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Preserving Rural Settlement Sites in Norway? Investigations of Archaeological Deposits in a Changing Climate

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... The importance of cultural heritage is stressed in several international conventions (e.g., UNESCO 1972; Council of Europe 1992) and described as sources of collective memory as well as instruments for historical and scientific studies. However, there are and have been on-going discussions on site preservation (e.g., Willems 2008;Hollesen and Matthiesen, 2015;Martens, 2016). The CULTCOAST project aims to assess the possibilities for the long-term preservation of legally protected archaeological and built cultural heritage sites in the context of geo-hazards caused by changing climate conditions, and to suggest innovative tools for risk assessment, mapping, evaluating, prioritising, mitigation/adaptation, and sustainable management of heritage sites. ...
... Environmental monitoring of archaeological deposits has been carried out in Norway for a several decades, the first project in the medieval town of Trondheim started in 1996 (Peacock 2002;Petersén & Bergersen 2012), followed by a site in the medieval town Tønsberg in 1999 (Reed & Martens 2008), and the largest Norwegian urban monitoring project started at the World Heritage Site Bryggen in Bergen in 2000 (Matthiesen 2004;Rytter & Schonhowd 2015). Some monitoring has been performed in Oslo (Martens et al., 2012) and at a few heritage sites outside urban settings (Martens & Bergersen 2015;Martens 2016). These latter started our work on how climate change might impact in situ site heritage protection in the Nordic countries the future, and a concern about already visible impacts on sites. ...
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The CULTCOAST research project has installed environmental monitoring equipment at two cultural heritage sites in northern Norway: one at the coal mine site of Hiorthhamn on Svalbard, one at the settlement mound site Sjåberget on Andøya in Nordland County. Both these coastal heritage sites are situated north of the Arctic circle, in the areas most impacted by climate change. Whereas the global temperature increase since 1970 is just above 1°C, in Svalbard the increase is now 4°C. This is the first example of using this specific type of sensors to monitor the ongoing changes and their possible impacts on preservation of heritage sites.
... Implementation of the first two options is meaningless if their efficacy is not checked periodically through regular site visits and monitoring. Although monitoring will help to provide a stronger knowledge base for protection, we currently lack a full understanding of which parameters have the greatest effect on preservation conditions and therefore of how to set threshold values for when intervention is required (Martens 2016). Furthermore, site visits and monitoring come with high costs, especially in those parts of the world that are less accessible, such as the Arctic, mountainous regions and underwater. ...
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Climate change is affecting archaeological sites and landscapes around the world. Increased rainfall, more frequent extreme weather events, higher temperatures and rising seas not only create new risks but also exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and threats. Building on an earlier Antiquity article that explored climate change and arctic archaeology (Hollesen et al. 2018), this special section provides a global perspective on the impact of climate change on archaeological sites and landscapes and how archaeologists and cultural heritage managers are responding. This article introduces the following three contributions, outlining their main findings to provide an overview of the various challenges around the world, and highlighting current gaps in knowledge and future research opportunities.
... The collected data will help to provide a stronger knowledge base for protection and mitigation strategies (Rytter & Schonhowd 2015;Sidell & Panter 2016). We currently lack a full understanding of which parameters have the most effect on preservation conditions and therefore of how to set threshold values for when to respond (Martens 2016). Although there are many examples of different mitigation measures being applied to protect archaeological deposits from erosion, microbial degradation and vegetation increase (e.g. ...
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The cold, wet climate of the Arctic has led to the extraordinary preservation of archaeological sites and materials that offer important contributions to the understanding of our common cultural and ecological history. This potential, however, is quickly disappearing due to climaterelated variables, including the intensification of permafrost thaw and coastal erosion, which are damaging and destroying a wide range of cultural and environmental archives around the Arctic. In providing an overview of the most important effects of climate change in this region and on archaeological sites, the authors propose the next generation of research and response strategies, and suggest how to capitalise on existing successful connections among research communities and between researchers and the public.
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The subject of the thesis is presentation and analysis of the approach to cultural heritage care and the restoration of tangible cultural heritage in Norway in theoretical, practical and legal strategies. Norwegian attitude, the methodological and theoretical basis, will be continuously compared with the situation in the Czech Republic. The methodological part of the thesis will define the basic concepts of the care of monuments and their importance in the Nordic and Central European conception. The following parts of the work will present the characteristics of the Norwegian monument fund, the risks that threaten the existence of the historical material assets and the institutional background that contributes to the protection and use of cultural objects. The thesis will also include comparison of the legislative support, which regulates and defines the public relations to monumental objects in Norway and in the Czech Republic. The work will introduce selected examples that will practically document and describe methodological and theoretical frameworks. The aim of the work will be to open a discussion on improving cultural heritage care and possible inspiration of Czech heritage care in Norwegian standards and vice versa.
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Moi in Setesdal, Southern Norway: Settlement from late Bronze Age through to early Middle Ages – different versions of the same farm? This paper presents the results from a dig at the infields of the farm Moi in the municipality of Bygland, Setesdal valley in Aust-Agder county, Southern Norway. The excavation took place due to a planned upgrade of the road through the valley. In spite of a narrow area of investigation, the site yielded traces of as much as about ten buildings, all with earth-dug posts. These buildings seem to represent a continuous farm settlement all the way from late Bronze Age through to the early Middle Ages (except the Pre-Roman Iron Age). Yet, seemingly no two of the farms are contemporary. A large Roman Iron Age longhouse surrounded by cooking pits and traces of metal working, and a later farm with i.a. a three-aisled longhouse with convex walls are the most prominent finds. The latter was in use from the Viking Age until c. 1300, a period of major shifts at several social levels. It is suggested that the various settlement phases at Moi are traces of the very same farm unit throughout a long continuum. Around the Black Death the farm was probably abandoned. The farm was then rebuilt near by in the late 16th century, at the latest, and parts of this farm are still standing. In sharp contrast to the rich grave finds from this period, the Viking Age settlement in Norway is – surprisingly enough – not particularly well known. Hence, Moi represents a rare glimpse into this, and sheds new light on the many grave finds in the area. The paper further discusses the architectonic changes that took place in Norway in the transition between the Viking Age and the Middle Ages.
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This paper presents archaeological observations and results of palaeoecological and geo-chemical analyses of archaeological deposits from two rural sites in northernmost Norway. These are combined with climate data and the first period of continuous monitoring of soil temperature, moisture, and redox potential in sections. This data constitutes the basic research material for evaluations of conservation state and preservation conditions. The data has been collected in collaboration with the partners of a cross-disciplinary project: ‘Archaeological Deposits in a Changing Climate. In situ Preservation of Farm Mounds in Northern Norway’ funded by the Norwegian Council for Research (http://www.niku.no/en/archaeology/environmental_monitoring/archaeological_deposits_in_a_changing_climate_in_situ_preservation_of_farm_mounds/). This is an important Norwegian research initiative on monitoring of rural archaeological deposits, and the results have consequences for heritage management of a large number of sites from all periods. Palaeoecological analyses and redox measurements have revealed ongoing decay that might not otherwise have been detected. Decay studies indicate that both site types may be at risk with the predicted climate change. Some mitigating acts are suggested.
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Farm mounds – built-up archaeological deposits from long term rural settlements at fixed sites – is a characteristic of the medieval rural settlement in Northern Norway, the Norse settlements on the North Atlantic Islands, the south west coast line of the North Sea and the Iron Age settlements in Northwest Jutland. The main elements of the farm mound deposits are house remains from houses built of wood and turf sods, and general household waste. A farm mound or settlement mound may support only a single farm, or several farms or holdings. In the present paper, the North Norwegian farm mounds are compared to the medieval rural settlement in Eastern Norway and to the Iron Age settlement mounds of North Jutland. It is argued that the formation of settlement mounds is a result of both social structures and economic strategies, the mounds representing an economical emphasis on husbandry in combination with fishing and other non-agricultural resources.
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The definition of island marginality in northern Norway was radically altered by the advent of motorized fishing vessels in the early twentieth century. Prior to this development, small offshore islands were of central importance for marine related activity due to their proximity to fishing grounds. This article presents four settlements on small and “marginal” islands in Arctic Norway from 68°19’ to 71°05’ N latitude as cases that illustrate the centrality of such locations in a maritime context since the Viking Age (AD 800–1050). Although the islands are situated in exposed locations that appear inhospitable and barren, they were the focus of fishing activity spanning nearly a millennium from the medieval period (AD 1050–1540) through the nineteenth century. Settlement mounds are a distinctive northern Norwegian coastal site type where favorable conditions have resulted in the accumulation of substantial cultural deposits from long-term use and occupation of specific locations. Results of recent mound site excavations from each of the four island settlements are reviewed in relation to the insights they provide into small island contexts linked to larger networks of maritime interaction.
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In the Netherlands, the public is and has always been quite interested in archaeology. Dutch archaeologists primarily answer this interest by inviting the audience to experience archaeology via open days, exhibitions, books, and so on. There is, however, little inclusion and active participation of the public in the actual fieldwork and in knowledge production. There are no community archaeology projects as they exist in, for instance, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, in which (part of) the control in fieldwork lies in the hands of the participants and in which multiple voices are included in research planning, design, and interpretation. Our engagement with the public only allows for passive engagement. It is mainly about informing, educating, and entertaining people, it has little to do with concepts like inclusiveness, empowerment, multivocality, or with the democratization of knowledge production. Even though there are both practical and historic reasons for this current practice of public engagement, it is increasingly being acknowledged by members of the archaeological community that it is no longer the answer to the modern day societal wishes and needs. The main aim of this article therefore is to explore the possibilities of a more collaborative and participatory archaeology in the Netherlands and to contribute to its development by discussing suggestions for future approaches.