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Beyond the Lendbreen Ice Patch

Featured Image: View on Galdhøpiggen, the highest mountain top in Norway. It lies just one valley away from the mountain range with the Lendbreen Ice Patch (Pixabay | Geir Ormseth).

Since the publication of the article in Antiquity last year, archaeologists have uncovered more artefacts on The Lendbreen Ice Patch, and they have gone in search of the rest of the trail that crosses the pass.

Summer farms at Neto

Based on the findings until last year, researchers already assumed that the pass at Lendbreen was perhaps part of a larger trade route during the medieval period. And indeed, they discovered more when they followed the trail over and beyond the pass. Stone markings led the way toward local summer farms, but then rose above. The dense vegetation makes it difficult to detect ancient ruins of buildings. They found twenty-one structures and clear one of them to get a sense of the house. A summer farm was divided into living spaces for the family and cattle. Radio-carbon dating of two houses hit the proverbial nail on the head… all samples date 750-1150 CE. This confirms a Viking Age settlement at Neto.

The intention of the archaeologists is to discover the rest of the trail (all the way to the fjords?), where the settlements along the trails are, and to learn how the route functioned in the local community.

More than just Viking Age

Just before you think this whole trail only existed in the Viking Age… it didn’t. Archaeologists post photos of bows and arrows from the Early Bronze Age, and more recently of a mysterious pinewood box. Lab results showed that a beeswax candle was inside the box and that they date back to the late medieval period. This coincides with a local tradition called seterbruk. Farmers took these candles along with them when travelling from their main farms to the summer farms. Because these candles were expensive they were protected by a bundle of branches, or in this case, a box (see also Archaeologie Online [Dutch language]).

See the original story on Secrets of the Ice and a fine article on Smithsonian Magazine.

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