The platform mound at Aska in Hagebyhöga is a 3 metres high raised foundation for an almost 50 metres long mead-hall. Think King Hrodgar’s hall Heorot. Think King Théoden’s hall Meduseld (= mead-hall = Sw. mjöd-sal).
Ragnhild Fernholm and Carin Claréus test trenched the mound in 1985-86 and found an articulated rear leg of a horse under it, with a radiocarbon date most probably in the AD 700s. Andreas Viberg and I surveyed the top platform with ground-penetrating radar in 2013, and Andreas swiftly mapped every posthole in the structure. In the past week my crew of 15 hard-working people, mostly students from my old department at U Stockholm, has opened a 100 sqm trench across the central room in the mead-hall. Here are some highlights.
- There is no thick stratigraphy on top of the hall foundation. The uppermost packing stones of the postholes are only 10-25 cm below the turf.
- Everything we have found in the topsoil may date from after AD 1800. The only exception is a single 1630s fyrk coin. The many pre-WW1 coins tally well with information given by old people in the 1980s, that there had once been annual mid-summer celebrations on the mound.
- After the hall was torn down, a layer of smallish stones was laid down over its indoors. Feel free to interpret this in a symbolic and/or practical way.
- Thanks to the simple stratigraphy, we will be able to open up the full 200 sqm that our permit allows.
- I look forward to sectioning and soil-sampling the central hearth, a few of the great roof-bearing postholes and the wall trenches.
- It is liberating not to have to excavate every sunken feature like you do on a highway dig where the site will be bulldozed when you’re done.
- I love geophys, skilled metal detectorists and drone photography!