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Book: Early Economy and Settlement in Northern Europe

Chapter: The Pioneer Settlement of Southwestern Norway: A Case Study

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.30735


This case study discusses the results of investigations of a settlement complex in southwestern Norway form the early pioneer settlement phase, which is prior to 9500 BP (8800 cal. BC). On the island of Hundvåg, Rogaland county, a large area was exposed mechanically, and this method enabled the identification of several sites within a limited area. The sites represent remains of single-phase occupations, and give an interesting insight into the micro-level organisation. The settlements will be presented through visual spatial analyses in order to illustrate similarities and differences among them. This, and other, similar settlement complexes are interesting both in terms of settlement organisation and group size. Furthermore, they raise interesting questions regarding durations of settlement and the degree of mobility.

The colonisation of the coastal areas of Norway was very rapid, and the whole coastline seems to have been settled around 10,000-9500 BP (9500-8800 cal. BC). The colonisation process is traced through early 14C dates and homogenous typological, archaeological material (e.g., Bang-Andersen 1996, Bjerck 2008a, Fuglestvedt 2009). The majority of sites from the Early Mesolithic are coastal, primarily insular, but in several places on the west coast, including Rogaland County, some settlements have been found in the mountains and in the inner fjord areas (Bang-Andersen 2003b). Taking a wider view of the topographical locations of these settlements, however, it becomes apparent that Early Mesolithic colonisation was closely tied to the shoreline (e.g., Nummedal 1923, Bang-Andersen 2003b, Nærøy 2000, Svendsen 2007, Bjerck 2008a).

The campsites in the present day landscape are first and foremost characterised by stone tools and debris from their manufacture. In some locations, tent circles, hearths or cleared areas, indicating remnants of tent circles or wind breaks, have been discovered (e.g., Nærøy 2000, Tørhaug and Åstveit 2000, Bang-Andersen 2003a, Bjerck 2008b, Fretheim et al., this volume). However, these are exceptions, and the Preboreal settlements are largely absent of structures. Because of this, stone artefacts and their spatial distribution are our main basis for the interpretation of social structure and dynamics.

Chapter Contributors

  • Sigrid Dugstad ( - sdugstad) 'University of Stavanger'