Fieldwork in Hov and Vretakloster

Polyhedrical weight. 9/10th century. Photograph Tobias Bondesson.

(Martin here, posting from the hostel of Norsholm on the Göta canal, using my handheld and the cell phone network. To get the post on-line, my dear scibling Janet has kindly agreed to act as go-between.)

Coin struck for Heinrich II, King of Germany. Mainz 1002-1014. Dbg 785. Photograph Tobias Bondesson.

This is the third April in as many years that I’m reporting from a week of fieldwork in Östergötland with my metal detector buddies. I intend this to be the final expedition before I complete my book about late-1st Millennium aristocratic manors.

Coin struck for Dietrich II or III, Counts of Katlenburg. Gittelde 1056-1106. Dbg 690. The bird-like thing on the reverse is actually a cathedral. Photograph Tobias Bondesson.

Like last year I began my trip here nervously, driving from Fisksätra through late-coming snow on summer tyres. But I made it fine to Hov parish on Lake TÃ¥kern, where I met the guys and no snow was to be seen. Our site in Hov has a lot of elite indications from around AD 1100, and I was gambling on finding a previously unknown aristocratic prehistory too. (My project halts at AD 1000.) We did 20 man-hours of detecting, and though I can’t really say the gamble paid off, we did find some very fine 11th-12th century stuff that may extend into the 10th as well.

Frag of an Urnes-style brooch. C. 1100. Photograph Tobias Bondesson.

We have a perfectly preserved polyhedrical weight of 9/10th century date, and a flat-poled double-conical one, both of the tiny type used to weigh silver on a balance. We have two 11th-12th century silver coins: one a German Otto-Adelheid penny and the other a really weird one that may be Polish or Hungarian if new crew member Tobias’s hunch is right. We have a fragment of a Urnes-style silver brooch from c. 1100. These things, widely scattered, suggest an 11th century market site.

Pewter cross. 15th-16th century. 13th-14th century? Photograph Tobias Bondesson.

From the 13th and 14th centuries we have a dress spangle (Sw. ströning), a little strap buckle and a funny pewter cross.

Coin struck for Ernst August the Elder, Duke of Hanover, Prince-Bishop of Osnabrück, etc. etc. German. 17th century. Photograph Tobias Bondesson.

After wrapping up in Hov we went to a location in Vretakloster parish which has been suggested as a cargo transfer site for river traffic in my period of study. 11 man-hours there did not turn up any evidence to support that idea, but we did pick up a few fun bits. We have another High Medieval strap buckle, a 17th century Dutch (?) German silver coin bearing the legend “[la]bora.qvae.honesta…” and a piece of something that looks like a Viking Period copper-alloy disc brooch.

Frag of Viking Period disc brooch? Photograph Tobias Bondesson.

All in all a fruitful day’s work, and a lot of fun despite inclement weather.

Photograph Tobias Bondesson.

Update 13 April: Explains expedition member Tobias Bondesson, regarding the 17th century silver coin: “The ‘Dutch’ one is actually German and minted by Ernst August the Elder, i.a. Prince-Bishop of Osnabrück, and Duke of Hanover. His family motto was SOLA BONA QUAE HONESTA (roughly HONESTY ABOVE ALL). Haven’t found an exact match for the coin yet … I believe the denomination is 4 Mariengroschen.” The coin bears the coat of arms of Osnabrück, featuring a wheel. Swedish emissaries had signed the Peace of Westphalia in that city in 1648.

Update 24 April: Professor Jörn Staecker tells me that the pewter cross is certainly not 11th-13th century, but probably 15th-16th century. He mentions grave slabs in the churches of Gotland that show similar motifs.

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8 thoughts on “Fieldwork in Hov and Vretakloster

  1. The “dutch” one is actually german and minted by Ernst August the Elder, i.a. Prince bishop of Osnabräck, and Duke of Hanover. His family motto was SOLA BONA QUAE HONESTA (roughly HONESTY ABOVE ALL). Haven’t found an exact match for the coin yet, though.


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