Archaeologists excavate 400 Iron Age houses in Denmark
Esben Klinker Hansen
The town of Jelling in Denmark is a unique archaeological treasure trove, with sites such as Jelling Church, the Jelling runic Stone, and two large burial mounds. Now, archaeologists have excavated an entire Iron Age (early Medieval) village. “We have had the opportunity to excavate almost 400 houses over six hectares. I think it’s truly special to find a village where one house is replaced by a new one several times and especially the fact that we have excavated the houses in one large coherent area” says Katrine Balsgaard Juul, archaeologist and museum curator at The Vejle Museums (VejleMuseerne) in Southern Denmark. The village covers an area equal to nine football pitches and was constructed in multiple periods of the Iron Age. All of the houses are dated to between 300 and 600 CE and Juul estimates that the area consisted of between eight and ten farms. Archaeologist Stine Vestergaard Laursen, who is not involved in the excavation, describes the site as “spectacular.” “Finding these types of settlements is not unheard of, but it’s unique to find them on this scale,” says Laursen, museum curator at Moesgaard Museum, Denmark. The houses are primarily wooden and measure, on average, 33 metres long by 5.5 metres wide. Juul suspects that all the residents were farmers who worked the land. Objects discovered on site suggest that some were skilled in iron and pottery production, which were typical of the period. Archaeologists are now studying the houses closely in the hopes of discovering more about this relatively unknown period in Jelling's history, before it became a centre of power under King Harold Bluetooth in the 10th century.