Excavation of a pit house in progress.

In the last blog post we mentioned a pit house. It is still only partially excavated and we are worried about the water levels as the forecast predicts more rain coming. It is already filling up with water..

In the beginning we thought that this feature, which was fairly rounded on the surface, might be a well. But we soon found that it was yet another pit house among many found in Gamla Uppsala. Like many other pit houses, this one contains quite a lot of bones and macro fossils. And they are very well preserved. We have been able to water sieve a substantial amount of the fill in the pit house which has generated a substantial amount of small bones, including even fish scales.

The pit house with the upper fill layer removed.

We have now come very close to the floor layers of the house and some eye catching bones are turning up. First, near the edges of the walls, parts of a cow cranium and the complete mandibula of a pig appeared. Today, right on top of the floor layer appeared a far more unusual find in the shape of a upturned dog cramin. Complete parts of skulls or mandibulas have not been found in upper layers of the house so we think that we might be dealing with some ritual depositions of animals remains after the abandonment of the house. This is however still a very preliminary interpretation. We have to excavate the remaining parts of the house and also evaluate the relationship of the bones and the stratigraphy a bit closer in order to make more well founded interpretations of these finds.

A partial cow cranium and pig mandibula by the walls.

A dog cranium appears.


News from a wet trench

We have now been in the field for almost three weeks. It is time to reveal some results from the first area in the plowed field NW of the central manor area. Our work have progressed fairly well despite heavy rains, 250-300 percent more than normal in May ackorden go SMHI (http://www.smhi.se/klimatdata/meteorologi/kartor/showImg.php?par=nbdAvv). To avoid creating a mud field resembling a WW1 battlefield, we simply had to avoid some parts of the trench. In the beginning of this week half of the trench was filledwith water and on Friday was the groundwater emerging only 0,30 m below the surface in some features. It creates some problems with the documentation and we need to revise some things next week.

Water filled post hole

Before the excavation we had evidence of a settlement and finds of metal from the Viking period. After removing the topsoil, we quickly found that:
1. The accumulation of features were a lot denser to the south than could be appreciated from the survey results.
2. The chronology om the settlement seem to span over at least two generations om houses.
3. We have evidence of 5 buildings.

It seems like we are dealing with a unit where two generations of houses are placed on top each other. We have so far excavated most (the not very wet ones) of the post holes of what seems to be two probably older three ailed buildings. The longer house is at least 30 meters long and seem to be burnt down. It has beutiful stone lined post holes with lots of burnt material in the fill. Unfortunately they do not contain any datable finds yet. We will probably have to wait for some 14C-dates. According to their construction they should be from late 6th go 8th C.

Visualization of the two probably older houses

Our most find rich feature was at the beginning looking like a well. We are really eager to find wells as we do not have any with good, not burnt paleoecological data. But once again it proved to be a pit house. It is however a very nice little building which will be described more in detail tomorrow.


Excavations spring and summer 2015

Today start this years excavations in Gamla Uppsala. It has been possible due to a generous donation by Berit Wallenberg foundation.

This year’s excavation starts with Uppsala ancient monument no 285 and proceeds with nos 123 and 263.

Uppsala 285 is a large and most likely a varied settlement area. To the west it consists of a large area probably with several farms, partly with continuity from the 2nd up to the 12th centuries but mainly with 6/7th -11th century remains. In the central part, the density of features is considerably sparser, largely because the surface is very moist due to seasonally waterlogging. In the eastern part there is a previous, partially excavated enclosure or road construction from 6/7th century which in turn is on top of an older settlement. During May we will excavate a bit of the western part which lies adjacent to the central parts of the royal manor area. It has so far been difficult to identify distinct constructions and features from the Viking period in this area. In this case we think there are good chances to find substantial parts of houses and maybe also crafts. Especially finds from the area indicate a quite rich settlement area from the Viking Age, right below the large plateaus from the Vendel period.

Specific objectives for Uppsala 285 are:
  • To clarify and make a closer dating of the settlement.
  • Investigate how the ancient monument preservation and future threats.
  • Investigate whether the densification of precious metals indicate a scrap depot, a precious metal workshop, or if it have other explanations.
  • Produce a basis for a discussion if it is a single farm or part of a larger complex of farms.
  • Contribute to a deeper knowledge about the similarities and differences between different farms in Gamla Uppsala as a whole as well as to diffuse structures in a Royal Demesne area.