Författararkiv: mgainsford

Fjällbacka, a settlement from the 1500s

Recently, Bohusläns museum completed two archaeological surveys within Fjällbackas marinas. Fjällbacka is an area that we have not had the oppurtunity to work in previously; an exciting situation. We were, hoping we could shed more light on the early history of Fjällbacka. The surveys were conducted in response to extended city planning and the planned construction of a retaining bank within the southern marina.

Figur 2      S14UM_UMFA53278_2399

                                                                                      Hugo Hallgren – Vy över Fjällbacka hamn

The name Fjällbacka stems from its location: that it resides at the base of ”fjället”; the sharply rising Vetteberget of 74 metres. The enscarpment derives its name from the nordic word ”viti”. that refers, most likely, to the prominent stone cairn on Vettebergets peak. This monument has with all probability functioned as a sea marker up until the modern day.

Fjällbacka is one of several well preserved coastal settlements in Tanums kommun. Its earliest mention is from the first fully fledged tax register of 1610. In the register two fishermen (leaseholders) are registered, residing in Fjällbacka. Although the first mention of Fjällbacka comes from 1610, it is supposed that Fjällbackas origins arise in the advent the ‘sill (herring) fishing period’ of the 1500s. A prime example of this is of the fisherman Mikel that lived at, and fished from the skerry (at the entrance of Dyngöns harbour) of the same name in the 1500s.

Figur 5_1662

The earliest karta showing settlement at Fjällbacka from 1662 (Lantmäteristyrelsens arkiv N8)

 Figur 6_Karta 1694_Stubelius

Fishing village at Fjällbacka,1694 (Stubelius 1940)

     Figur 7_1705_N58-96-1

Fishing village at Fjällbacka,1705 (Lanmäteristyrelsens arkiv N58-96:1)

During the ‘sill fishing period’ of the 1700s, a significant diaspora occurred in Bohuslän. People migrated towards the coast, relocating to take advantage of the sea for their livelihood. Fjällbacka during this period swelled significantly to become a settlement of circa fifty buildings/structures. It was at this time that Fjällbacka started to take off.

During the 1800s the settlement was described as Bohusläns ‘most vivacious fishing village’ and in 1835 the population had swelled to over 300. This was reflected in Bohusläns overall population increase, that had dubbled by the middle of the 1800s. At this time however,  sill numbers were decreasing as the sill period came to its conclusion. Even though the sill was diminishing in number, migration towards the coast was steady if not increasing.

Figur 4_sillfiske_1877_Stubelius_s5

Fishing sill, December 1877 (Stubelius 1940)

Although an emphasis of coastal settlements is fishing; it is not the only form of commerce that was taking place. During the 1800s Kville parish was dominated by farming, although fishing was still a significant source of income both as a profession and as a complement to a farmers income. The ‘fishermen’ during this era were mainly concerned, not with sill, but with fishing/collecting of lobster, oysters and other larger fish species for example cod (Torsk) and flatfish (Halleflundra). There were also other forms of industry that were commonplace. Craftmanship, salvage of wrecked vessels and the collection of different mosses are but to name a few.

Unfortunately our surveys did not result in any significant archaeological remains. However, within the southern survey area during the excavation of test trenches cultural layers dating from the late 1800s to modern day were uncovered. These however, since they originate after 1850, are not fornlämningar (cultural monuments).

Maybe next time…


More fishing traps in Gärsken, Alingsås

During June 2015 we were contracted by Länstryelsen to conduct a maritime archaeological survey of the southern end of lake Gärdsken, Alingsås. The city council plan to establish a pipeline from the southeastern shore several hundred meters northwest to the other side.

Previously in Gärdsken……..Previously we have conducted both a survey and preliminary investigation within the southern part of Gärdsken and its connecting tributary, Forsån. In 2009 we discovered in Forsån and its mouth a total of 13 fishing traps. In 2012 we were contracted to asses the extent and composition of the fishing traps within Forsåns mouth and delta. During this investigation we even discovered a perviously unrecorded trap; the most exciting and intact of the lot so far, it is registered in FMIS as Alingsås 281.

Alingsås 281Left: The perpidicular arm. Right: One of the catchment areas. Gainsford 2013

The above fishing trap and subsequent others located at the river mouth are commonly known in Sweden as ‘Katsa (plural Katsor)’. Katsor are stationary fishing traps that are constructed of a perpendicular arm from the shore out to deeper water  and one or more catchment areas. The arm and catchment areas are constructed av thin poles interwoven with thinner branches supported by larger piles or posts. The fish once in these catchments are unable to find their way out and can be easily fished up with nets or spear.

Katsa ClaessonClaesson 1937

In 2015 Alingsås kommun have plans to establish a waterpipe through the above mentioned area northwards. The planned route passes close to the shoreline for several hundered metres or so. This we believed was a prime area to find fishing traps. During our survey we located three small boat wrecks (modern; that is after 1850) and three new areas containing previously unknown fishing structures. Thusfar it is hard to say exactly what type of structures these areas represent; but in one instance it was possible to see a row of small poles that have probably been an arm.


Fishing traps are most probably one of the most common but also most under studied categories of archaeological sites. We will see, maybe there is the possibility for further investigations of the sites.


Claesson, E. 1937. ”Slå ut en katsa”. Ålderdomligt fiske i en Sörmlandsjö. I: Fataburen. Nordiska museets och Skansens årsbok 1937. Stockholm.

Gainsford, M. 2013. Fasta fisken i Forsån och Gärdsken. Arkeologisk förundersökning av Alingsås 264, 265, 266 & 267. Alingsås socken och kommun. Bohusläns museum rapport 2013:9. Uddevalla.

Marinarkeologi i Motala Ström, Norrköping: week 1

This week Bohusläns museums maritime archaeologists have been in Norrköping conducting an archaeological survey in Motala ström, Norrköpings hamn. The weeks plan was to map the survey area east of the bridge  using our scanning sonar and also to dig test pits along the nothern wharf at regular intervals.


Map of survey area in Norrköpings hamn

During the week we mapped the entire survey area west of the bridge with our MS1000 scanning sonar and dug 10 test pits. Diving on sonar anomalies, continued survey and test pit excavating on the western side of the bridge, will continue  during week two.

Norrköping is a city that has its beginning in the middle ages. One of the first maps we have is from Johan de Rogier which depicts close lying buildings and the 1600s castle Johannisborg.

Jean de Rogier 1636 a

Johan de Rogier, 1636

Motala ström has also been a major route for transport in to Nörrköping. This is evidenced amongst other references on a map from 1695. One can plainly see vessels that are using Motal ström for transport. Also the island below Johannisborg is called skeppsholmen. Skeppsholmen today is not an island since the passages on its northern shores have been reclaimed.

Jakob Johansson Vernsten 1695 detailjJakob Johansson Vernsten, 1695

Last but not least Norköping has had a working port from at least the early 1800s. In the map below one can see that skeppsholmen is still partly surrounded by water and that an area called ‘Gamla Varvet’, the old wharf is depicted.

Carl Erik Öhrling 1848 detailj

Carl Erik Örhling, 1848

For further reading check out these articles from Norrköpings newspapers:



That’s all for week one. Hopefully we have even more to recount next week. Untill then…..

Marinarkeologisk utredning i Säveån

During two weeks in April maritime archaeologists completed an archaeological survey of Säveån from Gamla Staden (Nya Lödöse) 1,3 km uppstream past SKF.

Fieldwork was postponed a week due to strong current. After a weeks respite it was ‘all go’ for the team. Säveåns water level was still higher than optimal for diving but it was deemed to be within resonable limits. However this was not to be the case. Several areas could not be dived during the first week of the survey since the flow was still to strong. Check out the video of archaeologist Matthew Gainsford who during week one completes a drift dive in strong current.

During week two water levels in Säveån had reduced almost to half of what they had been previously. We completed the areas that were not surveyed and set about documenting the pole structures that we had found. Dating samples were also taken of all but one structure. In the video maritime archaeologist Delia Ní Chíobhain Enkvist has just sawed of a sample for dendro analysis.

We were pleasently surprised that during the survey we located so many structures and cultural deposits. During the survey a total of six pole structures were located within the survey area. Remains of cultural deposits were located in two main areas; within the monument Göteborg 218:1 (Gamla Staden) and further upstream in an area between two ‘landerier’ that are first depicted on maps from the late 1600s.


An oak pole/pile from one of the six structures (Anläggning 6)

Ceramics from monument Göteborg 218:1

Arkeologidagen Östergötland

Torsdag den 19 februari åkte Matthew till Linköping för att presentera resultaten från den arkeologisk utredningen som vi gjorde i Stångån, Linköping maj 2014. Presentationen kan ni kika på nedan.

Prezi Stångån


Rapporten finns i Östergötlands länsmuseums rapportserier. Rapport 2014:43.

Vecka 2 – Fortsättning AU/FU Stockholm


Teamet var tillbaka i Stockholm för att fortsätta den marinarkeologisk utredning mellan Strömbron och Beckholmen, och för att påbörjar en förundersökning mellan Skeppsholmen och Blasieholmen.

Under tisdag och onsdag stökade teamet av de sista indikationerna. Vid det första indikationsdyket hittade vi en flätad korg av rotting. Tidigare har Sjöhistoriska museet under en förstudie hittat minst åtta likadana korgar vid Beckholmen. Korgarna har förmodligen använts för att transportera kol och koks till ångbåtar.


På onsdag påträffade vi en bryggliknande lämning. Lämningen bestod av grupper med stående och liggande kvadratiska pålar som reste sig max 2,5 meter ovanför bottnen. Med hjälp av en hydraulisk kedjesåg sågades fyra prov för årsringsdatering.


Också på onsdag och vid den sista och djupaste indikation vid södra Skeppsholmen hittade vi något annat spännande. Denna indikation bestod av dumpad sten i olika fraktioner. Detta dyk, med sitt relativt ringa djup (14m), var enligt dykaren som ett nattdyk; det ser man på bilden.


Torsdag och fredag började teamet med en okulär avsökning av förundersökningsområdet mellan Skeppsholmen och Blasieholmen. Sikten och strömmen var ganska okej dock försvårades dykningarna av alla äldre pålar, dykdalber och förtöjningar. Till slut började det flyta på och vi lyckades bocka av det som skulle göras. Under avsökningen påträffades flera pålar som förmodligen har några år på nacken. En liten eka påträffades också. Denna lämning syntes inte på den tidigare sonardatat. Eken ligger på den befintliga vattenledning som syns på vår scanning sonar bilden nedan.

eka scanning

Avsökningen på fredagen nådde fram till den gamla brolämningen som förundersöktes redan i slutet av 1990-talet. Under dyket påträffades pålar från den äldre Skeppsholmsbron.

Hedvigsholmen AU

Hedvigsholmen AUVecka 36 var Matt, Delia och Staffan återigen i Marstrand (vid Hedvigsholmen) för ännu en utredning. Teamet hade höga förhoppningar eftersom vi oftast påträffar någon form av lämning vid Marstrand. Men denna utredning gav magert resultat. Vi påträffade lite rester efter kulturlager och barlast men inget mer omfattande. Området har använt i sen tid som bland annat varv.