On July 2nd, I left Copenhagen to go to Bornholm, an island in the very east of Denmark, for three weeks. As a part of my education, I was working at archaeological excavations for four whole weeks this summer, which would count as an exam.
The first week was spent at Højagergaard 4 in Høje Taastrup, which I wrote about in an earlier post.
The following three weeks were spent at Vasagård, an exciting Neolithic location in the south of Bornholm.
The excavation site is situated close to Åkirkeby, the third largest town on Bornholm with a population of just over 2000 people. The main sight in the village is its distinctive church from the middle of the 12th century, Aa Church. The four of us stayed at Åkirkeby Camping for the three weeks and biked to and from work.
The excavations of Vasagård have been ongoing since the site was discovered in 1988.
The area is intersected by a stream and it was the east side of the stream that was found first. The west side was found by aerial photos in 1992. The area is a gathering site from the Neolithic, where causewayed enclosures (Sarupanlæg), palisades and round buildings thought to be sun temples have been found.
The causewayed enclosures originate from the second part of the early Neolithic (3,500-3,300 BC) and consist of long rows of system graves. They have assumably served as ritual gathering places where the Neolithic people have met and held ritual ceremonies. Finds of some human bones could indicate that the system graves were used when the dead had to skeletonize before being placed in the megalithic graves.
The palisades are later gathering places, which were used from 2,900-2,800 BC, in the middle of the Neolithic. During this period, the causewayed enclosures were also reused.
At Vasagård, many round buildings have been found with 6-10 postholes. The round structures are interpreted by some as sun temples.
On the west side of Vasagård, as well as at the nearby site of Rispebjerg, many of the famous sun stones have been found. These are unique for Bornholm. They are pieces of slate with different motifs such as the sun, grains and spider webs.
During our three weeks at Vasagård, we found many exciting things, including 27 sun stones, fragments of flint axes, amber, animal bones, ceramics and Denmark’s oldest petroglyph stone! Because of this extraordinary find, we were interviewed for newspapers and TV four times! It was exciting to be part of such a great discovery that has changed prehistory for good.
In those three weeks, we learned a lot about which methods to use when digging out a palisade and when searching for sun stones in single context. We learned how to level, how to document the structures and how to spot the right things on even the smallest objects. For four weeks, I was working as an archaeologist, and I loved it! I’m already excited to get digging again someday!
As you’ve probably noticed here on the blog, I spent much of my free time biking around Bornholm in order to see absolute everything! I got to see and explore Hammershus, the four round churches, Rønne, Svaneke, Nexø, Gudhjem, the beaches at Duodde and Balka, the hidden gems in Almindingen, and the islands of Christiansø and Frederiksø. I also tried the cableway at Opalsøen! You can read all about my adventures on Bornholm here!
This post sums up my time on Bornholm, but don’t worry, there are many more posts to come! In a few minutes, I’m leaving for a small trip to Amsterdam and Luxembourg, and in nine days, Amanda and I are off on our solar eclipse tour to USA!