Overall, the results point towards the existence of an elite settlement at the site, comparable to only a handful of places in the Baltic Sea region.
Outline of possible large Late Iron Age hall
The research project titled “The Hall at the Crossroads of Baltic Waterways” was initiated in 2012 and emanated from infra-red aerial photography depicting the fields north of the church of Saltvik where archaeologists observed a soil impression that bears very strong similarities with the outlines of large Late Iron Age hall structures known from Scandinavia.
Halls were buildings with special social importance for the region. There are similar hall buildings known throughout Scandinavia, such as in Gamla Uppsala, Sweden, but longhouses of comparable dimensions have been previously unknown both on the Åland Islands and on mainland Finland.
Several interesting finds
The project aims to discuss the nature of the settlement. As a first step, non-intrusive field surveys were conducted at the site and several interesting finds were collected from the area where the longhouse is believed to have been situated.
Among the unearthed objects, there are several different types of brooches from the late 6th century AD to the end of the Viking Age. One of the earliest finds recovered is a brooch shaped as a bird of prey. A well-preserved small oval brooch belongs to the same period.
The craftsmanship is characterised by rich ornamentation in different techniques and motifs – a Viking silver finger ring exhibits an intricate pattern of punched triangles, while the unearthed part of an equal armed brooch depicts the head of a human or an animal.
In addition to jewellery, an end socket made of bronze that has been sitting at the tip of a scabbard, a so-called sword chape, was found. This object has a direct parallel in an object found at Birka, where the better preserved specimen displays ornamentation in the shape of a human figure.
Further investigations are planned in the area in 2014.
Past Horizons. 2014. “The hall at the crossroads of Baltic waterways”. Past Horizons. Posted: May 14, 2014. Available online: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/05/2014/the-hall-at-the-crossroads-of-baltic-waterways