| 5 December 2017
Prehistoric graves discovered in Norway
Archaeologists from Norwegian University of Science and Technology have unearthed Bronze Age graves ahead of planned road construction at Sandbrauta in Melhus municipality (Norway). "We don't often make a find like this," says Project Manager Merete Moe Henriksen.
Three smaller stone chambers typical of the period lie to the side of a larger stone ring. The stone ring is part of a burial mound that contains numerous graves. Local conditions have preserved the site remarkably well. Up to two metres of clay from a landslide covered the area: this mass of earth provides traces of a mudslide that may have taken place already in prehistoric times, perhaps just after people were laid in the graves. The clay settled like a lid over the graves, sealing the site and keeping it in good conditions.
According to the museum, the find represents an invaluable source of knowledge of the Bronze Age's burial traditions in central Norway. "We found charcoal and burned bones in the graves," says project manager Henriksen.
Archaeologists have known that there could be exciting discoveries here since 2014, when they conducted a pre-roadwork investigation with the county's cultural heritage council. They found signs of human activity from earlier times.
Museum Director Reidar Andersen hopes that some of the discoveries from the site will be exhibited at a later date. He believes the potential is great for an exhibit; however, the area will become inexorably changed with the planned roadwork. In any case, the survey area is being mapped using photogrammetry, so that the archaeologists end up with a detailed three-dimensional map.
Close to the big burial mound, the museum found part of a rock slab with indented figures, shaped like bowl depressions and a foot. These are motifs that have been found on other rock carvings from this time, but the foot figure is distinct because, unlike most others, it is portrayed with toes rather than as a foot with a shoe on. The archaeologists believe that the slab may have been part of a burial chamber in the mound.
So far, no findings have been made that would confirm the presence of a settlement at the site. Postholes could indicate this, but might also have been part of a structure connected to the graveyard.
A casting mould for bronze axe heads was found on the same site. The mould might have been deposited as grave goods, but might also show that casting of bronze objects took place in the region. Both the carvings on the rock and on the mould suggest that the gravesite was probably used in the Late Nordic Bronze Age, between 1100 and 500 BCE.
Edited from Gemini Research News (4 December 2017)
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