Norway – some archaeology in Østfold

When we were driving around Berg, we took a couple of detours to see a bit of the local archaeology. You’ll find the places we went on my map of Halden and Berg here.

At Sellebakk, just off the road between the major towns of Fredrikstad and Halden, lies Hunn Steinringfeltet, a complex of nine stone circles that date back to the Iron Age. The circles mark burials, usually cremations, that were placed under a large central stone with the circles built around them.

There are numerous other cairns and burials but also signs of a settlement with houses and fields. There was bronze working on site with evidence of ornaments and arrow heads being produced. This should be of no surprise as the processes of metalworking were considered magical at the time. It’s possible that as a master of fire, the smith had a leading role in the cremation. Some of the smithies were themselves buried and encircled with stone.

There are a couple of walks to do here if you have time (we didn’t). Nearby there is a whole field of burial mounds and some fortifications on Ravneberget hill to be seen. They are one of several sites on the Oldtidsruta, a driving route that takes in many other Bronze and Iron age culutral monuments along Highway 110 in Østfold.

On another day we visited the Solbergfeltet rock carvings which are just next to the road to Sarpsborg from Halden, after the Solberg junction. The petroglyphs date from the Bronze Age and are probably religious in nature. Besides boats and people they are said to show four wheeled wagons, a large and a small tree (unique gylphs in Norway), various gods and the sun. Video here.

Some of the glyphs have been painted red so they can be seen more easily (a controversial practice)…

…but others have been left as they were.

Although it’s tempting to think of this as Viking art, my understanding is they predate the expansionist Viking era (793–1066 AD) by at least a millenia.

Hopefully I’ll add more to this post on my next trip as a Viking ship burial has been found just up the road. I understand the excavation will be the first of a Viking ship in Norway for over one hundred years.

Off to the summerhouse now…

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