As I mentioned in my last entry, 2013 promised to be off to a good start with my planned visit to the archives at Tromsø Museum, and I have not been disappointed. The aim was primarily to study the private archives of the late Ørnulv Vorren (1916-2007), documents that were recently included in the Sámi ethnographic archives.
A professor of ethnography, Vorren wrote most of what has previously been published about Sámi circular offering sites and he did extensive surveys and investigation of such sites from about 1950 to 1990. Not all of the material he gathered through the years was published, so some of the information is only available in his original notes, maps, and letters. For the last week and a half I have been going through these in search of information that may be relevant to my project.
Among the surprises was the amount of finds Vorren made in the circular offering sites. I went into this project with an understanding that there was a very limited number of finds in previously investigated structures, but going through Vorren´s notes I discovered the finds included animal bones, charcoal, and woodworks from several of them.
Some of this material was brought into the museum and is still in the collections, and I have been fortunate enough to get permission to sample several of the finds in order to do C14 datings. This is an important progress for the project, since the chronology of the circular offering sites has been very uncertain.
In addition, I got to sample pieces of birch bark from one certain and three possible scree graves that were found within the well-known circular offering site at Mortensnes, Nesseby, Finnmark, during investigations here in the late 1960s. The graves seem to have been embedded in the “floor” of the circle, consequently it is likely that they were built after the stone circle as such. This means the birch bark should not be older than the stone circle, and dating the pieces should give a latest possible dating for the building of the structure.
All in all, these days in Tromsø were well spent, not least thanks to the very helpful staff at Tromsø Museum. Now all I need to do is to get the samples to the lab and wait for the dates…