What is Experimental Archaeology?; The Dumfriesshire Viking Hoard; Birka, Sweden.

What Is Experimental Archaeology? 

Experimental archaeology is where an artefact, building, process or system from the past is reproduced to help us better understand how things were created by past cultures.

Reconstructing a Viking Building © Ökologix
Reconstructing a Viking Building
© Ökologix

All experiments are undertaken in a very controlled environment with a systematic and controlled method of interpretation that tests hypothesis.

Sweet Track Replica, Somerset ©Geof Sheppard
Sweet Track Replica, Somerset
©Geof Sheppard

Experimental archaeology includes, but is not limited to, stone tools such as flints, axes and choppers, stone tools wear analysis, ocean crafts and rafts, the growing and production of prehistoric crops and foods, the construction and also the burning of buildings from the past to see what would remain in the archaeological record, wooden trackways as in the photo above, Iron Age houses, viking houses etc.

Experimental archaeology is fun, but it also has a very serious side to it. Helping us understand past people, the processes they went through with the material and tools that they had, and the sense of community and working together in teams.

Universities now offer courses in Experimental Archaeology – make sure you check out the Experimental Archaeology Resource Page below in Great Web Pages, to find out more!!


  •  Reconstructing a Viking Building – © Ökologix (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Sweet Track Replica, Somerset – ©Geof Sheppard (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons



Archaeology Wow!! – The Dumfriesshire Viking Hoard.

Only recently discovered in September, this hoard is making headlines around the world!!

Excavating the Hoard ©The Guardian
Excavating the Hoard
©The Guardian

Retired businessman Derek McLennan was metal detecting on Church land, with permission of the owners, when he came across what he beleived to be a spoon. Rubbing away some of the dirt he found a Viking inscription and continued to dig at the spot.

Carolinian Silver Alloy Vessel ©The Guardian
Carolinian Silver Alloy Vessel
©The Guardian

He uncovered over 100 items including an extremely rare Carolinian silver alloy vessel currently believed to be up to 1,200 years old, gold jewelry, silver, brooches, armbands and silver ingots. The hoard has been dated to the 9th-10th centuries.

Early Cross ©The Guardian
Early Cross
©The Guardian

Another piece which has really excited everyone is one of the earliest crosses ever found, and beleived to bear the pictures of Saints. The whole hoard is of great importance and significance in the history of Scotland.

Gold Bird Pin ©http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/
Gold Bird Pin

The hoard is currently being cleaned and studied so keep an eye out for updates on this wonderful new find from Scotland!!

Here is a video showing the hoard!!


  • Excavating the Hoard – ©The Guardian.
  • Carolinian Silver Alloy Vessel – ©The Guardian.
  • Early Cross – ©The Guardian.
  • Gold Bird Pin – ©http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/
  • Video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e4tAqmAWCA


Archaeological Site Guide – Birka, Sweden

Birka is a unique and amazing site just west of Stockholm in Sweden. It covers just over 7 hectares (17 acres) and was a Viking capital centre and trading centre with links directly to the Byzantine Empire.

Birka Boat ©By Holger.Ellgaard
Birka Boat
©By Holger.Ellgaard

The site dates from its foundation in the 8th century and continued until the 10th century. It was home to around 700 people who lived in wooden buildings and traded. It is the site of the first congregation of Christians in Sweden founded c. 831 by a German monk called Saint Ansgar.

Reconstruction of Viking Houses ©By Holger.Ellgaard
Reconstruction of Viking Houses
©By Holger.Ellgaard

The town was of great importance and visited by many of Sweden’s kings, including King Björn, King Anund, and King Olof. In the 13th century a brick built palace was erected in the town, and its remains can still be seen today. At the palace a council was held in 1279 which gave rise to the Swedish feudal system.

Birka Excavations 1991 ©By Holger.Ellgaard
Birka Excavations 1991
©By Holger.Ellgaard

The site was first excavated by Johan Hadarph in the 17th century, and then later excavated by Hjalmar Stolpe in the 19th century. Excavations during 1990-1995 uncovered 3,000 graves  and found that the hillfort next to it was used as a place of refuge in times of danger, like when the Danes attacked.

The site has its own museum and regular transport running from Stockholm. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List due to its importance in the history of Sweden.


  • UNESCO World Heritage List – http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/555.
  • Birka Excavations 1991 – ©By Holger.Ellgaard (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Reconstruction of Viking Houses – ©By Holger.Ellgaard (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Birka Boat – ©By Holger.Ellgaard (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Great Books to Read…….


Great Web Pages to Look At…….


Activity –    Word Search 14 November 2014

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: