Few Swedish caves contain any known archaeology, and those that do mainly feature Mesolithic and Neolithic habitation layers. The Pukberget (“Devil’s Mountain”) cave near EnkÃ¶ping is a rare exception. In the mid-20th century a fox hunter crawled into the cave and felt his way around. His questing hands encountered something on a ledge which he put in his coat pocket. When he came out into the open air, he saw that he’d found a bronze spearhead and a horse tooth. Both are now in the Museum of National Antiquities. The spearhead dates from the Late Bronze Age, about 700 BC.
I’ve spent the past three days at Pukberget in a joint bid with the Stockholm County Museum to find further archaeology there. With my hard-working colleagues Magdalena Forsgren and Margareta Boije, I dragged a lot of equipment up the hill and into the cave, which is a beautiful maze of cracks between huge gneiss blocks formed when the hill shattered in some ancient post-glacial earthquake. We opened two square-meter pits in the floor layer, dug them down to rock (c. 35 cm) and screened the layers in lamplight. Sadly we found no sign of any human presence beneath the late-20th century hiker’s fireplaces with their tea-candle cups, broken bottles and pieces of smashed flashlights. Instead there was just a layer of clean beige sediment deposited before the ceiling rock started to flake. A half-metre square in the toss zone below the fine overhang outside one of the cave entrances proved similarly unenlightening. It was fun and exotic to dig in a cave, though.
As my fieldwork habits go, 2011 has been a good year from a variety perspective, with work at six different sites within one project. My luck has not been great though: hardly any relevant finds at all. This is not unexpected since I’m playing a much higher-risk game this time around. You can’t miss the 1st millennium graves I wrote my thesis about. The coeval settlements that I’ve worked with in recent years are also pretty easy to pick up. Not so with the sacrificial sites of the Bronze Age.