2021 have been good so far and we have made it to February. The snow is still covering Scandinavia, and if you didn’t know, Scandinavians love to talk about the weather, hence why you will probably get a short weather report on each editor’s pick.
February is known for being the shortest month of the year, and we pray it will pass smoothly so we can get as far away from 2020 as possible without any hiccups.
February is also the month for löööve. Yes, that is right, Valentine’s day is upon us and we hope you find a nice way to celebrate it, with a partner, by yourself, or over zoom with fiends and maybe one too many bottles of wine. All those options sound good to us!
And also, for Swedes, February is the month of the delicious and heavenly Semla; a type of pastry made of a bun with almond paste and whipped cream. We LOVE them and according to tradition, you stuff yourself full of them to… well, fat yourself up before the fast (which no one does anymore, we just eat the Semla like there is no tomorrow). We even had a king, who, according to legend, died by eating too many Semlas. What a way to go indeed. In Norway and Denmark, they also eat Semla (who can resist it) but they switch out the almond paste for jam or vanilla cream instead. We say yes, almost regardless of filling!
The Semla tradition is long and the first Semla that is depicted is on a 13th century mural in a church, but different variations of Semla have been eaten in the north long before the Christianization. The modern way the Semla looks and taste like came to be during the 19th century tough.
So, there you go, a history lesson in Swedish pastry, something else we love to talk about.
Enjoy the pick’s!
Lovisa & Elfrida
The Movie of the Month – The Dig
This month’s move is the old classic – India…. Nooo, we are joking! Off course it is The Dig! It is like porn to us. We wouldn’t mind if it was the length of the LOTR trilogy with the additional pumped out Bilbo movies too, we would binge watch that beautiful beast over and over.
For those of you who have not seen The Dig yet – how are you prioritizing your time? Like really?!
Well, the movie is about the Sutton Hoo dig which is the greatest archaeological find in British soil. Sutton Hoo is a masterpiece of a chieftain ship burial with the most exquisite grave goods in gold and garnets (currently having a mini stroke just thinking about how magnificent those things are). The Dig depicts the problem the dig had to face, both by the current time’s bureaucracy, WWII, and the archaeologist personal issues. Together they make a marvelous story, not so much about the grave, but just as the title say, the dig. Ah, how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall just to see the grave unravel. The movie gives you a glimpse of what is must have been like.
I believe all archaeologist who have seen it felt the same way we did: it reminded us once again why we became archaeologists. Such a wonderful world there is, hidden under layers of soil. For those of you who are not archaeologist I bet you reconsidered your career choices while watching The Dig.
The book of the Month – The Viking ship
The book of the month rides on the wave of “the dig”. Well, almost everything this month is because it is truly something memorizing with the whole concept of being buried in a boat. Oh, quick “crushing your Viking view” btw, the Vikings did not set their ships out to sea and then set fire to them, sorry. Long story short, to do so is very problematic if not even impossible and very unpractical. No, the Vikings dragged the ship up on land, buried the dead in it, and covered it with stone and dirt, turning it into a mound. Sometimes they set fire to the ship, but on land, not the sea.
If you are interested in knowing more about Viking ships, the British Museum have a very nice little book called The Viking Ship by Gareth Williams who will give you the basic introduction you need into the seafaring world of Viking and their ships.
Oh, and if you have any questions about ship burials, write to us. Ship burials are our Editor-in-chief Lovisa’s specialization and she would love to answer any question you might have. Maybe enough questions will turn into a Q&A?!
The book of the Month 2 – Treasures of Sutton Hoo
This month, we will actually include two books in our Editor’s Pick. Why? Because we think Sutton Hoo deserves it. Therefore, we encourage you to pick up Treasures from Sutton Hoo by… yes, of course, the all-knowing Gareth Williams mentioned above. Two books, by the same author, both published by The British Museum. It is 47 pages long and does not only include interesting information about the dig, the burial construction, and who might be the person buried in the mound, it also offers L-O-V-E-L-Y and beautiful pictures from the dig, as well as of some of the artefacts. You can thank us later, because these books will not disappoint you and we know you will enjoy it just as much as we do!
The Tea of the Month – Kränku’s Semla tea
Okey, so you need something hot to drink in this cold weather when you are watching The Dig and reading the books, and what is better than a tea that taste like a Semla? No, really?! I mean, they are amazing to eat, but you can only eat so much until you become full. Therefore, a great way to be able to continue consuming its delicious flavor is by drinking it, as a hot beverage! Can our sweet tooth ask for more?
Buy yours form out favorite tea shop Kränku!
Instagram of the month – Uttaharjar
Okey, the hype is still strong. We want to know more about Sutton Hoo and the Vendel period the grave belongs to.
Luckily, the world is filled with talented reenactors who can give us an idea what these magnificent warriors once might have looked like. With skill and precision, they create the outfit and weaponry in a manner they think it could have looked like 1500 years ago. And we are stunned. The reenactors focus on the Vendel period (500-750 B.C.) which is the period before the Viking age, and it is lavish to say the least. The mellow grey and black leather clothing with metal studs and fur collars you are used to see the Vikings in? Forget all that. The reality is far from what the popular media paints. The somewhat forgotten Vendel period is exploding in color and splendor, being the true bling bling era of Scandinavia. The reenactors of Uttaharjar does an amazing job in portraying as accurate as possible the individuals from the Vendel period. In and enjoy their Instagram and see the prehistoric in color!
The To Do of the Month – Valentine’s Day
Sooo, what could one do for, or with, an archaeologist during February 14th? Well, first of all, you could watch The Dig and read the books mentioned above. Even though Indiana Jones might be another option, we do not recommend watching this month’s movie to learn about, or get to know, archaeology as a practice (he is as much an archaeologist as Batman, to be honest, but we still have a soft spot for Indie).
For Valentine’s day, we recommend you and your loved one (or maybe your best friend or a family member, whoever you want to celebrate with) to go out to chase monuments, or maybe visit that old church ruin you have wanted to visit for years and years. Go outside and enjoy your local landscape and make it into a sightseeing, maybe you will notice new things in your neighborhood? History might be closer than you think! Remember to bring fika (the Swedish word for taking a break with coffee or tea and a complimentary snack in form of pastries, buns, or cake (or Semla)) on your small journey! A day outside of your home during these isolating covid-times, with your loved one, AND fika? We could not think of anything better!
Treat of the Month – Colouring template
And last but not least, out treat to you.
Our editor-in-chief is working hard to gain new skills in the art era and have made a new painting template four our lovely readers in the spirit of Sutton Hoo.
Can you see what items from Sutton Hoo that have been used?
Download it here:
Keep in mind this picture is made for private use only and are copyrighted and it is not allowed to share or use the picture other than its original purpose.
We are finally heading towards lighter times as the weather gets colder and most of Scandinavia at the minimum now have a thin layer of snow. The winter solstice, as well as Christmas and new years is past us and we have a new year to embrace.
We at Scandinavian Archaeology have a lot of exciting plans for the coming year, and fingers crossed, we might even be able to do some field trips for you guys if the pandemic situation let us. We editors take the situation very seriously and are both working and are staying at home as much as we can even tough our adventure hearts are itching.
But good thing we have internet, because that gives us the possibility to explore from the convenience at home. We hope we can bring you lots of interesting reads the coming year to maybe give you a little help, happiness, and knowledge in these still dark times.
And as a reminder before we dive into this month’s goodies; if you have an interesting topic that you cannot get out of your head, or you have all this very interesting and exiting facts you just are sitting on – write to us! We would love to hear, and we will help you write an article about it!
So, with that said, let’s get into this month’s Editor’s Pick!
/ Lovisa & Elfrida
We start off with a treat to all our old and new readers as a celebration of the new year. Our editor-in-chief have started a new project and what to share a sneak peek with you all.
Free of charge you can now get a coloring book template depicting a combination of rune stone patterns from the Swedish island Öland.
We hope you enjoy, and you are most welcome to give feedback.
Keep in mind this picture is made for private use only and are copyrighted and is not allowed to be shared or used other than its original purpose.
Download the PDF here:OlandLadda ner
First out is this month’s Instagram! As you might have noticed we have had some co-lab with Helena Hals, the person behind the Instagram account Viking.Helena. Although we have featured her in both an interview and through an article, she wrote for us, it feels like closing the circle with having her as this year’s first Editor’s pick Instagram.
Helena is a historian with passion for retelling the past through reenactment – a way of making history come to life again. We at Scandinavian Archaeology love that initiative and appreciate historians taking a closer look at the archaeological materials. Interdisciplinary science at its best! Check her Instagram and site out, or buy her remarkably interesting and informative book here:
The book of this month will be non the less than Neil Price’s new book The Children of Ash & Elm. This book is new addition to the Editor’s bookshelves, and even though none of us have finished it yet, it is, as everything from professor Price, captivating. If you wish to know more about the Vikings in a refreshing new way written in a wonderful narrative, well, this is the book for you. It highlights the Viking world and expansions before Lindisfarne in 793, challenging the stereotypical view of the Vikings with the vivid depicturing of the Norse spirit-world, identity, gender, and knowledge of the people. Or as it is described in the ingress: He [Price] cuts through centuries of received wisdom to try to see the Vikings as they saw themselves – descendance of the first human couple, the Children of Ash and Elm. We think you should pick it up ASAP!
This month we actually want to recommend to you not only one tea, but a rather small business making them. For those who ever visited the island of Gotland in Sweden, you probably walked by or even in to Kränku. They provide both tea, coffee, mugs, chocolate… everything you could ever wish for when it comes to drink hot beverages. As two former island citizens, we just love Kränku and have experienced the high quality of their products. You can find them over at http://kraenku.se. We are not totally sure if they ship world-wide but take a look and make your best decision so far this year and order some tasty tea or coffee!
The Editor’s favorite teas:
Lovisa: Arvet – http://www.kraenku.se/shop/egna-teblandningar/arvet.html
Elfrida: Kalstensdrömmar –
An archaeologist must have
January is a cold month in the North. This week a great part of Sweden even has had some snowfall. Therefore, we recommend everyone, not only archaeologists, to invest in some warm, cozy undergarment to keep warm while visiting nature or working in the field. We are talking long-Johns and a matching sweater. Layers, layers, layers! It does not have to look pretty, as long as it is the most comfortable thing you have ever wore in your life!
If your budget allows it, you can invest in a fancy pair of silk long-Johns, perhaps from Siden Selma?
Otherwise, a good pair from your local sport store will very well do the job! (but order online
Ahh, what is life without music? This month we would like to toot the horn for the Icelandic band Sigur Rós for those of you who have missed them. They make the most wonderful, dreamiest music. When you die and travel the rainbow road to Vallhalla, it is Sigur Rós Hoppípolla that will be the theme song for that journey. The very down to earth band makes post-rock music with classical influences as well as more experimental elements, but hey are almost their own genre. Nothing sounds quite like them, and you could listen for hours and hours. All the songs are sung in Icelandic or sometimes their own made up language hopelandic which was created as part of their musical creating progress and are mostly used by the singer Jónsi before they have written the lyrics. You can listen for hours and the music varies between light and airy to dark and dystopic.
Let Sigur Rós take you with them into their dreamy world on Iceland:
Since we all are stuck at home most of the time, it is good to snuggle up with your long-Johns and your steaming hot cup of tea to a good movie. And this month we will recommend an old goodie – The Mummy! Yes, we know you probably have seen it like a thousand times because who cannot resist a good romanticized adventure with Brendan Fraser in his Prime and Rachel Weisz (still in her prime). Even tough it is not Scandinavian archaeology and Viking skeletons hunting them, but is set in the beginning of the 20th century Egypt, we love it and it holds all the classical elements for a good adventure romantic comedy we need such as a good story line, well preforming actors, nice plots and off course, the sense of adventure. Do we crave anything more now when we have been held indoors for so long?
And you need some snacks to the movie too! And we have the thing for you! Swedish Chocolate balls. Yes, we know. The name is very funny but trust us; it has gotten waaaaaaaaaay better that what is was called some decades ago. Anyways, they are delicious and super easy to make. It does not require any kitchen appliances, not even cooker or oven.
Here is what you need to make them:
100 g butter (3.5 oz)
1 dl sugar (0.4 cups)
3 msk cacao
3 msk cold, stong coffee
3 dl rolled oats (1.3 cups)
Topping: Pärlsocker or Desiccated coconut
Just add all the ingredients into a bowl and mix it with your hands or a mixer of your choosing. The only thing might be to let the butter be room temperature. It makes it way easier to work with.
When you have a smooth paste, roll them into balls the size of… balls? Roll the balls in pärlsocker (pearl sugar) or the coconut. Let them rest in the refrigerator about 30 min or eat them right away. Delicious.
If you with to do them fancy, feel free to dip them into melted chocolate or even just roll them in cacao.
Winter is coming and December is upon us. This is a joyful time for most people around the world, but for us in the north it is something extra. We decorate out houses with lights to bright up the darkness, our homes is staring to be filled with the scents of festive food we only eat once a year and if we are lucky we get lots of white, twinkling snow, making it once again light around the clock, just as during summer.
This is the month we also introduce Editor’s pick for you! It is a list of bits and bobs we like to share with you. Everything from Instagram accounts we like a little extra, to books, documentaries and news, as well as good things to have (or give) to an archaeologist or fans of the North.
We hope you will enjoy it and find some inspiration during this cozy time of the year. And we got an extra treat for you readers as well. The book of the month will have a 15 % discount with voucher SA15!
One account we like a bit extra, as well as the place it is representing is Birkavikingastaden.
Birkavikingastaden is the official Instagram account for Birka; the Viking city, home to the famous warrior woman. They do not only post about Birka and fun activities happing in at the island, but also writes about relating topics regarding the Viking age, always in a nice manner and in both Swedish and English. We really enjoy it and if you do not follow the account, yet we recommend you to! You will get new exiting facts and fun events right in your feed.
We are very happy to announce a co:lab we are having in which we this month want to recommend to you a book written by Helena Hals: An Iron Age Farm on the Coast of Northern Norway. Helena discovers the past and bring the reader on a journey through the Northern parts of Norway. We make a stop in Bleik where both Norse populations as well as the indigenous Sámi once created a life for themselves, and their past actions are still to be seen in the surrounding landscape. The book is self-published, and it is a lovely piece well worth a read. In cooperation with Helena, Scandinavian Archaeology were honored to offer our readers a 15% discount when buying the book with the code SA15. A perfect gift for yourself or someone you appreciate a bit extra!
Read more about Helena here: https://www.vikinghelena.com/about
Buy the book via this link: https://www.vikingsofthenorth.com/product-page/resource-utilisation-at-the-iron-age-settlement-of-bleik-in-andøy
Something all archaeologist have in common all around the world is their love for tea break, preferably with biscuits (although we Scandinavians mainly drink coffee). This month’s tea is, in true Christmas spirit, Clippers Organic Indian Chai Black Tea. A tasty, organic and rather cheap chai tea with a lot of taste. Preferably served with a spoon of honey and a dash of cream. Enjoy!
An archaeologist must have
We have spied with our little eye something for all field archaeologists out there. While in field, writing and drawing could be hard during wet days. The Scandinavian weather are, to say the least, unpredictable. Rain, snow and mud are all common features during the different seasons, and yet the work must be done. Therefore, we want to name this month’s field product Rite in the Rain. Their waterproof and mud resistant products are a must have for the field archaeologist! Check out their website for high quality notepads, papers and pens. Let it snow?!
And during and after the dig, exposed to all kinds of weather, we know the importance of self-care. During summer sunscreen is an archaeologist best friend, but during the rough winter weather, hand cream and a good lip balm is what is closest to our hearts. We love the Danish eco brand Urtekram and their amazing, yet still very affordable products, especially their hand crème Nordic birch which contains strengthening birch leaf extract.
To prevent our lips from cracking in the cold winds of winter we use Burt’s Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm who feels like a conditioner for the lips. This little stick is cheap, easy to carry around in the pocket, and it is unisex, so it works for everyone.