Finnestorp War Booty Sacrifice

A miniature face on a gilded cast copper-alloy display buckle, 5th century AD

One of the many things us Swedish archaeologists envy our Danish colleagues is their numerous large and well-preserved finds of Iron Age war booty. Clearly people in modern-day Denmark had the custom of sacrificing war booty in holy lakes, and when they silted up and became bogs the anaerobic environment preserved many objects perfectly. Generally, the finds seem to be the campaign gear of invading armies, dominated by weaponry but also including tools, personal items and even a number of boats.

Sweden does have a few of these sites, but for long the only one that had been excavated to any useful extent was Skedemosse on Öland where preservation was rather poor. In recent years, however, my Gothenburg colleage Bengt Nordqvist and the Historical Society of that city have done fieldwork at Finnestorp in Västergötland, uncovering rich and unusually late sacrificial deposits from the Migration Period. The metal detectorists involved also work with me in Östergötland where they have made a great many important discoveries.

The Finnestorp project‘s web site went live today, and so far it offers a 76-page illustrated overview of fieldwork and finds from 2000 to 2004, written in Swedish. I’m sure it will be worth taking a look at the site every few months for new developments.

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3 thoughts on “Finnestorp War Booty Sacrifice

  1. Very very interesting!!! I´ll go there to look. It is only one thing that is disturbing, it is a small picture, a man with beard. I think that the marks around the mouth is NOT a beard, it is tattoed dots. Looks like the Ainu womens tattoes above the mouth, by the way.
    I recommend a nice book “Decorated Skin, A world survey of body art” Karl Gröning. Thames & Hudson.


  2. I was there! Finnestorp will be just a fantastic place to visit. It has been a place where the victorious people drowned the remains of war slaughter, people, horses, things. There is heaps of war booty, things of gold and weapons, swords and horsetrappings. They must have been fighting on the european continent. Horses seem to be of frisian breed. 350-550 AD.
    It has been a holy place earlier too, for a long time.

    They will do something there for visitors, the discussions are going on now, so hold your eyes open for Finnestorp!!!


  3. Finnestorp. I just wish I would be able to visit it someday. I think they had somekind of workshop there or is going to have. A friend of mine said she was going to attend so I hope to get some news.
    Ah, Migration period, my favourite one.


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