Image From Nordjyllands Historiske Museum
Topic: Iron Age village
During evaluation of land prior to the construction of a new hospital in Aalborg, Northern Denmark, archaeologists uncovered an Iron Age village dating back around 2000 years. The settlement differs from other sites of this period because of its well preserved condition, including a number of houses complete with fireplaces, chalk floors and cobbled paving.
The village covers an area of approximately 4 ha., and excavation has so far located about 40 houses. However, this number is expected to increase greatly during full excavation, but initial reports show they are not all contemporary, and represent repeated reconstruction and rebuild over hundreds of years.
Usually, only traces of the postholes are left to understand the layout of a house, but the village had been covered over with a thick layer of soil, that had protected it after abandonment. Several of the houses had floors created out of chalk for the living area, while other parts of the buildings appeared to be used as stabling for animals. Preliminary studies show bones found were mainly from the butchering of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, but the inhabitants supplemented their diet with fish from the nearby fjord.
In addition to discovering the core of the settlement, archaeologists also found traces of the quarry pits south of the village, where chalk was excavated for the house floors. Traces of cultivation was also noted in the form of ard marks (plough) and this could shed light on aspects of the village economy and agricultural production.
Early example of a cat
A surprise discovery was the skeletal remains of a cat – which has caused some excitement – as this domestic variety was first introduced to Denmark from the Roman Empire during the Iron Age – making this a very early example. Previously, the earliest known domestic cat came from a cremation grave in Kastrup, Jutland dating to c. AD 200.
The osteological finds have supplied a potential area of further work as the team uncovered a greater than expected quantity of horse bones. Horses were usually seen as a sign of wealth during this period, and the number of remains opens up questions concerning status.
Larger cultural landscape
The village forms part of a larger cultural landscape in southeastern Aalborg around the village of Sonder Tranders where there is evidence of many other settlements and burial sites.
The area at South Tranders is also rich in metal finds from the Viking and Middle Ages that have been discovered by detectorists.
The results of this investigation can now be combined to further develop understanding of the Iron Age from a south Scandinavian perspective.
The archaeologists from the North Jutland Historical Museum have so far evaluated 58 ha., of which 54 ha. has already been released to the construction of the hospital. They are currently waiting to see how large an area of the village will be affected before deciding how much more work can be undertaken.
Source: Nordjyllands Historiske Museum
Jan 17, 2014