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 has turned 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 south-eastern 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 ancient fortifications. Today, the location of many monuments are 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 theorized that the stone-walled enclosure was likely constructed during the Roman Iron Age, possibly for ritual purposes. We also excavated a number of graves on and around the wall of the enclosure, which revealed Viking Age, as well as Early 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 some 600 meters to the south-west to investigate an area with strange stone constructions. Our goal with that 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. During the years 2020-21, we continued our excavations along the former coastal area, getting deeper into the question of continuity and change at the site.
The coming summer’s excavation will be concentrated to get a better understanding of the establishment of the wall-encloser Gudings slott, by making at least two main trenches across the northern part of the wall, probably also meaning that we will excavate some graves from Viking Age. Another aim of coming summer’s excavation will be to get a better understanding of the situation in general along the coast, meaning if the situation at Eke is unique or a part of a general pattern.
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 to the right.
5 week field course
The field course is carried out over 5 weeks, from June 27th to July 29th. The course includes full board and transportation from the residence at Hemse to the excavation site. Field methods that will be applied at the excavation are:
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 catalogue 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.
For information about costs and registration procedure, please visit our cooperating partner, Gotland Folk High School here.
Included in the course cost:
For more information on fees and payments, please follow this link
Field school director
Dan Carlsson, PhD, Associate Professor
Alice Rosa Brusin, M.A.
Please see the project description for more information about the background of the project.
Please see the syllabus for 2022
Please see the FAQ sheet for additional information.