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The Borgund Kaupang Project

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Skosåle med baktil spiss
December 2019. One of the objects from Borgund we sampled for C14-dating. It looks like a sole of a Viking Age type, but we would like to know how old it actually is.
Photo:
Therese Nesset, Universitetsmuseet i Bergen
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The BKP-team at Borgund
November 2019. The Borgund Kaupang Team at the KickOff-workshop at Borgund!
Photo:
Gitte Hansen
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Et mulig jartegn fra Borgund
September 2019: The Borgund Kaupang Project's new logo is based on this find
Photo:
Adnan Icagic
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Borgund release
August 2019. The Borgund Kaupang Project had a local release party in Bergen at the Historical Museum, University Museum of Bergen (UMiB). Gitte Hansen presented the project and head of dep. of Cultural History, UMiB, Asbjørn Engevik congratulated Gitte with flowers.
Photo:
Adnan Icagic © Universitetsmuseet i Bergen
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Gitte and Heidi visiting Borgund
December 2018. The Borgund Kaupang Project receives news of support from the Research Council of Norway. Gitte and Heidi at the Borgund site, interviewed by Sunnmørsposten
Photo:
Universitetsmuseet i Bergen
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Gitte on the radio, NRK P1
December 2018. The Borgund Kaupang Project receives news of support from the Research Council of Norway. Live interview on local radio! Gitte on NRK P1 Møre & Romsdal in Bergen studio.
Photo:
Universitetsmuseet i Bergen
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Marta, Michele and Monika discuss textiles from Borgund
May 2018. Marta, Michèle and Monika discuss textiles from Borgund
Photo:
Gitte Hansen
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A December greeting from the Borgund Kaupang Project

Some very busy weeks have passed since the Borgund Kaupang Project’s KickOff-workshop at Borgund. Here is a short update on our progress.

An important part of the first phase of the Borgund Kaupang Project is the scientific curation of the finds and the documentation from the Borgund excavations. The aim is to establish a research platform for the archaeological primary data. One of the main tasks is to date the site through different archaeological and natural scientific methods. Gitte has been working with the complete set of raw data from the excavations. This consists of reports from 20 field seasons, field diaries, over thousand plan drawings, and context information on the ca. 90.000 archaeological and osteological finds. Based on the complete set of data Gitte has established a first version of a matrix that shows us where we lack finds that can be dated through archaeological typological methods, and thus where we need to get samples for C14-dating. We have taken 63 samples for C14-dating from different organic materials (mainly leather and textiles of wool, but also some wood). We finished sampling the day before the Christmas holiday! This will be our first ‘batch’ of samples – and more will be sent in the beginning of 2020. 

På jakt etter daterbart organisk materiale fra Borgund

In our search throughout the Medieval Collections at the University Museum of Bergen, we sometimes find boxes and bags with numbers that seems familiar. In this case, we found some boxes that turned out to be a lot of different material collected from a possible waste pit excavated at "Nordre felt" at Borgund. Here we are looking through the contents of one of the bags in the boxes, looking for potential material to sample for C14-dating.

Photo:
Gitte Hansen

NTNU University Museum National laboratory for dating in Trondheim will analyze the samples. We are very happy for this collaboration, and very much look forward to the results!

Also, check out our Facebook-page for more pictures!

In addition, after the KickOff, Michèle and Alan visited the Medieval Collections at the University Museum of Bergen to study textiles, which also is a part of Michéle’s sub-study for the Borgund Kaupang Project.  

Merry Christmas from the Borgund Kaupang Project, and a happy new year! 

The BKP-kickoff at Borgund in Ålesund

The 20.-22.-November 2019 the Borgund Kaupang Project had a KickOff-worksop at Borgund in Ålesund. We have more info on this on our Norwegian pages, but also check out our Facebook-page 

The Borgund Kaupang Project has a logo!

One of the many interesting finds from the Borgund excavations is a triangle-shaped, flat object of soapstone with inscribed decorations and runes (see photo, top of this page). One side of the object show that it has been broken off from a larger unit. On another side is the rune inscription: “IONGAFHÆINNR…” “Jon gave (this object) Heinrek…”. The rest of the inscription is missing.

Based on the meaning of the inscription, and that the object originally was part of a larger unit, the object is interpreted as part of a “jartegn”-couple: an object that would prove that a message sent by a messenger was real and came from the named sender. If this were the case, the inscription would indicate that Heinrek, who probably was German, owned the stone. Jon was the sender, and probably owned the other part of the stone. Maybe the two of them were together in business. The stone is dated to the end of the 13th or 14th century.

The possible “jartegnet” has been chosen as a logo for the Borgund Kaupang Project. Trade and exchange of goods from near and far, and the interaction between people are some of the themes the research team of BKP will study. The physical remains from the people who visited or lived in the Borgund Kaupang are especially valuable when considering these themes. The possible “jartegn” is one of many objects from the Borgund collections that can increase our understanding of the medieval people’s lives and chores at Borgund Kaupangen.

Colleagues at the University Museum, Department of Culture, has helped making the logo: Ragnar Børsheim has designed the logo based on a photograph of the object taken by Adnan Icagic.

The Borgund Kaupang Project has officially started! 

The NFR-funded part of the Borgund Kaupang Project started 5th of August 2019, and will last throughout 2023. But even if the official start was in August, several studies in the Borgund Kaupang Project have been ongoing for a while.

Heidi Haugene is studying which types of leather were used for the shoes in Borgund during the Viking Age. Through a study of hair follicle patterns and by analyzing peptides (ZooMs) from small samples of leather it is possible to determine which animals were used to make leather items. Was the leather from domesticated animals, or did they also use leather from wild animals? How many types of leather would one encounter on one shoe? In 2018 the study of hair follicle patterns was finished and is now supplemented with the ZooMs-analysis. We are collaborating with the University of York, who will do the peptide-analysis. 

Heidi and the Borgund shoe

Heidi working on the Borgund shoes in the University Museum of Bergen's medieval collections

Photo:
Gitte Hansen

This spring Monika Ravnanger and Marta Kløve Juul experimented with different weaving techniques to establish which technique was used to produce the “varafell”-type, a type of pile woven cloth. In June, they initiated a collaborative project with Elisabeth Johnston from Shetland, UK who is an expert in ancient spinning technologies. Together they are trying to determine which method was used to make the yarn and pile behind the production of a specific type of varafeld- or pile weave.

Monika and Marta studying textiles

Monika and Marta studying textiles of the "varafell"-type in the University Museum of Bergen's medieval collections

Photo:
Gitte Hansen

Michèle Hayeur Smith has studied and classified the textiles from Borgund. Michèle found that there are more textiles in the Borgund corpus than we knew from the old catalogues. In June, we took samples for Strontium (Sr) isotope analysis, and for AMS (Accelerated Mass Spectrometry) dating from some of the textiles. Through Sr isotope analysis it is possible to determine the provenance of the wool the textile is made of. Department of Earth, Environmental, and planetary Sciences at Brown University is analyzing the Sr-samples in collaboration with the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University, and with the help of Brown University students. Preparation was carried out in a PicoTrace clean lab.

Michéle in the lab

Michèle at work at the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences at Brown University

Photo:
Michéle H. Smith

Sam Walker has finished his analysis on animal bones from Borgund and has found a range of different bird species. 

And.. in the near future, two PhD-candidates will be hired!

Read more about the different ongoing and upcoming projects, and research under Sub-studies in the menu!

From the 5th of August, the project manager Gitte Hansen and the scientific assistant Therese Nesset have been working on the development of the webpage for the Borgund Kaupang Project, and are organizing a Kick-off workshop for the research team in Ålesund in November. They are also systematizing and digitalizing field documentation and archaeological sources from the 20 years of excavation that took place at Borgund. This will provide the basis for research conducted during the next four to five years. With aid from the University Library at UiB, special collections, who has kindly lent us their A2-scanner, we have scanned field drawings and have begun geo-referencing these sources.

We are very happy the project has begun, and are looking forward to its continuation!