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Ancient swordsman’s grave could hold many more secrets

Archaeologists now believe the site in Janakkala, southern Finland, where a remarkable medieval warrior was discovered last year could be an ancient burial ground or settlement. The National Board of Antiquities says it may begin wider and deeper excavations.

Kolme miestä kävelee laitteineen sänkipellolla
Arkeologi Tim Sutherland teki syyskuun puolessa välissä Janakkalassa maavastusmittausta. Dokumenttia kuvasi samaan aikaan Jeremy Freeston. Miesten työskentelyä seurasi Museoviraston tutkija Simo Vanhatalo. Image: Museovirasto / Satu Koivisto

The National Board of Antiquities has announced plans to carry out further, deeper excavations at the site where the grave of a thousand-year-old swordsman was discovered last year.

Earlier this month archaeologists from York University in the UK carried out geophysical surveys of the field, accompanied by a television film crew.

The preliminary results of the tests suggest widespread evidence of human activity remains deep beneath the surface of the field. Some signs point to the area housing an ancient burial ground or even a settlement.

The York team carried out a series of geophysical tests using equipment including a pulse-induction metal detector and a magnetometer. The results also showed possible signs of roads and fields dating from different eras, as well as more modern structures such as covered drains and the edges of a sandpit.

Archaeology hobbyists were stunned last November when they unearthed a remarkable historical find from a field in Janakkala, southern Finland. The ancient grave site appeared to be that of an early crusader buried with two swords from different eras. Subsequent scans of the skeleton by the National Board of Antiquities suggested that the so-called ancient swordsman had met a violent death.

The board says it is waiting for further analysis of the York test results, announcing that it may choose to go ahead with further digs at a number of interesting spots at the site. Archaeologists now want to find out what exactly it is that is showing up on the deeper surveys.

The board added that further research is necessary in order to determine the extent of the ancient remains and ascertain whether the area requires protection. If the survey results turn out to be sufficiently reliable, similar technology may be used on other archaeological sites in Finland, the board said.

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