Unlocking the past – Festival of British Archaeology

Spent the day running an event for British Archaeology festival, at Corfe Castle in Dorset. We had our National Trust activities, environmental sort trays, mosaic making, spinning and weaving, etc. The Ancient Wessex Network, a group of archaeologists and artists/artisans with their activities – prehistoric pottery, wood carving, metal casting, art works, archaeological illustration and beads. Also Gerry the rope with his Victorian encampment and games. Along with the County council historic environment department and Finds liasion officer. Had some great feed back on our comment cards with one memorable one from a child under What have you learnt today, ‘that even a stone has a history’ Its great to spend time with young people with bright eyes and lots of questions so hope fully there is still a future for our past. Now time for bed, perchance to dream …………..

A different kind of digging

My name is Magnus Reuterdahl, I’m a Swedish archaeologist and osteologist currently working at Kalmar County Museum. I’ve been blogging on archaeology since 2007 at Testimony of the spade, in English, and blog on occasion for the museum blog in Swedish.

 Archaeology is a strange thing, you’d think I would be out digging in the dirt all summer long, but no. Currently I’m doing in-door stuff – not due to lack of work but due to the fact the land owners and or building contractors either have vacation or have lots of people on vacation and can’t organize wood cutting needed etc. Well, I’ll be digging again soon enough 🙂

 Then what do you do – well lets dig into old digs and finds from old digs – some have not been catalogued or needs to be recatalouged, reports that hasn’t been finished needs a little TLC etc. So this is what I currently do.

This work is a bit of detective work, as you often haven’t participated in the dig and you’ll have to read up, try to find the original notes and get into the methods of registration done then etc. A couple of these digs have been laying about for more than just a few years.

When doing something like that this you’ll bound to stumble on some interesting artefacts such as this bronze tool, found at a excavation just next to Hossmo church, Kalmar County.

 A bronze lucet, probably from the late Viking Age or the early Middle Ages (ca 600-1200 AD), used for twinning cords in the same way as bone lucet or as they are called in Swedish tinbl bein. The lucet is made of a folded thin bronze plate, and has had two points at the end, the object is about 3 inches long.

Another find that caught my interest was found on the island Öland, just east of Kalmar, at Övra Vannborga, is 18 teeth beads. The beads are made out of front tooth from several deer, the roots are pierced, and they probably have been sitting on a garment. The beads were found in a grave originally believed to be of Neolithic origin though the 14C-analsys proved the grave and the beads to be older than that, they are from the Mesolithic, ca 7000 BC.

By working with finds you learn a lot, not just about the finds themselves but also about the context they been found, how they been made, where other finds alike them has been found and not but not least you come very close to the common man or woman, to the prehistoric individual – you find objects from which you can eventually can build a story, their story, so that both you and I might understand their and perhaps our time better.

That’s all for now

Magnus Reuterdahl