Posted by: Marte Spangen | June 9, 2013

Nordland continued

The Leivset site is very overgrown and hard to photograph, but this picture shows one of the larg rocks and part of the stone "wall"

The Leivset site is very overgrown and hard to photograph, but this picture shows one of the large rocks and part of the stone “wall”

The Dragsbukta site

The Dragsbukta site

This year´s first field trip came to an end on Thursday, after a final survey of the offering site on Leivset, Fauske, which was also mentioned in the comments to my last post (“Death of a theory?“).

The legendary Tromsø Museum archaeologist Povl Simonsen describes this site in his nice little guidebook to archaeological sites in the north, “Fortidsminner nord for Polarsirkelen” (1970).  In the book he compares it with another monument in Dragsbukta, Hamarøy municipality, which I visited on Wednesday.

Both sites are described by Simonsen as consisting of a drywall around respectively two and one large rock, a construction that is easy to see in Dragsbukta. The Leivset site, however, is very overgrown, making it harder to get a grip of the shape of the monument.

According to Simonsen it has previously been a marked oval drywall of about 6×10 m around two large rocks, but the wall had fallen down when he visited it. I have to say I found it difficult to see the wall he describes; partly it is very low and undefined, partly the structure looks more like a cairn stretching out so that the monument has a total diameter of ca. 14 m.

In any case, these two sites differ from the ones I have seen before in that they include large rocks. The circular offering sites otherwise often have a small cairn or a mound in the middle of the stone circle.  These have been suggested to have served as foundations for now removed offering stones or wooden figures (so-called “sieidi” in northern Sámi), or as an “alter” where the offering was placed.

It could be that the Leivset and Dragsbukta sites are expressions of the same concept, where the rocks were the sieidi or “alter”, but I think the difference in shape gives reason to look for alternative explanations. Could for example the Dragsbukta monument be related to the fact that it is placed in the middle of a boat-hauling fairway on an isthmus (no.: drag)? The Leivset site is also placed close to an isthmus, but much higher up from the sea.

In general I think there is a great variation among the stone structures that have been registered as circular offering sites. A systematic analysis of these variations in order to decide what structures may be defined as (Sámi circular) offering sites is an important part of this project, and the reason why I have spent so much time travelling to see them myself.

The Leivset site was the 73rd stone circle I have visited since I started surveying them in 2010. So far I have seen stone circle sites in the counties of Hedmark, Oppland, Sør-Trøndelag, Nord-Trøndelag, Nordland, Troms, and Finnmark in Norway, as well as a couple of sites in Jämtland and Dalarna in Sweden. However, there are still more sites I would like to see, so I will probably be back on the road again soon…


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