Scandinavian village in western Poland unearthed

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Archaeologists from the University of Warsaw and the National Museum in Szczecin began the second season of excavations in Suchań, Western Pomerania. This is the place where settlers from Bornholm arrived 1500 years ago.

Scandinavian village in western Poland unearthed
Excavations at Suchań [Credit: Migration Period between Odra and Vistula project]

Excavations covered the central part of the settlement, in the region of the strongest anomalies geophysical surveys had shown. Therefore, archaeologists hope for discoveries in the form of ancient architecture – half-dugouts.

The site was found accidentally in 2006. The discoverer saw treasure on the surface in the form of bracteates – thin, single-sided coins, metal pendants and a ring. After the objects were handed over to researchers it turned out that identical monuments have been found on Bornholm, Zealand and in south-eastern Sweden, and they are evidence of the presence of Scandinavian settlers in Western Pomerania.

“Not only the inventory indicates that the village was inhabited by settlers from the north. In the immediate vicinity there are beats several springs, which is quite a typical landscape for the cult of deposits from the Migration Period in Scandinavia” – believes Prof. Aleksander Bursche, leader of the project Maestro NCN “Migration Period in the Oder and Vistula drainage basin”, which includes excavations in Suchań.

Scandinavian village in western Poland unearthed
The Deposit from Suchań [Credit: K. Kowalski, collection of National Museum in Szczecin]

Archaeologists appeared on site in the same year. They performed aerial and geophysical surveys. The objective was to determine the precise location of the settlement and additional parts of the treasure. It turned out that the area was inhabited for hundreds of years, as is evidenced by discovered objects.

So far, the most interesting discovery for scientists are Scandinavian bracteates (type C). They bear a stylised image of a rider on horseback. In the rim there is a rune inscription, and below the horse’s head – swastika motif. According to the researchers, the image refers to the figure of Roman emperor on horseback, known from solids, gold medallions and their copies occurring in the Barbaricum areas, east of the Rhine and north of the Danube, beyond the borders of the Empire. This motif is sometimes identified as the figure of the god Odin on horse Sleipnir, known from Norse mythology.

“Findings to date suggest a very significant infiltration of Scandinavian elites from the area of southern Sweden and Bornholm to the areas of Western Pomerania in Late Antiquity, which probably were the point of origin of the later Viking influence in these areas” – argues Prof. Bursche.

Scandinavian village in western Poland unearthed
Suchań, cruciform brooch [Credit: M. Bogacki]

After completion of the excavations, in the middle of October the National Museum in Szczecin (which is also a research partner) plans an exhibition entitled “Treasures of Suchań”.

For more information visit the Migration Period between Odra and Vistula project website.

Source: PAP – Science and Scholarship in Poland [September 03, 2014]

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