Excavation Report from Skällvik Castle 2016


Skällvik Castle, drone photo from the north-east with our trenches A-G indicated. By team member Jan Ainali.

Two years ago myself and Ethan Aines headed the first professional excavation at Skällvik Castle, a 14th century stronghold. It’s near Söderköping, across the water from Stegeborg Castle, and may be seen as a fossil of an itinerant castle that sat on Stegeborg’s islet before and after the period 1330-1360. Skällvik Castle was at various times owned by the See of Linköping and the Swedish Crown, and was at least used by the provincial Lawspeaker as well.

Some of our main results were these.

  • The written sources document activity at the castle in 1330-50. The coins we found extend that use period at least four more years to 1354. In 1356 there was a civil war and the nearby vicarage is known to have been attacked. This is a likely end date for the castle.
  • We identified the castle guards’ day room, warmed by the bakery oven, where finds show that the guards spent their off-time fletching crossbow bolts and gambling with dice for money.
  • We found a noblewoman’s seal matrix, dropped into the sea off the castle’s dock. Her full name and identity are unknown, but historians have helped us identify two men known from the written record who may be her father and her husband. There was still sealing wax stuck to the matrix under the verdigris.

Get the report from Archive.org!


8 thoughts on “Excavation Report from Skällvik Castle 2016

  1. Martin, is there a guide to submitting a book or article for archiving on archive.org? I know some ancient historians who store publications there, it might be a good alternative to private websites/institutional repositories/fly-by-night startups with aggressive terms of use.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never did get ‘hiker’s poles’. What are they for? I carry a collapsible hiker’s pole with a nice pointy end on it when I’m out hiking, but that’s purely for defence against packs of feral dogs – there’s a rubber stopper that goes over the pointy end, but I take that off. I don’t actually use it for anything during the process of walking, just carry it. My daughter, who is an avid hiker who regularly ventures out on some of the wilder trails, does the same, for the same reason. HK has rabies, and a major problem with feral dog packs.

    There’s talk of banning hiker’s poles on some of the hiking trails because they cause too much ‘damage’ to the trails, but I can’t see how that happens. But people are getting very serious about it, so I guess they must be a problem.

    I sort of understand poles that people use when they do cross-country skiing, although I have never done it myself. But that seems like a whole different thing.


    • In steep and slippery areas like the Nordkette, a steel-shod walking stick at least 2/3 your height is essential! Going up is not so bad, but going down you really need the third leg.


    • Apart from being a “third leg” the staff is to protect you from wolves, trolls, orcs and loonies who challenge you to quarterstaff duels in the middle of log bridges. The people I know who like wandering around in the bush seem to find a GPS phone more useful though.

      Liked by 1 person

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