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Fieldwork on Thorsberg Moor (completed)

Dr. Ruth Blankenfeldt

Thorsberg Moor, in Süderbrarup parish, Schleswig-Flensburg district, is today a kidney-shaped water-filled basin with an elongated island in its eastern part. At the time of the excavations carried out between 1858 and 1861, the moor had, according to information from the excavator C. Engelhardt, almost completely dried out. However, due to technical problems arising from ever increasing waterlogging in the deeper layers, it was not possible for him to excavate all the archaeological layers down to the find-free zone. Moreover, stabilising profile-balks were left standing within the excavation trench, and it must be presumed that some artefacts also remain within the archaeologically investigated areas. Similar assumptions could be verified through subsequent re-excavation of the war booty site at Nydam, also first excavated by Engelhardt.

In the period between 29th June and 2nd July 2009, investigations were therefore carried out at Thorsberg Moor. The aim of which was to detect any remaining objects in the previously excavated area. This work was made possible first of all by the support by Dr S. Hartz, Archäologisches Landesmuseum in Schleswig and Dr H. Usinger, Botanical Institute of the CAU in Kiel, as well as with the aid of equipment borrowed from Archäologisches Landesamt Schleswig-Holstein.

Thorsberg 2010

Thorsberg 2010 Floss

On the basis of surveys carried out in 2006 and 2007, as well as the output from a GIS project arranged by ZBSA colleague K. Göbel, in which archive records were added to current and earlier plans and sketches by the excavator, there now exists a relatively accurate knowledge of information concerning the location of Engelhardt’s now submerged excavation trench. Above this, a raft was anchored, and by the use of a technique normally employed in marine archaeology, sediment was brought up by injector pump and directly washed through a sieve.

Already after a short period of ‘suction’ using this technique it proved possible to recover an ornamented fitting from a horse’s harness from a depth of around 3 m; this artefact is of a form represented by eight examples recovered during the earlier excavation.

Thorsberg 2010 Find

Further finds from the sieved material, which likewise can linked to the offerings of Roman Iron Age, include a bronze rivet, two bronze chain links, a terminal knob, boss or pommel – probably from a sword grip hilt, several potsherds as well as 20 fragments of lance and spear shafts.

Thorsberg Bohrkerne

In parallel with the suction work an drilling survey was carried out over the area of the present-day island with its presumably undisturbed archaeological layers. This provided information concerning the structure and utilisation of Thorsberg Moor as a sacrificial site. As a specialist in this field, it was possible to gain the assistance of Dr H. Usinger of the Botanical Institute of the CAU in Kiel who, together with Dr W. Dörfler of the Institute of Prehistory and Early Historic Times of the CAU in Kiel, carried out the botanical analysis of the resulting cores.

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