2014-05-13

A new book: Gamla Uppsala i ny belysning

We are happy to announce the release of a new book about Gamla Uppsala, partly funded by fundings from Gellerstedts fond/KVHAA, applied by the project. It is the result of articles written after a seminar arranged by ENES in 2011. The book is edited by O. Sundqvist and P. Vikstrand with contributions by J. Ljungkvist. Some articles are written by project members, presenting results and data from the work on the site. Here you can download the articles.




2013-09-14

And the preliminary results from Offerlunden

We choose to excavate in Offerlunden because of three main reasons.

Firstly we wanted to test if this major depression could contain any well preserved unburnt biological makro-fossil remains, insects or pollen as these kinds of  spots unfortunately are rare in Uppsala. On a photo from 1926 were large parts of Offerlunden filled with water, so it was reasonable that it could contain some kind of wet deposits. To find good deposits is important as the existing pollen diagrams in do not cover any phases beyond c. 500 AD. Our second reason to visit the site was a deposition of burnt juvenile pig bones found in the 1970s. A 14C-sample has been submitted in and we will get the result during the autumn. We thought that it was worth testing if this major depression could contain any further evidence of ritual deposits. Amulets, ritual depositions and other kinds of ritual activities (beside the hall building and church) are very few in manor area. Thirdly is the location of the area very interesting. It is surrounded by the boatgraves (and other graves) in the vicarage, the great mounds and a dense concentration of settlement features linked to the Iron Age manor area. It is a kind of border zone between known grave and settlement areas.

We placed two small trenches; one along the northern slope and one in lowest part of the depression. Right from the start we found massive amounts of pure rubbish from the late 19th and 20th c. Eventually did a layer of stones turn up. It was mixed with even more fairly recent rubbish. Some finds were 17th or 18th c. , but they were comparatively few and mixed up with the other stuff. A surprising find, totally out of context, was a Medieval ring brooch.
So what did we find below these layers? Well, almost nothing. There were no real prehistoric or medieval layers preserved. The exception was a probably prehistoric hearth was found dug down into the sterile sand.

It is hard not to be slightly disappointed about this result, but we are on the other hand spoiled with good results during the last years. We also knew that this trench was a gamble. A reference pit was placed a few meters away from the other trenches and slightly further up in the terrain. Here we found a culture layer with no post medieval finds and a hard clay and pebble layer below. It reveals that old well preserved layers do exist near the first trenches.
Offerlunden in 1926. Full of water and rubbish on the brinks.
It now seems like the lower parts of Offerlunden were deepened in the late 19th c. and thereafter used as a duck pond among other things. In this period was its setting not very ritual. It was placed right by the courtyard of one of the farms and also used as rubbish pit. The depression itself was probably slightly more shallow in the Iron Age but we still know little about its function in this period. We do not know whether it originally was a natural feature or not. We are still waiting for the dating of the bone deposition and the hearth. During the autumn we will also evaluate the results a bit more when we work with the report.