date to the Iron Age 😀 – it is the water pipe of much more recent date. But this is archaeology, you never know if don’t investigate!
The evening at our site, however, was much more pleasant, because, today, we organised an event together with the association Fornföreningen Fibula during which we visualized the size of the hall with torches. About 60-70 people where out on the field to listen me talking about my project and the excavations and Frands telling about hall-buildings. There was even a short spectacle directed by Frands “inside” of our hall exactly as these were played during the Viking Age 🙂
Today is the day before it all starts 🙂 The excavation-plans at the site of Sa 14.9 were kindly approved by the Museum of Åland and, thus, anyone passing the church of Saltvik in-between the 1st and 14th of September is welcome to have a look at the northern side of the church in order to see us working out in the field.
There will be two trenches opened up: one of 20 squares at the site of the hall and another one of 10 squares at the second longhouse located at the site. And today we were busy setting out these trenches, but also fix points for total station (which, apparently, can lead to blue hands 😉 ) as well as fix points for photogrammetry (i.e. measuring from photographs) and aerial photography planned at the site. Thanks to the association Fornföreningen Fibula who loaned us table and benches we could even have our first lunch out in the field in a civilized way, though working with the laptop turned out to be best executed under the table 😀 In any case – tomorrow will be the official start of the excavations and as I have an intention to keep a daily update, follow this blog to find out how the dig progresses!
The Viking vessel built by the association Fornföreningen Fibula is now proven to be floating 🙂 and the launching event was a major success! Well, except the weather, maybe, because despite the sunshine, there were quite so heavy northerly winds blowing all day long. So, in terms of talking, standing on top of the table, I almost had to scream in order to be heard. But it went well – and I was so happy to see all the interested people who gave my work such a warm reception!! It is clearly much more fun in doing archaeology when you can share the results and get feedback at the same time.
The vessel was standing in the Viking village for everyone to admire up close before it was time to transport it towards the water. There were so many who wanted to help and it was pure pleasure to see how easily the boat was hauled; it moved almost effortlessly. And the entire distance of 500 m from the place where it was built to Kvarnbo bay was covered with less than 30 minutes. I was really impressed, because, to be honest, I was a little skeptical prior to and kind of thought that the hauling will take hours… But the vessel just glided over the fields and ditches 🙂 What a mighty effort by everyone involved! On the waterfront, before the vessel got into the water, it was given a name for good luck and safe travel – Borge Svan. Translating the name to English it would be “The Swan of Borge” and this name has it’s origins in the fact that first logs for the vessel were from Borgboda, chopped just by the spectacular Viking Age hill-fort of Borge. The vessel was named with the help of mead as It would have been unthinkable to throw any other booze to the Viking vessel 😉 Btw, many ancient seafaring societies have had special ceremonies for launching a new ship and booze has always had quite a central role in these ceremonies. To associate the naming with champagne is, however, pretty recent phenomenon dating to the end of the 19th century. In any case, the person throwing mead across the boat’s bow was Britt Lundberg, the speaker of the Åland Parliament, who thereby had the honor of being the godmother to Borge Svan. And then the boat was slipped into the water where it behaved in a gallant manner.To sum up, it was a wonderful day, and I wish all the luck to Borge Svan as well as to Fibula, who will surely keep up their good work in increasing knowledge about Viking Age on the Åland islands!
If you happen to be on the Åland Islands tomorrow, Saturday 14th of June, you should absolutely come to Kvarnbo, to the Viking village, at 12 o’clock noon 🙂 because after two years of hard work, the association called Fornföreningen Fibula is ready to launch their (first) Viking ship and I will speak about Viking Age!
Fibula is all about increasing knowledge about Viking Age on Åland and they are active in reconstructing different constructions from the time in the Viking village, situated just by the road to Kvarnbo; they implement experiments and regularly demonstrate various crafts to public as well as have courses in ancient handicraft for people interested. They also engage in role play and re-enactment. Not to mention their role in the very successful yearly Viking market that has been arranged in Saltvik since year 2000. And starting from April 2012, the members of Fibula have built a Viking ship that has been inspired by the archaeological finds from Valsgärde, Sweden. Well, to be entirely correct, Fibula has built a boat and not a ship, as it is just 10 meters long 😛 and in the maritime archaeology tradition I have been educated in, the kinds of vessels under the discussion that are sized less than 12 meters in length are to be called boats. However, in general, I suppose the question about the difference between a boat and a ship will always remain a hot topic of discussion among people as there are other factors besides the length of the vessel to consider before any labelling.
Olaus Magnus 1555 (Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus)
In any case, the launching of Fibula’s boat will be a really spectacular event as the boat will be carried (!) and hauled (!) and rolled forward on logs (!) about 500 meters from the location where it was built to Kvarnbo bay where the vessel will be launched and given a proper name.
But before the activities connected to the actual launch of the Viking vessel, yours truly will talk about Viking Age in general, about Viking Age in Kvarnbo, but most of all, about the longhouse and other finds in the field north of the church of Kvarnbo. To be honest, I am a bit intimidated as there is no PowerPoint available, or any other technical equipment for that matter, and this will be thus my very first 30 minutes presentation ever without for me a customary possibility to show pictures… Come and witness how it happens! 😀
However, if you are interested in somewhat longer presentation with loads and loads of lovely pictures and with the possibility to ask me questions, you should absolutely attend the presentation I will have on Tuesday 17th of June. This presentation takes room in the Åland Parliament Building in Mariehamn – Självstyrelsegården – in the auditorium called Sälskär, at 18 o’clock. This presentation will have much more specific focus on my project.
Although there are some parts that are overlapping, these two presentations will still be unlike and, therefore, I say – come to both! And, yes, both presentations will be in Swedish.