Excavation 2020

The application for the 2020 summer excavation is opening in November! Please check back in the fall for information about next summer's field school. 


Gotland is particularly rich in prehistoric remains. No place in Scandinavia has such a large amount of Viking objects found during the last 200 years, and no area has seen so many silver hoards as Gotland. More than 700 hundred hoards, containing in total more than 200,000 silver coins from the Arabic world, England, Germany and other countries, provide clear evidence of the importance of the island during the Viking Age. The island is also famous for its Bronze Age monuments: enormous cairns and ship-settings, as well as its Early Iron Age house foundations, so-called ‘giant’s graves’. Much of the archaeological research on the island has focused on settlements and harbour sites, but the field school now turns its attention to a different aspect of the coastal region.

In 2018, the field school started a new research project by excavating a Viking Age site on the southeastern coast of Gotland in the parish of Eke. The landscape is littered with remains from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages including cairns, stone walls, grave fields, and an ancient fortification. Today, the location is several hundred meters from the sea, but in previous time periods the shoreline likely came right up to the site and the area has been used as burial grounds and ritual activities for several thousand years. The 2018 excavation concerned the stone-walled enclosure, a fortification called Gudings slott, and our findings indicate human activity at the site from the Late Bronze Age through the Early Middle Ages. We have theorised that the stone-walled enclosure was likely constructed during the Roman Iron Age, possibly for ritual purposes. We also excavated a number of stone cairns located on and around the wall of the enclosure, which revealed Viking Age, as well as Medieval, inhumation graves. Knowing that this ancient structure was used as a burial ground during the Viking Age, in 2019 we turned to a site only 600 meters to the south-west to investigate an area with strange stone constructions. Our goal with this excavation was to formulate an understanding of the activities that took place in this certain location and possibly link it to the Viking Age activities at Gudings slott. We excavated a registered grave, which turned out to be a house foundation, but not a living house; what we found were ritually deposited weapons from the time periods preceding the Viking Age, the Migration and Vendel Periods. Together with additional house foundations and a strange monumental posthole construction dated to the Viking Age, we believe that the area was also a ritual or ceremonial location. The 2020 excavation will concern a number of graves in the area with the intent to acquire dateable materials to further our temporal knowledge of the region and piece together the puzzle we have been working on.

Please note that we are not part of a university and can therefore not provide academic credits. Read more about academic credits and transcripts in the syllabus below.

4 week field course

Please see the project description for more information about this year's excavation area.

The field course is carried out over 4 weeks, from July 13th to August 7th. The course includes full board and transportation from the student residence at Hemse to the excavation site. Field methods that will be applied at the excavation are:

  • Basic excavation methods include the use of excavaition tools, following the layers detecting and separating features, and sifting.
  • Field drawings of plans, sections and features.
  • Field mapping through use of a total station.
  • Find processing including cleaning, measuring, weighing, cataloging and photographing finds.
  • Photographing trenches and features.
  • Filling in basic archaeological documentation forms.

The course is set at a beginner’s level and after the completion of the course the student will be able to excavate a trench and possible features by following single contexts and stratigraphical layers together with documentation through measuring, drawing and writing.

The student will be able to distinguish from different archaeological finds and material, recognize changes in stratigraphy and clean, measure, weigh, photograph and catalog finds. The student will also learn how to write basic archaeological documentation and reports, read academic texts and discuss theories and methods in a group environment. The student should also be able to theorize around the features and find materials as well as contextualize the excavation to the surrounding landscape and the time period.

Included in the course:

  • Full board at Gotland Folk High School in Hemse with double room and three meals per day on all days including weekends.

  • Wifi is included together with laundry room and communal areas.

  • All lectures, seminars and 2 excursions.

  • Gear for excavating (except clothes, shoes and personal equipment).

  • Transport to and from the excavation site and the excursions.

Field school director

Dan Carlsson, PhD, Associate Professor


Field supervisor

Lauren Bokor


Please see the syllabus for 2019.

Please see the FAQ sheet for additional information.


For those with an artistic mind, there is oppurtunity to draw finds. Archaeological drawing is not like an ordinary sketch; you have to show the intricate parts of the artefact that a picture can't show.

GIS and Archaeology

During the course lectures will be held in geographical information systems and how they are used in archaeology.

Gotland Archaeological Field School


Arendus Ltd

Färjeleden 5

SE 621 85 Visby