TEA Photo Contest: “Out of the comfort zone: Fieldwork in perspective”
Being uncomfortable with moving heights, the investigation of a Bronze Age barrow threatened by erosion, definitely brought me out of my comfort zone.
The round barrow is situated in the beautiful countryside on the east coast of Northeast Funen (Hindsholm), Denmark. Hovering on a brink 12 meters above sea level it is highly exposed to erosion caused by wind, rain and sea – and even more so in the future because of climate changes. The remaining parts of the monument will presumably disappear into the sea before the end of this century.
In 2015 pieces of a bronze sword was found on the beach below the barrow. This instigated a more thorough investigation and registration of the monument in 2016. The investigation was financially supported by the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces as part of their focus on the increasing number of scheduled sites and monuments threatened by erosion. Because the barrow was scheduled we decided not to excavate and thereby destroy the remaining part, as it still holds a prominent and very visible position in the surrounding agricultural and coastal landscape. Instead we took advantage of the possibilities the erosion had left us. By 2016 approximately half of the barrow had disappeared in to the sea, and this in fact created a natural profile right through the center of it. Based on the results from recent excavations of a large bronze age barrow showing complex building sequences (The Skelhøj Project) our aim was to establish, how this more regular sized barrow of 20-22 meters in diameter was constructed, and to recreate the Bronze Age landscape using pollen and macrofossil analyses.
The picture shows me in the limited space of the lift basket, cleaning the barrow profile. I prefer being on firm ground, so the trip up in the lift, as well as the cleaning task, making the lift move up and down 12 to 16 meters above ground, was definitely challenging. We cleaned the profile in two meter broad sections and made photogrammetric registration before moving the lift repeatedly. This enabled us to register the entire barrow profile, showing at least three burial phases and demonstrating the use of wet turfs and turfs from areas that had already been de-turfed once. Leaving the comfort zone brought new perspectives on bronze age barrow construction – but please don’t ask me to go up there again!