Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gotland Field School - Day 1

Just for the record, I can already see that I won't be able to keep this rate of posting up. This is tiring work. But today, we only dug for half a day and it was our first day, so it's special.

The morning was spent with Dan Carlsson and others introducing this year's dig - his reasoning for, and evidence behind, the choice of dig location this year. Pretty interesting, and well reasoned out, and well.... too long to go into here.

We are digging in the middle of a small town, in people's back yards, so..... I give you turf lifting the old fashioned way!

We are each responsible for a 1 metre by 1 metre square. This is Neil getting a start on his 1 metre square.

This is me sieving my first bucket of dirt.

This is the backyard of the house that we can dig in. Some homeowners were enthusiastic about the project and some put limitations on where and how long we can be there. This homeowner is very enthusiastic and apparently has said 'dig it all up!'

This is my first box of finds, in the first layer of the trench. For those not familiar with archaeology, that's the fairly modern stuff. You can see pottery shards, flint shards, chert shards, some glass bits, and two nails. Dan offered a bottle of champagne to the first person to find a Viking Age coin. Sadly, I am not yet that person.

And for the gastronomically inclined, this is tonight's dinner. We're eating as a group on a meal plan, at a nearby restaurant. Buffet style, limited choices each night. Tonight we had some sort of fish in some sort of sauce and chicken in some sort of gravey with vegetables and baked potatoes. Both lunch and dinner are very...... culturally specific.

I'm struggling with the language barrier. Although the course is officially taught in english, there are only 4 english speakers in the group, and the Swedes.... slip into what is comfortable and familiar at times. It will be an interesting experience.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stockholm to Gotland, and settling into fieldschool

When last we left the story, Neil and Karen were saying goodbye to the Hotel Rival for a month. We have one more night there at the end of the month on the way home. It is a wonderful place, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Snorri made a sad farewell to Teddy.

We trundled off to Bromma airport to pick up our flight to Gotland. A slight delay in that they cancelled our trip, and moved us to the next plane, an hour later. No big deal, we weren't in a rush.This was our plane - getting in by climbing up the stairs is old school now 'though - we did that on the last IcelandAir flight. But the propellers were new to me. And the experience of flying an entire trip in an airplane without understanding a word of the language was a first as well. Good thing the safety demo was pretty self-explantory. :)

The legroom.... not quite the same as we experienced with IcelandAir either.... it's a much much smaller plane. If there had been anyone in the seat in front of Neil, they would not have been able to recline their seat.

Visby is a delightful town to the senses - it really gives off a laid back beach front slow moving relaxed vibe - at least in the summer, at least inside the walls. The town wall was likely begun in the 12th century. It was rebuilt to it's current height in 1280, and finished sometime in the beginning of the 14th century, although some towers were added in the 15th century. See the Wikipedia entry here for more information.

This is the laconic waterfront.... note the entire lack of a fence on the boardwalk.

The whole town has these interesting sculpture/seats scattered around - some are adult sheep and some are lambs. Snorri and I visited.

Dinner was on another outdoor patio at a nearby hotel. Snorri and I were very very relaxed - I've got a sangria on the go, a blanket on my lap, sunshine, a good book and Neil's company. What more do I need?

Today, we got on a bus and headed to Farosound, at the top of the island. Our fieldschool residence is here, and the site we are digging is about 30km away. Tomorrow - school starts!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Living Gastronomically, and the "Viking" day tour

Three folks have commented on the food so far. Trust me, it won't be so exciting once we're established at the field school in another day. I expect it will be pretty standardized student food but I will endeavor to make it *look* exciting once in awhile.

I took pictures of last night's dinner but first let me tell you about the day itself. 8 hours in a mini-bus with the overly talkative driver on a "Viking" day tour. Right off the top, we had this inkling of trouble when he decided to use the "new" definition of the Viking Age as 400 - 1300 AD instead of the more traditional 793 - 1066 definition that we're used to using. He was straightforward about it, right up front. Apparently this means one can include a lot of gothic churches in the tour.

To be fair, there was an awful lot of interesting things to see and he had some interesting theories on the Viking Age to share, but the fellow just wouldn't shut up long enough for interaction or reflection or the chance to absorb through other means. Neil and I are both readers and like the chance to read the signs at places too.

Stops included (thefted from Neil's notes):
- Jarlabankes Bro (old viking bridge) - two runestones, some other stones
- Arkils Tingplats - local thing site, and another runestone
- Church at Vallentuna
- Granby
- Lunda (from bus - no place to park)
- Sigtuna (lunch)
- Gamla (old) Uppsala - mounds from the 500-600 with the Uppsala museum.  Lots of fun things to get photos of, and beads in the gift shop - not enough time here, but on our way out we did notice that the kind folks at the museum hadn't bothered to enforce the "no pictures" they have posted - we are grateful
- Uppsala - the Uppsala Catheral - construction began in 1287 with a focal point about King Gustav I

This is the runestone at Jarlabanke Bro.

And in Sigtuna, where we stopped for lunch, we saw this interesting use of a faering. We thought some of the parents in our friends might enjoy the idea. It's a sandbox.

Now.... dinner at Pontus by the Sea in old Stockholm.  Although the site in general is all in Swedish, here's a link to the english menu. It is a lovely restaurant, quite literally on the sea-side in Stockholm. We watched boats come in, people of all sorts walking by on the boardwalk, observed the weather and skyline of the city.... and ate delicious food.

Here's Neil getting drifty with the scenery.

My food - char with lemon foam and dill pesto.

Neil's choice - cod with shrimp and butter (again with the butter!).

And my dessert - fresh strawberries are a big thing at Midsummers in Sweden. Neil had a creme  brulee.

Today we leave for Gotland - we'll have one night in Visby before we report to the school on Monday. Work starts on the Tuesday.

By the by, I have neglected to mention the window dressings at the Hotel Rival. They have what amounts to blackout cloth! As I've mentioned the northern climes are no fun for the light sensitive sleeper, but this is not a problem at the Rival :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

On the Road - Iceland and Stockholm

Random bits from the travels thus far..

I was up at 4:30am Iceland time this morning to catch an 8something am flight to Stockholm and really since my body had only just barely adjusted to Iceland time itself, I may not be entirely coherent tonight.

The things you can find on the internet is rather amusing. Alda, from the former Iceland Weather Report has moved to Facebook with a fan page for IWR, and she recently posted a pic of the IcelandAir plane with the Eyjafjallajökull name on it. Apparently, IcelandAir recently renamed all of it's planes with the names of volcanoes in Iceland. Planespotters.net has a list of all the planes thus far - we flew from Canada in Hengill, and over to Stockholm in Askja. Neither have erupted in a very long time so we're probably not gonna have any problems.

Yes, I'm tired. I did mention that. Strange things are important when you're tired. :)

So.... starting the trip in Canada then. (I knew the chronological approach would catch up with me eventually.) Spent the day packing and cleaning house, left the doggie and got on an Airways Transit van, had dinner at the airport (lobster soup and a greek chicken salad for me, lobster soup and a burger for Neil - Anti-V likes to follow the food). Got on the plane - Hengill, mentioned above. Attempted to sleep - it might have worked in brief moments at a time - 4 hours had passed before I felt compelled to check the time.

Didn't feel too badly throughout the day (this part of the trip usually just kills the first day for me) so we wandered around quite a bit. Vikingaheimer again - some changes there but nothing big. It needs some more ... depth. The presentation is awfully light on information. But the addition of a sail, and the animals out front were amusing.

Snorri tried to get on the boat again.

Went into Reykjavik for a bit and found the ever delightful Icelandic Fish and Chips - the service is a bit slow, but the food is just so darned good. We split an order of wolf fish and handmade garlic potato fries, with homemade sodas - lemon mango for me, and pomegranite for himself. Wandered around a bit on the way back to the car, and missed the parking meter just long enough for the parking police to issue a ticket. : (

Off to the National Museum to see if newer cameras would get better results with the really low lighting in the museum. Some improvement.... but heck, what's with the low lights anyway? Okay, I get it on the textiles, but seriously... beads and metalwork aren't going to be harmed by too much light.


I think the new cameras made a difference - wouldn't you say so, Rob?

Dinner at the hotel - Northern Light Inn. Neil had catfish in butter *shudder* with shrimps. Butter just isn't a 'sauce' in my books - drowning anything in it is just..... wrong. Yes, I do love lobster, but I will never ever order it in this all too common form.  I had the lamb with wild mushroom sauce. The sauce was served seperately, and several long minutes after the lamb. Very odd. I'd actually forgotten about it when it arrived. We skipped dessert in favour of skyr back in the room.

Crashed pretty shortly thereafterwards.... having been effectively up for two days without real sleep. Had to put my night shirt over my head to block out the sun. The Icelandic hotels that I've been exposed so far don't seem to believe in blackout cloth and this really is the wrong time of year in Iceland for light sensitive sleepers.

Up at the crack of stupid, returned the car, bought some more skyr for the travelling, and off to the airport. I haven't mentioned yet but we somehow have managed to be upgraded to Saga class (1st, or business class) when we bought Economy Comfort (a middle state with slightly bigger seats but no perks). Let me say, the perks in the Saga class are fun! Comfortable lounge pre-boarding with free food and wireless, no lineups, pre-boarding (in Toronto only), gadget giveaways on the plane, free food on the plane and oodles of leg room.

Off the plane in Stockholm, adjust the clocks again (only two hours this time) and we're off to the Hotel Rival (pronounced Ree-val). The concierge here writes a blog called The Stockholm Tourist which is very helpful - that blog and TripAdvisor's ratings and comments are largely the reason we chose the hotel. The fact that Benny Andersson of Abba is one of the owners is just an amusing coincidence. Really. I found out that tidbit after we'd decided on it. Of course, it did explain all the Abba related comments on TripAdvisor. There are Abba cds in every room, should you choose to become assimulated.

And teddy bears. There are teddy bears in every room. If there's a connection between Abba and teddy bears, I'm not aware of it. But he's darned cute.


Wandered around Stockholm for a few hours before dinner - most of the small crafty tourist shops in the Old Town are open, even on Midsummer's Eve, and there are tons of them. This painting, in a store here, of old town captures it better I managed!

Stockholm is a city spread over 14 different islands. This is just one of the riverways that seperates it.


Some parts are very industrialized, like most cities, and some parts are still old and beautiful.

Dinner at the Rival Bistro - a delicious shellfish casserole for both of us. I had a lemon creme brulee with fruit, and Neil had a raspberry souffle with licorce sorbet.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Adventure - the schedule arrives

I haven't mentioned this before on the blog, but certainly in Facebook.... we've been a little frustrated by the lack of communication from the school with information about this field school thing we're about to embark on. So today... we're packing, going to get on the plane for Iceland tonight.... and at the very last minute the schedule arrives. :)

 It's a good thing we have email access all the way along.

Anyhoo... here's the schedule for your follow along entertainment. Subject to changes due to weather and exciting finds. I do hope to be able to blog about it as we go but we'll have to see how a program designed for the average archaeologist (aka crazy people) and 20 year olds sits with this 40something person.

It's my birthday today, by the way.

Archaeological Field school 2011

Tue. 28/6 09.00-12.00 Roll call, grouping. Practical questions. Introduction to Slite. Info from
Alanna Scott
13-16.30 Field work. Find sorting.

Wen. 29/6 09-16.30 Field work. Survey about osteology, Astrid Lennblad
19-21 Lecture by PhD Christoph Kilger. Viking Age treasures and female

Thu 30/7 09-16.30 Field work

Fri. 1/7 09-16.30 Field work

Sat. 2/7 09-16.30 Field work. Summarise the week at Slite.

Sun. 3/7 09-17 Excursion with visit to the historical museum

Mon. 4/7 09-16.30 Field work
19-21 Lecture by PhD student Gunilla Runesson, Bronze Age on Gotland.

Tue. 5/7 09-16.30 Field work

Wed. 6/7 09-16.30 Field work
19-21 Lecture by MA Johan Norderäng. Västergarn-new excavations

Thu. 7/7 09-16.30 Field work. Summarise the week at Slite.

Fri. 8/7 09-16.30 Field work (3 and 4 weeks). Excavation, review, completion (2 weeks).

Mon 11/7 09-16.30 Field work (4 weeks). Introduction 2 weeks, see schedule for Tuesday

Tue 12/7 09-16.30 Field work. Survey about osteology, in groups.

Wed 13/7 09-16.30 Field work
19-21 Lecture by PhD student Joakim Wehlin. Baltic stone ships

Thu 14/7 09-16.30 Field work
19-21 Lecture. PhD students. Gustaf Svedjemo. Iron Age landscape on

Fri 15/7 09-16.30 Field work 2 and 4 weeks. Review of the results, interpretation, and
completion for the 3 weeks group. Summarise the week.

Sat 16/7 09-17 Excursion with a visit to the historical museum

Mon 18/7 09-16.30 Field work
19-21 Lecture. Will be decided later

Tue 19/7 09-16.30 Field work
19-21 Lecture by Associate Professor Dan Carlsson. The Eastern
Connection. Scandinavia and Russia.

Wed 20/7 09-16.30 Field work

Thu 21/7 09-16.30 Field work
19-21 Preliminary results, find analysis, bone analysis. Dan Carlsson, Anna
Pettersson, Astrid Lennblad

Fri 22/7 09-16.30 Field work, Review of the results, interpretation, completion for the 2
and 4 weeks groups.