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Bronze casting and cultural connections: Bronze Age workshops at Hunn,


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Article  in  Praehistorische Zeitschrift · January 2016


DOI: 10.1515/pz-2016-0003

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Praehistorische Zeitschrift; 2016; 91 (1): 42–67

Abhandlung

Lene Melheim*, Christopher Prescott and Nils Anfinset

Bronze casting and cultural connections:


Bronze Age workshops at Hunn, Norway
DOI 10.1515/pz-2016-0003 des metallurgischen Know-hows, der Schmelztechnolo-
gien, der Typologie vorgefundener Artefakte, aber auch
Zusammenfassung: Die Autoren präsentieren zwei se-
bezüglich symbolischer Dekorationen. Alle diese Merk-
parierte Metallwerkplätze auf dem Gräberfeldareal von
male deuten auf spezialisierte Handwerker, die vor Ort
Hunn in Østfold, südöstliches Norwegen. Diskutiert
ihre Tätigkeit ausübten. In diesem Kontext zu erwähnen
werden Produktionsumfang, -charakter und kultureller
ist neben einer lokalen Keramikproduktion mit Paral-
Kontext der Funde. Eine dieser Örtlichkeiten, der Fund-
lelen in den Ostseeraum sowie einer Lausitz-inspirierten
platz von Midtfeltet, repräsentiert den für Skandinavien
Keramik noch eine frühe Brandbestattung bei Midtfeltet.
umfangreichsten bronzezeitlichen Metallwerkplatz. Die
Der Artikel konzentriert sich auf die Ergebnisse mehrerer
Fundstellen befinden sich in einer Region, aus der kaum
Grabungskampagnen in den Jahren 1996–2006 bei Midt-
vergleichbare Bronzeartefakte vorliegen, was aber auf die
feltet auf einer Fläche von insgesamt etwa 400 m2. Ge-
paradoxe Situation innerhalb der norwegischen Bronze-
borgen wurden erhebliche Mengen an hitzebeständiger
zeit hinweist, dass Örtlichkeiten der Herstellung und Ver-
und sonstiger Keramik, Abfällen der Metallverarbeitung
arbeitung von Bronze nicht mit jenen Regionen zusam-
sowie Flint und Tierknochen. Mittels Radiokarbonanaly-
menfallen, in denen die Mehrzahl bronzener Artefakte
sen kann der Fundplatz in einen Zeitraum von 1300–700
ihren Hauptniederschlag fanden. Die bronzezeitlichen
v. Chr. datiert werden.
Werkstätten und Monumente in Hunn liegt in einer vom
späten Neolithikum geprägten Region, in der auch nach Schlüsselworte: Bronzezeit; südöstliches Norwegen; Me-
der Bronzezeit noch weitere Bestattungen erfolgten und tallverarbeitung; Schmelztiegel; Kombination verschie-
Rituale durchgeführt wurden. Vorkommen unverhütteten dener handwerklicher Technologien; Austauschnetz-
Kupfers in bronzezeitlichen Kontexten können als Indika- werke; maritimer Handel
tor für den Handel mit Rohstoffen gewertet werden, was
ebenso seinen Nachweis findet durch Spuren in Schmelz- Résumé: Les auteurs de cet article présentent deux ate-
tiegeln anderer zentraler Werkplätze Skandinaviens. liers de métallurgie distincts découverts dans la nécro-
Hunn war mit hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit mit seinen zwei pole de Hunn dans l’ Østfold en Norvège du sud-est. La
Werkstattbereichen und Anzeichen einer spezialisierten discussion porte, entre autres, sur l’échelle et les carac-
Metallverarbeitung  – etwa durch Vorprodukte  – ein re- téristiques de la production métallurgique et le contexte
gionales Zentrum für die handwerkliche Produktion und dans lequel ces trouvailles s’inscrivent. Un des sites, celui
den Austausch unterschiedlicher Güter. Zu anderen nor- de Midtfeltet, est un des plus grands ateliers de l’âge du
dischen Fundplätzen mit Metallverarbeitung lässt sich Bronze jamais retrouvé en Scandinavie. Il se situe dans
hohes Maß an Übereinstimmung erkennen hinsichtlich une région qui n’a livré que relativement peu d’objets en
bronze, ce qui illustre un paradoxe dans l’archéologie de
l’âge du Bronze en Norvège: la dislocation entre les sites
de production d’objets en bronze et les lieux de dépôt.
*Corresponding Author: Anne Lene Melheim: Museum of Cultural
History, University of Oslo, Postbox 6762 St. Olavs plass, NO-0130 Les ateliers et monuments de l’âge du Bronze de Hunn
OSLO, Norway. ­E-Mail: a.l.melheim@khm.uio.no se trouvent dans une région qui a connu une occupation
Christopher Prescott: Department of ­Archaeology, Conservation and au Néolithique final, et après l’âge du Bronze cette région
History, University of Oslo, a continué à être utilisée pour des usages funéraires et
Postbox 1019 Blindern, NO-0315 Oslo, Norway.
rituels. Hunn est situé près d’un port naturel qui bénéfi-
E-Mail: christopher.prescott@iakh.uio.no
Nils Anfinset: University Museum of Bergen, Department of Cultural
cie de bonnes liaisons avec l’intérieur le long de rivières et
History, University of Bergen, Postbox 7800, N-5020 Bergen. de sentiers documentés pour l’époque préhistorique. Des
E-Mail: Nils.Anfinset@uib.no trouvailles de cuivre sans alliage dans un contexte de l’âge

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du Bronze pourraient indiquer un commerce en matière metalworking sites in terms of metallurgical know-how,
première, ce que des résidus dans des creusets retrouvés refractory technology and artefact typology, but also sym-
dans d’autres ateliers établis dans des sites centraux de bolic decoration, is noted. This is indicative of ambulat-
Scandinavie attestent aussi. Hunn, avec ses deux ateliers ing, specialized metalworkers who had the aggregation
et sa production spécialisée de préformes (entre autres site as their primary arena. A link to the Baltic is seen in
éléments), était probablement un centre régional où l’ar- the locally manufactured Lausitz-inspired pottery and an
tisanat et les échanges se concentraient. Nous observons early cremation burial at Midtfeltet. The article focusses
que les sites de production métallurgique norvégiens se on the results of small-scale excavation campaigns at
recoupent à plusieurs niveaux, dans le savoir-faire, les Midtfeltet in 1996–2006, covering an area of altogether c.
techniques réfractaires et la typologie des objets, mais 400 m2. The site produced a substantial amount of clay
aussi dans le symbolisme des motifs décoratifs. Tout ceci refractories, metalworking debris, flint, animal bone and
semble indiquer que nous avons affaire à des artisans pottery, 14C-dated to c. 1300–700 BC.
spécialistes en métallurgie ambulants qu’on retrouve tout
Keywords: Bronze Age; south-east Norway; metal produc-
particulièrement sur les sites d’agrégation. La céramique
tion; refractory finds; cross-craft technologies; exchange
locale d’inspiration Lausitz et une sépulture à incinération
networks; maritime trade
à Midtfeltet suggèrent que des liens existaient avec la Mer
Baltique. Notre article traite principalement des résultats
The finished objects from the Bronze Age that we recover
de fouilles de peu d’envergure, représentant un total d’en-
from settlements, graves and hoards, are naturally at the
viron 400m2 fouillé entre 1996 et 2006 à Midtfeltet. Le site,
center of archaeological attention. As a pendant to dep-
daté par radiocarbone entre 1300 et 700 av. J.-C., a livré
ositional contexts, associations and typology, studies
une quantité importante d’argile réfractaire, de résidus de
concerning their production, technology and biographies
métal, de silex, d’ossements d’animaux et de céramique.
have lately grown in importance. Such studies demon-
Mots-clés: âge du Bronze; Norvège du sud-est; métallur- strate that metal  – copper alloys and gold  – were not
gie; objets réfractaires; connections entre technologies; simply raw materials to be acquired, traded and processed
réseaux d’échange; commerce maritime to produce the weapons, tools and jewelery in demand
from society. Instead, it becomes clear that metals and
Abstract: The authors present and discuss two segregated their making affected symbolism, beliefs, practices,
metal workshop sites at the Hunn burial ground in Østfold, knowledge, networks etc. The current emphasis on tech-
south-east Norway, and address topics like the scale and nology, skill, agency and cognition reflects a wish to go
character of the production and the cultural context of deeper into metalworking as craftsmanship: its embodied
the finds. One of these sites, the Midtfeltet site, repre- practices and social fabric1. An important field of study
sents one of the most extensive Bronze Age metallurgical should therefore be concerned with production sites: the
workshops in Scandinavia. The site is located in a region skills and practices that can be traced, the contextual
that has yielded comparatively few bronze artefacts, patterns that can be constructed and the expressions of
and illustrates a paradoxical trend in Norwegian Bronze meaning that can be generated from workshop finds. The
Age archaeology: the dislocation between production of casting sites not only represent a further source of infor-
bronze objects and their final deposition. The Bronze Age mation, but provide a different kind of information. This
workshops and monuments at Hunn are situated in an is very much the case for the Scandinavian metal work-
area with a Late Neolithic history, which after the Bronze shops. Much of the Scandinavian Peninsula has yielded
Age continued to be used for burials and rituals. Hunn is few bronze objects  – indeed there is such a deficiency
situated by a natural harbor, and has good conditions for of finds that there has been a longstanding discussion
embarking inland on rivers and documented prehistoric about whether much of Norway and Sweden even had a
tracks. Occurrences of unalloyed copper in a Bronze Age Bronze Age. This becomes a paradox when the far-flung
context may be considered an indication of trade in raw distribution of workshops is taken into account. Not only
metals, which is also indicated by residues on crucibles were metal objects produced in areas deemed as periph-
at other central workshop sites in Scandinavia. Hunn was eral, but the cultural expression of their production re-
very probably, with its two workshop areas and signs of flects a deep entrenchment in ideology and practices. The
specialized production of, among other things, preforms,
a regional center or aggregation site for craft production
1 Cf. Kuijpers 2002; 2012; 2013; Nørgaard 2014a; 2014b; Sørensen
and exchange. A high degree of overlap between Nordic
2015.

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44   Lene Melheim, Christopher Prescott and Nils Anfinset, Bronze casting and cultural connections

paradox becomes even more pronounced, as this article The size and quality of the Midtfeltet material was –
demonstrates, when one of the largest workshops in Scan- and still is – of a considerable size compared to other sites
dinavia is situated in a region with few metal finds. The in Scandinavia. The most suitable comparison, based
tendency that the centres of production and the centres of on the character of the metallurgical finds and the large
consumption do not overlap, remains an enigma in Bronze amounts of accompanying pottery, flint waste, burnt
Age research despite having been discussed for decades2. clay and animal bones, are a select group of other refer-
The present article presents and interprets two Bronze ential Scandinavian workshop finds: Håg6, Hallunda7,
Age workshop sites situated at Hunn in Østfold, Norway, Voldtofte/Kirkebjerget8, Vindblæs9, Broåsen10, Skälby11
and dated to the second and first millennia BC. The aim is and the more recently excavated Apalle12, Ryssgärdet13
twofold: to make a comprehensive presentation of the rich and Kristineberg14. In particular, droplets of copper – pos-
evidence from Hunn available to a wider audience, and, sibly indicating that unalloyed copper and tin were avail-
to discuss cultural connections that we consider to be of able to the metalworkers at Hunn– make a comparison
value for understanding the context of metalworking and with Hallunda near Stockholm and Kristineberg in Malmö
the role played by the metalworkers at Hunn and beyond. legitimate.
One of the sites, Midtfeltet, is to date among the largest The large burial ground at Hunn generated tremen-
bronze casting workshops in Scandinavia, and was proba- dous archaeological attention in the 19th and 20th centu-
bly a central production site servicing a wider region. This ries. It is situated in an area of southeastern Norway which
workshop exhibits a range of archaeological evidence borders on Bohuslän in Sweden, a region recognized for
indicative of cross-craft technology. Its immediate physi- its abundant Bronze Age rock art (Fig. 1). The mortuary
cal context is a burial ground, whilst the broader cultural monuments at what today is perceived as three adjoining
context is indicated by elite materials with Lusatian affil- cemeteries, coined Vestfeltet, Midtfeltet and Sydfeltet (i.e.
iations. These elements provide an exceptional platform the west, middle and south site, Fig. 2), span the entire
for exploring the everyday practices of metalworkers at Bronze and Iron Ages15. The first layman excavations at
Hunn. Hunn in the late 19th century AD and the later archaeolog-
ical surveys were mainly concerned with the large grave
mounds. However, a large-scale international project di-

Hunn: Landscape and background rected by Anders Hagen and Erling Johansen in 1950–1953
led to a shift in focus from burial monuments to settle-
ment and production. From the 1970s until the present, a
This article is based on fieldwork at Midtfeltet in the late
number of small-scale excavations have contributed sig-
1990s to 2006. The investigations led to the discovery of a
nificantly to shedding light on the many different usages
well-preserved Bronze Age workshop, with a rich material
of this landscape and especially the Bronze Age activities
consisting of, among other things, crucibles, clay moulds,
at Hunn16. The identification of several metal workshop
cores and bellows nozzles covering the time span 1300–
sites has later enhanced Hunn’s standing as a central
700 BC. What initially generated our interpretative per-
Bronze Age landscape.
spective3 that emphasized the ritual aspects of Bronze
The area was initially inhabited when post-glacial
Age metallurgy, and especially the use of body and life
land-rise created dry land here in the Late Mesolithic.
metaphors in rituals connected to metalworking, was the
The Hunn area is well suited for Stone Age cultivation
spatial concurrence of a metal workshop and a cremation
and herding with its combination of well-drained sandy
burial ground4. The spatial correlations suggested a con-
moraine soils and pastures along the shore. Farms were
ceptual link between the two fields of practice5.

6 Neergaard 1908.
2 E.g. Bradley 1985; Melheim 2012b, 93; Nordenborg Myhre 1998, 7 Jaanusson 1971; 1981.
62–66. 8 Müller 1919; Thrane 1993.
3 We launched this interpretation in a paper held at the 8th Nordic 9 Vestergaard Nielsen 1956.
Bronze Age seminar in 2000 (Anfinset/Melheim/Prescott 2002). 10 Sarauw/Alin 1923.
The volume was unfortunately never published, but the article was 11 Oldeberg 1942, 166–167; 1960, 1–56.
widely available on the net and has influenced current perspectives 12 Ullén 2003.
on Bronze Age metallurgy in Scandinavia. 13 Eriksson/Grandin 2008.
4 Prescott 2000; Anfinset/Melheim 2001, 2002b; Melheim 2008a, 14 Högberg 2011.
2015b, 131–134; cf. Skre 1998. 15 Resi 1986, 7; 12.
5 Cf. Kaliff 1994, 1997; Brück 2001, 2006; Goldhahn 2007, 293–306. 16 Ibid.; 2008.

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Fig. 1: Map of Norway with Hunn and the three burial grounds indicated
(Map: Steinar Kristensen. Map data: Kartverket [norgeskart.no])

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46   Lene Melheim, Christopher Prescott and Nils Anfinset, Bronze casting and cultural connections

Fig. 2: Map of the three cemeteries at Hunn, Østfold. The Midtfeltet bronze workshop is situated in the area of mound
nos. 89–90. At Sydfeltet the remains from casting came from mounds 129, 132–134.
(Map: Hege Vatnaland. Modified from Resi 1986, Pl. 70)

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Fig. 3a–b: Cross-section of the mound (a)


and photo showing profile (b) (Drawing
and photo: Dagfinn Skre)

established at Hunn in the third millennium BC, around ments were excavated then or a little later, among these
the transition to the Late Neolithic17, and the area grew a Late Bronze Age mound20 which was situated in the im-
to become one of the most productive agrarian regions of mediate vicinity of the workshop area. Whereas the exca-
prehistoric Norway. The lower-lying burial monuments vated monuments mainly cover the Late Bronze Age–Early
at Hunn indicate what would have been the Bronze Age Iron Age, lithic finds indicate earlier usages of the site.
shoreline, where there also would have been a sheltered Small scale excavation campaigns held at Midtfeltet
harbor. Hunn is a nodal point in terms of prehistoric com- in 1992–199621 were partly aimed at rescuing material
munication, situated as it is near the sea and close to a from a grave mound (AL 89), which was situated on the
historically documented inland route18. eroding bank of the quarry. About a third of the mound
had been lost to the gravel quarrying, and it was in a spiral
of destruction due to erosion22. The rather inconspicuous

The Midtfeltet workshop mound consisted of  – in stratigraphic order  – an upper


cover or cap layer of soil and mixed grain sizes, a layer
of stones varying from fist-sized to large boulders, and an
Midtfeltet is the northernmost of the three Hunn sites
up to 40 cm thick layer of sand and pulverized charcoal,
(Fig. 2). The landscape and the prehistoric relics have
containing burnt bones, lithic debitage and burnt clay/
been irreparably damaged by gravel quarrying, which had
daub (Fig. 3a–b). This layer was considered to have been
removed nearly a third of the visible burial monuments
accumulated in situ23. No burials were identified under
before it was stopped in 1989. Altogether 43 burial mon-
or in the mound. However, the cultural layer covered by
uments, chiefly cairns, but also a number of stone rings,
the mound was firmly dated to the Bronze Age. It was
menhirs and stone settings, and a prehistoric track, were
this layer that first yielded in-context crucibles and clay
found and mapped in 1950–195319. Eight of the monu-

17 Herteig 1954; Hagen 1954, 16–28, 1983, 235; 2002, 140; Resi 1986, 20 Resi 1986, 63–65; 76; 78.
8; 11; Østmo 1988, 160–166. 21 Cf. Skre 1998.
18 (E.) Johansen 1951; (Ø.) Johansen 1981, 63. 22 Skre 1998, Fig. 2, compare Resi 1986 pl. 70.
19 Johansen/Hagen 1951; Resi 1986, 8–9. 23 Skre 1998, 126–131.

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Tab. 1: Radiometric dates from Midtfeltet with context information

Id. Material Uncalib. Calib. (1 sigma) Period Context Position

T-15101 Pine 3970+/–50 BP 2573–2455 BC Middle Neolithic AL89, lower layer 210x 194y
(MNB)

UBA-24416 Pine 3730+/–27 BP 2197–2047 BC Late Neolithic (LNI) NK7, post-hole 229x 188y

T-15103 Birch 3105+/–70 BP 1440–1274 BC II (–III) NK3, charcoal layer 188x 192y
(cremation burial)

T-15663 Unspec. 2890+/–65 BP 1132–994 BC (III–) IV AL89 (NK8), pit 214,5x


198,3–5y

T-10548 Birch 2890+/–100 BP 1260–930 BC III–IV AL89, bottom 205x 195y


­cultural layer

TUa-3474 Unspec. 2870+/–55 BP 1120–974 BC (III–) IV NK7, cultural layer 225x 192y

TUa-3473 Unspec. 2805+/–50 BP 1020–898 BC IV NK7, cultural layer 225x 192y

T-15098 Various 2795+/–85 BP 1038–840 BC IV–V NK1, pit 175x 188y

T-15665 Unspec. 2795+/–110 BP 1058–827 BC IV–V AL89 (NK8), pit 215x 198y

UBA-24414 Birch 2732+/–42 BP 910–830 BC (IV–) V AL89 (NK9), 209x 200y


hearth

UBA-24415 Hazel 2693+/–28 BP 847–809 BC V AL89 (NK9), 211x 198y


cultural layer

T-15664 Unspec. 2655+/–100 BP 942–752 BC (IV–) V AL89 (NK8), pit 214,5x


197,5y

TUa-3475 Unspec. 2850+/–55 BP 1060–967 BC IV AL89 (NK8), pit 214,5x


197,5y

moulds, indicative of bronze casting on the spot  – the of the mound25, indicating that this is where the main
scale and character of which was not earlier identified in casting activity took place and  – perhaps more interest-
Norway. There were also generous amounts of pottery. On ing – that the extent of this area mostly corresponded with
the basis of finds from the cover layer it was argued that the mound. This was considered to indicate that there
the soil used to construct the mound stemmed from an was a deliberate connection between the mound and the
abandoned settlement nearby, thus predating the mound. workshop, and that the mound was constructed “[…] rel-
A radiometric date from the cultural layer indicated a atively shortly after the construction was abandoned”26.
Nordic Early Bronze Age (EBA) to Late Bronze Age (LBA) In order to shed light on this event, Scandinavian parallel
date, i.e. around Montelius periods III–IV or 1300–900 BC finds were drawn in. By analogy with e.g. Hallunda and
(Tab. 1). A spearhead mould was assigned to a somehow Broåsen, the congregations of large boulders at the Midt-
later time, Montelius period V or 900–700 BC24. feltet site were interpreted as the remains of a house struc-
Horizontally the Bronze Age cultural layer was delim- ture with daub walls that had burnt down27.
ited by the overlying mound to the north and east, where Continued excavations in 1998–2002 and 2006 were
the mound was intact. To the west it disappeared into the extended to cover an area immediately north and east of
gravel pit and to the south it seems to have continued the mound, mainly following the gravel quarry’s erosion
outside the mound. Distribution maps lucidly demon- zone28. Consequently, altogether 400 m2 of the Midtfeltet
strated that most of the refractory material and other finds workshop has been investigated. The new investigations
like burnt bones, daub, pottery and flint, were in great- demonstrated that the mound (AL 89) covered a larger
est concentration in an area delimited by the central part
25 Ibid. Figs. 10–16.
26 Ibid. 130, authors’ translation.
27 Ibid. 132–133.
24 Ibid. 130; 139. 28 Anfinset/Melheim 2001; 2002a; Kristiansen/Prescott 2000.

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Fig. 4: Map of Midtfeltet and the excavated areas with the two main sites NK 7 and AL 89. The EBA cremation
burial (NK 3) occurred beneath the round stone setting south of AL 89 (Map: Steinar Kristensen)

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50   Lene Melheim, Christopher Prescott and Nils Anfinset, Bronze casting and cultural connections

area than first expected, ending in a slightly curving row group, typologically dated to Montelius periods III–V or
of stones in the north and northeast, which may be inter- 1300–700 BC35, and other types of Late Bronze Age pottery,
preted either as the mound’s kerbstones or as a stone wall for example black-burnished ware36, also indicates ar-
enclosing the workshop area. The shape, which rather in- chaeological contemporaneity. Also the fact that a clay
dicates an elliptic structure and the fact that the cultural core from the northern area is of a type that would fit a
layer does not continue on the other side, may indicate spearhead mould from the primary area perfectly, suggests
that the row of stones was actually built to delimit the simultaneous usage of the two sites within the 1200–800
casting area. This strengthens the scenario first outlined cal. BC time span indicated by the 14C-dates (Fig. 7, Tab. 1).
by Dagfinn Skre, of a construction reminiscent of a house. A possible scenario is that the entire workshop area was
Whereas Skre stressed the functional aspects of the build- used, at least at times, simultaneously, but that only a
ing, a later reinterpretation of the Hunn workshop as a cult small part of it was delimited by a physical structure.
house instead emphasizes symbolic and ritual aspects29. The occurrence of bifacial lithics (Fig. 8a–b) at Midt-
In addition, a number of stone settings  – not visible on feltet suggests that the site was actively used in the EBA or
the ground’s surface, but coming forth in the course of de- earlier. A fragment of a bifacial flint sickle/dagger or spear-
turfing – were investigated (Fig. 4). Some of these could be head occurred beneath the kerbstones of the previously
defined as burial monuments. Most interestingly, an EBA mentioned stone setting (cf. Fig. 4) with the early crema-
cremation burial was identified in one of the larger stone tion burial37. Seven bifacial arrowheads of flint and one of
settings (NK 3), charcoal-dated to 1440–1274 cal. BC. This quartzite may, on the basis of typology and find context,
is among the earliest evidence of Urnfield or Lusatian in- be anchored in the period 1300–700 cal. BC38. A further bi-
fluence on burial customs in Norway, locally matched by facial flint point with straight base and a notch (cf. Fig. 8b)
a slightly earlier burial at the Opstad cemetery30, c. ten km found in an area with early radiocarbon datings outside
from Hunn. the mound may even belong in an earlier part of the EBA,
Importantly, a new workshop area with metallurgical if the widest possible time frame for this type of arrow-
finds (NK 7) was uncovered 10–15 m north of the mound heads is used39. The preliminary analysis of the Midt-
and thus outside the stone structure31. Judging from the feltet flint assemblage has not yielded secure evidence of
physical segregation of the two casting areas it is likely that on-site bifacial pressure-flaking, and primary production
the investigated areas housed two separate workshops. was probably located elsewhere. In general, the types of
The original spread of the cultural layer of the northern refractory finds recovered from the site cannot be more
casting area towards the west and south could not be de- precisely dated than to the Bronze Age. However, judging
termined since it was truncated by gravel quarrying, but it from radiometric dates, the lithic material, spatiality and
was clearly discontinuous from that of the primary work- the expression of continuity in use, it seems that the Midt-
shop area and increased in thickness towards the erosion feltet site was taken up as a casting workshop in the EBA,
zone (Fig. 5). Since most of the finds were made at the and continued to evolve towards the expression found in
brink, it seems that a significant part of this site has disap- the LBA.
peared into the gravel pit32. Judging from an older map33, Earlier interpretations have focused chiefly on techni-
another now removed cairn (AL 90) was situated here and cal and symbolic aspects and ideas related to the construc-
possibly intentionally or unintentionally covering parts of tion of the mound40. To achieve a platform for discussing
this workshop area (cf. Fig. 2)34. craftsmanship and the scale, character and context of pro-
Yet, apart from the fact that bellows nozzles were only duction, the technical ceramics from Midtfeltet  – cruci-
recovered from the primary workshop area, the refractory bles, clay moulds and tuyères – will be presented in some
assemblages from the two sites are similar: large and or- detail below.
dinary sized crucibles occur at both sites and they are vis-
ually homogeneous in terms of wear/sintering (Fig. 6). The
presence at both sites of rusticated pottery of the Fosie A
35 Björheim/Säfvestad 1993; Lindahl/Olausson/Carlie 2002, 82–83;
29 Goldhahn 2007, 214; 308. Meling 2010.
30 Løken 1978, 150; 152–153, 1998, 178. 36 Eriksson 2008b; Jaanusson 1981.
31 Anfinset/Prescott 1998; Prescott/Anfinset 1999; Anfinset 2001, 37 Anfinset 2006, 30.
2006; Anfinset/Melheim 2002a; Melheim 2007. 38 Mjærum 2012, 122–123, cf. Prescott 1987, 153.
32 Anfinset/Melheim 2002a; Melheim 2007. 39 Mjærum 2012, 123.
33 Resi 1986 pl. 70. 40 Anfinset/Melheim 2001; 2002b; Melheim 2008a; Prescott 2000;
34 Anfinset 2001, 5. Skre 1998.

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Fig. 5: Map of the excavated area at Midtfeltet with the two sites NK 7 and AL 89 (cf. Fig. 4), and the distribution of
casting debris (Maps: Steinar Kristensen)

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52   Lene Melheim, Christopher Prescott and Nils Anfinset, Bronze casting and cultural connections

Fig. 6: Mould and crucible from Midtfeltet (Photo: Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo)

Fig. 7: Radiometric dates from Midtfeltet with


­relevance for the metallurgy

Clay moulds wooden sticks. In addition to the moulds proper, over 23


pieces of clay cores, mostly the funnel-shaped upper part,
The Midtfeltet refractory assemblage consists of more were identified. This enabled, in 20 cases, a more or less
than 500 fragments or 1391 g of clay moulds and cores secure identification of what was cast. From the imprints
(Fig. 9a–b). More than 75 fragments had the inner layer it is clear that spearheads, daggers or swords, and rings of
of grey ‘slip’ intact and more than 33 had remains of the at least two different sizes and types were cast. Moulds for
concave casting cavity. Nine fragments had impressions of the casting of plain rings are present at most Nordic work-

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Fig. 8a–b: Examples of bifacial arrowheads (a–b) and a flint strike-a-light (a) from Midtfeltet
(Photo: Museum of Cultural History and Drawing: Rune Borvik)

shops aswell as in Germany and Poland41. Detlef Jantzen Among the noteworthy finds is a large piece of a
argues that such rings were not the final product, but bivalve mould with external decoration and a conical
probably a stage in the production of manually twisted cavity for the casting of spearheads (Fig. 6; 10a). It is dated
rings. Some pieces possibly derive from broken moulds to the Late Bronze Age in analogy with LBAV spearheads
used to cast hanging vessels and another may possibly of the Pfahlbau or west Baltic type and other Nordic mould
represent a clay model for belt cupolas42. finds43. The 9.5  × 4.4  cm large piece is mainly from the

41 Jantzen 2008, 74. 43 Skre 1998, cf. Baudou 1960, pl. III,IVC; Jacob-Friesen 1967, 250;
42 Cf. Oldeberg 1960, Fig. 33,2–3; Vahlne 1974, 39 Fig. 19. Neergaard 1908, Figs. 8–9; Vestergaard Nielsen 1956, Figs. 6–7.

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54   Lene Melheim, Christopher Prescott and Nils Anfinset, Bronze casting and cultural connections

yet blade impressions are observed on several other frag-


ments possibly deriving from the same mould. A cylindri-
cal core from the northern workshop area has channels on
the outside (Fig. 10b), unlike most other cores, with the
exception of a single Danish specimen48. It is 3.1 cm long
and 1.7  cm wide and could possibly match a spearhead
mould like the one here described, or, a similar mould for
another type of hollow-cast object.
Compared to the other Nordic sites with clay mould
finds, the Hunn material is considerable in terms of size
and variation, matched only by sites like Vilsted, Galge-
dild, Ganløse Mosevej and Skälby (Tab. 2). The clay mould
assemblage from Midtfeltet resembles those from other
Nordic workshops in terms of the choices made in the
use of raw materials: the outer layer of yellow clay with
mixed grain sizes, the inner layer of uniform fine-grained
clay creating a smooth surface49 and the cores of basically
the same type of fine-grained clay as the moulds, but
leaving a more compact impression50. It also seems that
at Hunn, like in most other workshops, bivalve moulds
were used side-by-side with moulds for lost-wax casting,
and wooden sticks were used to prevent the moulds from
twisting. These elements are evidence of a shared refrac-
tory technology, at least in the Nordic zone. Another sim-
Fig. 9a–b: Examples of mould fragments (a) and cores (b) from ilarity is seen on the exterior decoration of the mould for
Midtfeltet (Drawing: Hege Vatnaland) spearheads from Midtfeltet (cf. Fig. 10a) and a mould from
Håg51. This feature is understood as non-functional and
upper part of a mould, which served to pour in metal and not, for example, a means of coiling the mould-halves to-
stabilize the core. It has a 3 cm long, 0.5 cm wide channel gether. Similar decoration is present on moulds for plain
which follows the cavity lengthwise to allow for pouring rings uncovered at Kirkebjerg/Voldtofte on Funen and Gal-
the bronze into the mould. On the best preserved side gedild in Odense, as well as on a mould for twisted neck
there are two oblique ‘ridges’ that would have served to rings from Ganløse Mosevej in Fredriksborg52. Various
stabilize the clay core. Though similar solutions have been other forms of finger and nail imprints are found both on
observed in Danish specimens, the specific kind of ridges spearhead and sword moulds, as well as on Late Bronze
observed here is unparalleled44. The two rings cross-cut- Age pottery53. This seems to imply that a shared aesthetics
ting the mould below the depression would result in two or symbolism related to ceramic moulds and pottery was a
horizontal decorative ridges on the cast object, as for common trait for the Nordic workshop sites.
example seen on spearheads of the west Baltic type, while
the line ornaments on this type would have been executed
after casting45. Spearheads are notoriously difficult to date Crucibles
and LBA spearheads are first and foremost separated from
earlier precursors by their hollow-cast blade46. A spear- The Midtfeltet assemblage of quartz-tempered crucibles
head cast in the Hunn mould would be c. 21.5  cm long consists of 302 or 3168 g fragments (Fig. 11). 205 of the pre-
with a 1.9  cm wide socket with inwards sloping sides47. served sherds are from the rim, and of these 22 derive from
The mould surface is fragmented where the blade begins,

48 Jantzen 2008, 58; 117 Taf. 22,137.


44 Cf. Jantzen 2008, 58, Fig. 15 cat. nos. 10.19.24, Neergaard 1908, 49 Högberg 2011, 29–39.
Fig. 10. 50 Cf. Jantzen 2008, 118.
45 Jantzen 2008, 59. 51 Skre 1998, 139 Fig. 17, cf. Neergaard 1908, 301–302 Fig. 5.
46 Engedal 2010, 68; Jantzen 2008, 59. 52 Jantzen 2008, 67–68; 74 Fig. 18; Thrane 1993, 41 Fig. 6.
47 Skre 1998, 138. 53 Jantzen 2008, 57–58;60–61; Neergaard 1908, 302 Fig. 9.

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 Lene Melheim, Christopher Prescott and Nils Anfinset, Bronze casting and cultural connections   55

Fig. 10a–b: Mould for the casting of


spearheads of the west Baltic type (a) and
core (b). From two different contexts at
Midtfeltet (Drawing: Hege Vatnaland)

the spout. About 9 % of the crucible material from Hunn documented at Kristineberg, gold57. A small metal droplet
showed no evidence of use. More than 1/3 of the sherds consisted of unalloyed copper58, which may indicate that
were severely sintered and 63 % exhibited a red-glazed raw or pure copper was available to the metalworkers at
vitrification layer or traces of a red layer along the rim, os- Hunn, as was arguably the case at Hallunda59 and Näm-
tensibly caused by copper gas54. Sintering has mostly af- forsen60. This challenges the often made assumption that
fected the crucibles’ upper part, indicating that they were most imported metal was already alloyed61, and instead
fired from above55. Refurbishment of crucibles by adding suggests that copper and tin ingots were traded. The pres-
one or several more layers of fine clay is identified on 17 % ence of unalloyed copper may even encourage a discus-
of the sherds, and has also been extensively documented sion of whether metal production in the Nordic region may
at other Scandinavian sites such as Kristineberg56. Ten have involved the smelting of ore or beneficiation of raw
sherds had small droplets of metal of two different types: copper. An evident source of error is that the alloying el-
golden and oxidized green. Analysis of the metal is not yet ements may be unevenly distributed in the metal or that
available, but the golden droplets may potentially be pure
copper which oxidizes less rapidly than bronze, or, as was 57 Ibid., 74 Tab. 47.
58 EDS analysis conducted by Arne Espelund at NTNU, University
of Trondheim: The droplet contained chiefly Cu and some As, Sb, Ag
and Pb at trace element/impurity level and was interpreted as raw
54 Neergaard 1908, 290; Högberg 2011, 57 Tab. 11. copper (E-mail Arne Espelund 06. 05. 2003 and 07. 02. 2008).
55 Thrane 1993; Jantzen 2008, 207; Engedal 2010, Fig. 7; Högberg 59 Vahlne 1974, 22; 40.
2011, 68–69. 60 Hulthén 1991, 25.
56 Högberg 2011, 57. 61 E.g. Liversage 2000.

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Tab. 2: Simplified overview of selected Scandinavian bronze workshops and the refractory finds. Products marked with grey indicative of specialized production (after Melheim 2015)
56 

Clay mould fragments (no.)


Clay moulds weight (g)
Rods/plain rings
Spearheads
Swords/daggers
Neck rings
Fibulas
Needles
Hanging vessels
Arm rings
Belt cupolas/tutuli
Neck collar
Buttons
Socketed axes/chisels
Knives/sickles
Awls
Lures
Criuclble fragments (no.)
Crucibles weight (g)
Bellows nozzle fragments

Vilsted, Vilsted, Jutland 603 2564 ● ● ● ● ● ● 42  873

Galgedil, Otterup, Funen 535 3637 ● ● ● ● ● 12  498

Hunn, Fredrikstad, Østfold 511 1391 ● ● ● ● ●? ●? ● 310 3268 ●

Ganløse Mosevej, Ganløse, Zealand 503 3026 ● ● ● ● ● 71 1510 ●

Skälby, Vårfrukyrka, Uppland >400 ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● >200

Apalle, Övergrans, Uppland 365 1371 ● ● ● ● ● ● ● 148 1386

Jyderup skov, Vig, Zealand 320 1582 ● ● ● ● ● ● 38  510

Brokbakken, Gullev, Jutland 319 ● ●? ● 206

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Broåasen, Grimeton, Halland 300 ● ● ● 196

Vrå, Knivsta, Uppland 204  459 ● –

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Hallunda, Botkyrka, Södermanland 231 ● ● ● ● ●? ●? ● ● ● 80

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Mølgård, Vindblæs, Jutland 199 2387 ● ● ● 78 1425

Fosie, Lockarp-Oxie, Skåne ~140 ●? ●? 1 ●

Håg, Thorsager, Jutland 96 1591 ● ● ● ● ● ● ●? 216 4654 ●


 Lene Melheim, Christopher Prescott and Nils Anfinset, Bronze casting and cultural connections

Kirkebjerg/Voldtofte, Flemløse, Funen 83 1075 ● ● ● ● 25 >720

Bredåker, Uppsala, Uppland 79 ● ● ● ● 37

Flædemose, Store Heddinge, Zealand 74  910 ● ●

V. Bökestad, Linköping, Östergötland 68 ● 19

Løgstrup, Fiskbæk, Jutland <50 ● ~30 ●

S. Kristineberg, Oxie, Skåne 48 ● ● 6

Humlekärr, Lyse, Bohuslän 42  188 364 7456

Bokenäs g:a kyrka, Bokenäs, Bohuslän ~ 110


 Lene Melheim, Christopher Prescott and Nils Anfinset, Bronze casting and cultural connections   57

of Nordic crucibles. Smaller crucibles of the kind found at


Kristineberg and Västra Bökestad, there employed in the
melting of precious metals66, were not identified.

Tuyères

Nine sherds from two different bellows nozzles appeared


in a restricted area of the workshop (Fig. 12). The nozzles
were made out of a coarse and compact material, tem-
pered with sand and quartz. Whilst four sherds, two of
which are decorated, derive from the end piece – the part
of the tuyère adjoining the bellows – two heavily vitrified
plain sherds derive from the mouth piece. The Midtfeltet
tuyères were decorated with a design on the part adjoining
the bellows which is paralleled by other Nordic finds. Al-
though differing slightly in details, the decoration scheme
is basically the same. On the basis of differences in size
and a slight difference in the execution of the ornaments,
Fig. 11: Ordinary-sized crucible from Midtfeltet
it seems plausible that the sherds from Midtfeltet belong
(Drawing: Hege Vatnaland)
to two different nozzles. An almost identical decoration
scheme is seen on the broadest end of the conical figu-
they have segregated in the melting process. However, the
rine from Pryssgården67, recently reinterpreted as a zoo-
extensive analyses of crucibles from Kristineberg confirm
morphic bellows nozzle68, presumably – with its pointed
that unalloyed copper was available along with unalloyed
ears and ‘mane’– symbolizing a horse. This is similar
tin. Here, pure copper of at least two types were alloyed in
to another decorated bellows nozzle, the horse-headed
situ62.
mouth piece from Ørslev Skovgård at Funen69 (albeit de-
Two nearly whole crucibles and another half of a crucible
termined by Jantzen70 to be anthropomorphic). The Midt-
help us reconstruct the weight of an intact crucible. On
feltet pieces do not, however, seem to have had zoomor-
the basis of the best preserved crucible, weighing 171.4 g,
phic mouth pieces. When it comes to the decorated welt
and the half crucible (89.1 g) it seems likely that a cruci-
or ribbon on the end piece, very possibly it contributed to
ble of the most common type would weigh c. 170–190 g,
strengthening the transition from bellows to nozzle71, by
as earlier suggested by Skre63. The volume of the ordi-
preventing the thread or sinew that held the skin of the
nary sized crucibles at Hunn is at least c. 0.5–6  dl, or,
bellows from slipping. Of course, this functionalist ex-
50–60 ml64. As demonstrated below, this estimate may
planation does not imply that a symbolical reading of the
indicate that most artefact types typical for the LBA, with
decoration scheme is not for that reason also valid.
the exception perhaps of very large swords, could be cast
Models for crucible melting, based on the fact that
with the help of one such crucible. Also, 11 sherds be-
Nordic bellows nozzles usually have angled mouth pieces,
longing to crucibles of a slightly larger type were identi-
suggest that the crucible was placed in a pit and filled with
fied, corresponding to a small number of similar finds at
metal and charcoal, and air blown onto it from above72.
other Scandinavian sites65. The Midtfeltet crucibles differ
Thus, the bellows could be operated from the side and
slightly from the reconstructed type from Håg primarily
was protected by a forge stone. The length of the Midtfeltet
in being somewhat lower and having less pronounced
bellows nozzles would have been considerable if they
openings. In other respects, the Midtfeltet finds seem to
be representative for the fairly homogeneous occurrences
66 Högberg 2011, 47.
67 Stålbom 1998.
62 Högberg 2011, 60–61. 68 Thrane 2006.
63 Skre 1998, 40. 69 Thrane 1993, Fig. 10; 2006, 271, cf. Jensen 2002, 366.
64 Melheim 2015b, 100. 70 Jantzen 2008, 207–208, Fig. 76.
65 Cf. Neergaard 1908, 287; Vahlne 1974, Fig. 3; Thrane 1993, 42–43 71 Cf. Thrane 1993, Fig. 9.
Fig. 7. 72 Thrane 1993, Figs. 9–10, cf. Engedal 2010 Fig. 7; Jantzen 2008.

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58   Lene Melheim, Christopher Prescott and Nils Anfinset, Bronze casting and cultural connections

Fig. 12a–b: Bellows nozzle fragments


from Midtfeltet: decorated end-piece (a)
and sintered mouth-piece (b)
(Drawing: Hege Vatnaland)

were conical in shape and straight all the way from end judging from the large diameter, still larger than the other
to mouth. The (outer) diameter of the end piece was esti- Nordic specimens and comparable instead to an intact
mated to 9–10 cm, and the (outer) diameter of the mouth tuyère from Germany. The 12–11th century BC find from
piece to 6 cm. Judging from the variation in diameter of the Rotta in Wittenberg, contained, among other things, two
end and mouth piece respectively, and the fairly straight almost intact, angular bellows nozzles, of unprecedented
walls, the tuyères would probably have been more than size for Middle Germany, over 35 cm long. The larger size is
40  cm long. If the Hunn nozzles were instead angular, explained as a means to re-melt large quantities of bronze,
the length would be somewhat less extensive, although or perhaps, the melting of copper ingots, which would

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 Lene Melheim, Christopher Prescott and Nils Anfinset, Bronze casting and cultural connections   59

also require a higher temperature73. In comparison, the were probably manufactured in connection with metal-
nozzle from Pryssgården was 12.5–15 cm long with a diam- working, it is likely that clay technologies were among the
eter of 4.5 cm74, a specimen from Fosie 17.5 cm long with an activities practiced at the Midtfeltet site. Moreover, finds
inner diameter of c. 5 cm75, the late example from Flæde- of black-burnished pottery suggest  – if it was produced
mose 18.5 cm long and 6 cm wide76 and the conical pipe locally  – the use of furnaces creating a reducing atmos-
from Tyregod 19 cm long77. It cannot, on the basis of the phere. Although in the period in question most pottery
shape of the preserved sherds alone, be decided whether was made on open fires and only sporadically in reducing
the Hunn specimens were angled or straight, although atmospheres82, the black-burnished pottery found at Midt-
it seems credible, judging from the comparative mate- feltet is best explained as the result of a reducing atmos-
rial in general and the similarities with the Pryssgården phere and incomplete combustion of the fuel, as has been
piece’s decoration in particular, that they belong to the suggested when it comes to the locally produced Lusatian
angled Nordic type, a theory which is further strength- pottery at Hallunda and elsewhere in Mälardalen83. In
ened by the fact that the Midtfeltet crucibles had clearly light of this, an alternative interpretation is that the daub
been fired from above. It is of interest that whilst the orna- comes from furnaces used to produce metal or ceramics.
ments on the bellows nozzles at Hunn parallel finds from Whereas several charcoal-filled pits at Midtfeltet can
the Nordic region, their unusual size matches a German be credibly interpreted as used for the melting and casting
bellows nozzle, which is interpreted as having been used of metal with the help of an open crucible and bellows or
for melting large quantities of metal or for the melting of for the pre-heating of clay moulds, two large constructions
copper ingots. stand out. They were probably used for tasks related to
metalworking, but not necessarily metallurgy per se. The
size of the larger of them was extensive despite having
Burnt clay, pits and pottery been diminished by the sandpit, measuring 1,5 m times
2 m, with a charcoal lens at the bottom and a 60–70 cm
3.6 kg of daub was collected from Midtfeltet, but few pieces thick sand layer mixed with charcoal and some fire-
had branch or twig impressions. The material was first in- cracked stones. A smaller hearth crosscut the pit at one
terpreted as belonging to daub walls in connection with a side and at this side there was also a large stone supported
workshop building or a sheltering wall78. Another possi- by smaller stones. A series of radiometric dates produced
bility is that it derives from broken furnace clay cupolas values ranging from 1132–752 cal. BC (Fig. 7, Tab. 1). The
or clay-lining, like the metallurgy-related furnaces at Hal- construction is thus contemporary with the workshop ac-
lunda and other Swedish sites like Lyse in Bohuslän79. tivities, and it was tentatively interpreted as a pit for char-
Combined pottery and bronze production has been iden- coal production84. Another more shallow charcoal-filled
tified at several Danish sites80. The LBA pottery furnaces pit was interpreted as a kiln or furnace85. Similar construc-
identified at Hyrdehøj in Zealand had a compact bottom tions have been identified at other Bronze Age workshop
layer of burnt stones for ventilation, a layer of unburnt clay sites around Scandinavia. For instance, various pits with
and a large amount of daub interpreted as the remains of stone-lining at Kristineberg have been convincingly inter-
a clay cupola81. Yet, like the burnt clay at Midtfeltet, the preted as metallurgy-related, others as pits for the produc-
daub showed no signs of sintering. Evidence of bronze tion of charcoal86. Whereas the largest pit at Midtfeltet is
production in the form of crucibles and clay moulds from probably best seen as a charcoal pit, the smaller of the
Hyrdehøj strongly indicates a cross-craft practice. Taking Hunn pits may very well have been used to produce tech-
into account that technical ceramics like crucibles and nical ceramics or household pottery.
bellows nozzles would have to be burnt in advance and Apart from black-burnished pottery with decorated
handles interpreted as drinking cups of the Lusatian type
and the already mentioned diagnostic rusticated pottery87,
73 Heilmann/Schunke 2004, 110–113.
74 Thrane 2006, cf. Stålbom 1998. the Midtfeltet site also yielded decorated pottery, for
75 Björheim/Säfvestad 1993, 77–78 Fig. 98; Lindahl/Olausson/Carlie
2002, Fig. 343. 82 Lindahl/Olausson/Carlie 2002, 83.
76 Thrane 1980, Fig. 10, cf. Jensen 1997, 72–73 Fig. 25. 83 Jaanusson 1981, 41; 120–130; Janzon 1984, 25; Hjärthner-Holdar/
77 Oldeberg 1943, 133 Fig. 268. Eriksson/Östling 2008; Eriksson 2006; 2008b.
78 Skre 1998, 137. 84 Anfinset 2006, 33.
79 Jaanusson 1981; Hjärthner-Holdar 1993; Högberg 2011, 70–71. 85 Melheim 2015b, 92–94.
80 E.g. Draiby 1985, 161–166. 86 Högberg 2011, 71–76.
81 Ingvardson 2005, 42–49. 87 Cf. Eriksson 2008b, 49.

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60   Lene Melheim, Christopher Prescott and Nils Anfinset, Bronze casting and cultural connections

example fragments of a vessel with zigzag patterns on find, a fragment of equus, may possibly relate to the horse
the belly, which strongly resembles pottery from the LBAV teeth from a Late Bronze Age primary grave in the neigh-
Fragtrup site88 and a few sherds of highly polished light boring mound93. It may also represent a horse sacrifice
brown pottery. The generous amounts of pottery, alto- related to the workshop activities. Whether the remaining
gether 7.6 kg, must be central in future evaluations of the animal bones come from meals, as implied by Skre94, or
workshop activities and its role in the region. Awaiting a whether bones were utilized in the production of bronze
more comprehensive analysis, several different explana- or pottery95, is not clear. Some of the bones were green to
tions, or a combination them, seem feasible and may con- turquoise-coloured, a feature which probably relates to
tribute to shedding light on the social milieu and cultural the presence of copper minerals in the cultural layer96.
context of the Midtfeltet site:
– On-site production of pottery: indicated by the pos-
sible furnaces and finds of burnt/crushed rock with
biotite, which may be used to create tempered, rusti-
The Sydfeltet workshop
cated pottery surfaces.
About 450 m south of Midtfeltet, another bronze casting
– Pots were used to carry, store or process foodstuffs
workshop has come to light in the area of Sydfeltet (Fig. 2).
or raw materials consumed at the site, e.g. water,
Although spatially separated from the Midtfeltet work-
beeswax and resin. This is particularly relevant for
shops, the rusticated pottery of the Fosie A group sug-
the rusticated pottery which is thick-walled and situ-
gests that it is archaeologically contemporary with them.
la-shaped89.
During the 1950s surveys, 48 discrete monuments at Syd-
– Pottery was used in feasts or rituals. This is particu-
feltet– stone rings, mounds, cairns, menhirs and stone
larly relevant for the black-burnished pottery90. On
settings – were identified and partly excavated, as well as
such occasions, or as part of rituals related to metal-
an urn field and a rock art panel97. The casting site was
lurgy, pottery and/or its contents may have been sac-
discovered in conjunction with cairns in the area with the
rificed.
urn field in the south-western part of Sydfeltet, in a pres-
ent-day tilled field and housing area. There are reasons to
suspect that the material comes from an in situ workshop
Animal bones
later covered by monuments, thus also in this respect par-
alleling the finds from Midtfeltet.
Another material category present at Midtfeltet and fre-
The cairns were built mainly of fire-cracked stones
quently encountered at other workshop sites, but poorly
and interpreted as refuse heaps from a LBA farm98. They
understood, is burnt animal bones. Altogether 1662 g of
are described as inconspicuous, 10–14 m across and
bone was collected from the primary workshop area91,
0.5–0.7 m high. Burnt stone and soot layers were piled
most of it heavily fragmented, but parts of the assem-
up around large grounded boulders and encircled by one
blage were suitable for osteological analysis. The majority
or two rows of kerbstones. Besides seven large crucible
was determined as scull and extremities of domesticates
fragments, pottery, flint waste, burnt bone and knapping
like ovis/capra/sus and bos92. Since no cut or saw marks
stones were collected from the cairns. Beneath them there
were identified, the material does not seem to derive from
was a 40–50 cm thick LBA cultural layer which contained
tools or their production. Two fragments were identified
rusticated pottery, fire-cracked stones and animal bones
as homo, though neither derived from the cultural layer:
mainly from domesticates, and signs of in situ burning. In
one was a stray find, whereas the other, a toe or finger
light of the crucible finds it was hypothesized that the ex-
joint, came from the mound fill. Thus the species deter-
tensive amount of fire-cracked stones derived from metal-
mination and spatial distribution of the bone material
working furnaces99. The link to metallurgy is underpinned
further strengthens the theory that the monument was
not a grave mound in the usual sense, i.e. a monument
built over the remains of a dead person. Another stray 93 Resi 1986, 64 F1.
94 Skre 1998, 135.
95 The use of bones for temper was identified in the Midtfeltet mate-
88 Draiby 1985, pl. III. rial although not very common.
89 Cf. Eriksson 2008b, 49. 96 Schibler et al. 2011, 1271.
90 Cf. Eriksson 2006; 2008b. 97 Resi 1986, 9.
91 Skre 1998, Tab. 1. 98 Johansen 1981, 72.
92 Melheim 2008b. 99 Ibid. 75.

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by the presence of 80 g of coarse black root bark of birch. of a stone-wall cult-house also mirrors broader finds from
When used as fuel, this part of the birch tree produces Scandinavia105.
high temperatures with low flames, and is thus particu-
larly well-suited for metalworking. Despite the quality
and extent of the Sydfeltet assemblage, at the time it was
considered to be small in comparison with other Nordic
Aspects of Hunn craftsmanship
workshops100.
As is clear from the above, Nordic metal craftsmen worked
Finds from a neighboring cairn which  – due to the
with similar refractory materials, based on a discriminat-
large stone ring surrounding it – goes by the name of Ring-
ing choice of raw materials, shapes and techniques. The
haug101, suggests that there is another bronze workshop of
homogeneous evidence from Hunn and other Nordic work-
a considerable size in this area. The finds from Ringhaug
shops speaks of a shared technology in an area covering
have received little attention, probably because no burials
the larger part of southern and central Scandinavia, from
were identified here, and the finds were interpreted as
Mälardalen via Østfold to Jutland. The practice of deco-
settlement remains: “The results from the excavation
rating refractory materials was a common practice with
were  […], when it comes to finds, relatively ordinary, or
symbolic connotations that spanned the Nordic region.
rather humble, but the construction was of a very rare
Regardless of whether these ornaments were the signa-
kind.”102. The inconspicuous, c. 9 m wide mound of sand
tures of craftsmen or whether they represent religious or
and mostly fire-cracked stones with neatly arranged kerb-
ontological ideas related to casting106, they manifest a
stones, was encircled by a larger, 18–19 m wide ring of
shared symbolism, which again points in the direction of
stones with 11 large boulders placed at regular intervals103.
a Nordic bronze working practice held in common. They
Since the excavation of Ringhaug was very restricted, a
were clearly not just the sudden idea of the craftsman, as
number of problems remain unresolved. From the up to
was argued by Carl Neergaard107.
0.5 m thick ‘fill’ of stones and sand came some flint, daub
The well-documented material from Midtfeltet allows
and two rubber stones for saddle querns. Beneath this was
us to approach questions concerning the scale and char-
a cultural layer and in the east a sandy layer which con-
acter of the production. It is important to keep in mind that
tained the majority of the finds. The identification of a red-
an unknown part of these workshops had disappeared in
glazed crucible sherd among the pottery may illuminate
gravel quarrying, which makes a full assessment impossi-
the two strange, centrally placed pits, which were poorly
ble. Furthermore, whereas the capacity of a stone mould
understood during excavation. They were described as c.
has been estimated to 50 castings108, no similar estimates
1 m across and ½ m deep, coated with an inner layer of
exist concerning the bivalve clay moulds (broken clay
burnt clay and filled with charcoal, one of them contain-
moulds used in lost-wax casting, however, can only be
ing some pottery and flat fire-cracked stones, the other
used once). Since clay moulds disintegrate readily, the
containing cattle teeth. The combination of clay lining,
better preserved crucibles seem to be more represent-
charcoal and fire-cracked stones may indicate that the
ative of the scale of production. As pointed out already,
pits were furnaces, and the crucible fragment is strongly
the Midtfeltet assemblage is among the largest in Scandi-
indicative of an association with metallurgy.
navia with 302 pieces. The 225 fragments from Håg were
TL datings of pottery from Ringhaug to the Late Bronze
estimated to correspond to 35–40 complete crucibles109.
Age–Pre-Roman Iron Age104 match a typological dating of
Using various criteria like weight, the number of sherds
the rusticated and striated pottery. The Sydfeltet workshop
or the number of spout fragments as our basis for cal-
is neither completely excavated nor accurately delimited,
culations, we ended up with a total of 11–23 crucibles110.
but shares some general traits with Midtfeltet and other
These conservative estimates are, however, complicated
Nordic workshops: remains of in situ metalworking over-
by a number of factors and are obviously much too low.
lapped and surrounded by elaborate monuments. A rec-
Skre111 draws attention to the possibility that the site had
tangular stone-walled structure c. 150 m east of Ringhaug,
not yet investigated but with its extensive size reminiscent
105 Victor 2002.
106 Engedal 2010, 269–291 Fig. 10.
100 Johansen 1981, 76. 107 Neergaard 1908, 302.
101 Storm Munch 1951; Resi 1986, 65 F3 pl. 44,I–II. 108 Weiler 1996a, 18.
102 Storm Munch 1951, 126–127, authors’ translation. 109 Neergaard 1908, 285–299.
103 Ibid. 128. 110 Compare Skre 1998, 140.
104 Resi 1986, 56 pl. 99,3. 111 Skre 1998, 40.

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Tab. 3: Crucible capacity based on ordinary-sized crucibles from rarely exceeding 250 g116. The lightest specimen is an axe
Midtfeltet compared with three different crucible sizes in Denmark of the Nordic type, the heaviest a Mälardalen axe of the
(after Jantzen 2008, 197)
Norwegian type. It is thus clear that the Midtfeltet cruci-
bles were easily large enough for the casting of all types
ml/cm³ Bronze (g)
of socketed axes. When it comes to other artefacts, swords
Midtfeltet II 50– 60 409– 534 seem to be the heaviest and most demanding in terms of
Jantzen I 25– 40 225– 350 the amount of bronze, weighing 256–924 g117. Whereas
Jantzen II 40–120 350–1070
rings weigh 10–128  g, women’s belt gear varies between
Jantzen III >120 >1070
40–450 g, and only the heaviest hanging bowls approach
the upper limit of an ordinary crucible’s capacity. This
means that the ordinary crucibles from Midtfeltet were
been cleared of old refractory material, which seems very
qualified for producing anything from the smallest ring
credible, and that the refractory assemblage is more of a
to a hanging bowl, whereas artefacts like large swords,
‘snapshot’ of the site shortly before it was abandoned than
mostly confined to the EBA, and – for that matter – solid
representative of the total production. A related factor is
shaft-hole axes, would probably require crucibles of the
the re-use of crucibles and two-part moulds, and also
larger type118, and/or, multiple crucibles operated simul-
the recycling of worn-out crucibles, perhaps also broken
taneously. It is of some interest that the capacity of the or-
clay moulds, as material for new crucibles. On 17 % of the
dinary-sized crucibles compares to the Bronze Age metal
crucibles multiple red-glazed layers – two or three – were
weight unit119 system identified by Mats Malmer120. The
present, demonstrating that the crucibles had been reused
upper limit for a crucible’s estimated capacity, 534 g, cor-
a number of times before being discarded. Given that cru-
responds to five times a weight unit of 107.07 g.
cibles were equipped with a second and third layer of clay,
This may be seen as yet another indication that the
not immediately, but after several castings, the number
raw material arrived at Midtfeltet in the form of ingots, or,
of casts represented by each crucible increases dramati-
alternatively, that ingots were made here. Possibly, rings/
cally112. Due to repeated reuse of refractory material and
rods and broken sickles represent regional systems of
a possible clearing of the site, it is difficult to assess the
metal standards adhered to in the redistribution of raw
scale of production at Midtfeltet. Yet, all indications show
material, in which a rod, for example, could correspond
that it was significant on a Scandinavian scale and, as in-
to the amount of metal needed to cast a pair of tweezers or
dicated by 14C dates and diagnostic finds, that the site was
two razors121. In consideration of Eva Weiler’s theory that
used at regular intervals or continuously through several
metal was recast at central workshops and redistributed,
generations.
the Midtfeltet ring moulds may indicate the production
Since it is crucial that the molten metal is swiftly
of prefabricated metal units which adhered to accepted
poured into the mould, the capacity of a crucible is rele-
standards, and furthermore that Midfeltet was a central
vant for what kind of objects were manufactured, although
workshop from which crafted artefacts, preforms and
it is possible that several crucibles were operated simul-
perhaps raw material was distributed. Two half-melted
taneously113. The minimum volume of the ordinary-sized
rings/rods, from a smith’s hoard at Bjørnstad in Halden
crucibles from Midtfeltet was estimated to 0.5–0.6 dl, or,
c. 25 km from Hunn, further underscores that rings/rods
50–60 ml. Calculations114 suggest that 1 ml bronze cor-
were used as prefabricated metal units in LBA Østfold. The
responds to at least 8.17 g, that is 8.17 g/cm³, or possibly
hoard is all the more suggestive since it also contained a
8.8–8.9  g/cm³115. The content of an ordinary crucible,
50–60 ml, thus corresponds to a minimum of 409 g and a
maximum of 534 g of bronze. Similar results are provided 116 Eilertsen 2007, 71–77 app. 1: II; XV tab. 10.
by Danish evidence, though based on calculations of the 117 E.g. in an overview from EBA Denmark, Koch 2001, 23–26; 49–51.
capacity of three different crucible sizes (Tab. 3). 118 Engedal 2010, 147, cf. Malmer 1992, 385.
The weight of a socketed axe, as exemplified by a 119 The unit was originally based on bronze statuettes and gold oath
rings, later expanded to shaft hole axes of the Fårdrup type (Malmer
study from western Norway, ranges from 26–376 g, yet only
1992). Eriksson (2008a) suggests that Malmer’s unit can be tied to a
wider monetary system, corresponding roughly with the weight of
112 Cf. Högberg 2011, 47; 61. four uncia in the Roman system, which was again based on the older
113 Andersen/Madsen 1984, 96; Rønne 2008; Holdermann Trommer Egyptian unit of beqa.
2010. 120 Malmer 1992; Sperber 1993; Eriksson 2008a, 218–224; Weiler
114 Eilertsen 2007, 19Fig. 7. 1996a; b.
115 Koch 2001, 23, cf. Engedal 2010, 147. 121 Weiler 1994, 142–145; 1996b, 18–19.

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twisted neck ring of the Wendel type, possibly made from general concurrence of Bronze Age metallurgy and crema-
such rods122. tion practices have been launched, some claiming a direct
link between the two in furnace technology129, others a
more metaphorical and conceptual link130. The temporal

Lusatian connections overlap and spatial proximity between the workshop at


Midtfeltet and a rich LBA cremation burial with evidence
of a horse-sacrifice131, is of some relevance to the present
The recovered fragments of drinking cups at Midtfeltet
argument. It may be argued that the funerary usage of the
may suggest that metallurgy took place within a social
Hunn landscape into the Roman Iron Age and beyond
setting nurtured, among other things, by overseas con-
represents conceptual continuity rather than a break with
nections. Lusatian pottery, although not necessarily im-
former practices132. Rather than being mere coincidences,
ported, may in analogy with finds from Mälardalen in
the formation of the Roman Iron Age elite burials at Vest-
Sweden, be seen as the physical symbols and remains
feltet, may be seen as relating to the construction of cul-
of a Nordic version of a Continental beverage culture123.
tural identity and mythologies on the basis of historical
At Ryssgärdet, the hilltop area with evidence of bronze
features in the landscape, in which craft practices and the
casting and feasting is interpreted as being part of a re-
adoption of cremation may have played central stage.
gional center of bronze production in a redistributive eco-
nomic system124. We have argued that metal production at
Hunn was centralized in the sense that it supplied a wider
region. Estimates of how large an area was covered and Conclusions
how exactly transactions were organized would, however,
have to be backed up with other evidence, and must be the The Bronze Age was characterized by ever evolving, far-
topic for future studies125. flung networks among more or less hierarchical socie-
Hallunda has been interpreted as a central workshop ties. Production was essential to these societies, and the
producing for a larger area126. In the mid 1980s Richard quest for sources of raw materials to fuel the production
Bradley127 launched the idea that Hallunda and other of weapons, tools and jewellery was certainly a constant
strategically situated Nordic workshop sites with unusual concern, and potentially a driving force in the dispersal
amounts of long-distance imports, like Asva off the coast of cultural traits and knowledge. The interpretation of
of Estonia, may have served as neutral places where bal- the Midtfeltet material in terms of settlement and social
anced transactions took place. Larsson and Hulthén128 structure is constricted by the small size of the excavated
have interpreted the Vistad site in Östergötland, mid-east- area. No Bronze Age long houses have yet been identified,
ern Sweden, as a Lusatian colony potentially motivated although it seems likely that the localization of the casting
by a demand for iron ores. Against this background and activities would have been motivated by and contingent
on the basis of the evidence of contacts with groups along on proximity to a contemporary settlement, as perhaps
the shores of the Baltic sea, Hunn’s status as a regional indicated by two early dates from Midfeltet (Fig. 1; Tab. 1),
center or aggregation site for seasonal craft production or, related to Late Neolithic–Early Bronze Age habitation
and barter/trade, based among other things on overseas at nearby Vestfeltet. Another motivating factor may have
imports and contacts, may be assumed. The combination been access to raw materials needed for casting. Whether
of metal workshops and Lusatian traits at Hunn repre- this was wood for producing charcoal, sand, clay or stone/
sents an as yet sketchy chapter of the social and cultural minerals for the making of technical ceramics, beeswax,
history of Northern Europe. or for example copper or gold or a combination of several
Another hint of outward contacts is the EBA cre- of these cannot be decided at present.
mation burial at Midtfeltet. Various theories about the The material from Hunn represents a taphonomic
paradox, on the one hand a material rich in expression,
on the other hand contexts fragmented by quarries, roads,
122 Cf. Jantzen 2008, 74.
house-building and ploughing. Important materials ex-
123 Eriksson 2006; 2008b; 2009, but see Larsson/Hulthén 2004.
124 Eriksson 2006, 167; 2008b; Hjärthner-Holdar/Eriksson/Östling cavated over a long period of time with varying aims and
2008, 501–508.
125 But see Melheim 2013; 2015a. 129 E.g. Goldhahn 2007; Goldhahn/Østigaard 2008.
126 Vahlne 1989. 130 Engedal 2010, 272–311; Melheim 2008a.
127 Bradley 1985. 131 Resi 1986, 64 pl. 43 F1–F2; 28–31; 40.
128 Larsson/Hulthén 2004. 132 Kristiansen/Prescott 2000, 118–119.

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64   Lene Melheim, Christopher Prescott and Nils Anfinset, Bronze casting and cultural connections

methods, often with a focus on graves and monuments, Anfinset 2001: N. Anfinset, Innberetning for undersøkelsene på
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