Viking Hoards and Buried Treasure!!!

Trip Start Jan 08, 2010
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14
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Trip End Sep 27, 2010


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Flag of Sweden  , Gotland,
Saturday, March 20, 2010

The weather is getting steadily warmer and things are thawing out.  The city and the ocean look so different when they're not as snowy or icy.  The stones in the ocean are beautiful colours and the same ones are used to pave the streets so once all the dirt and sand are washed away I think the streets are going to be beautiful.  It's not that warm yet but we have been able to sit outside a few times without freezing in any serious way.

I made an exciting discovery! Some of you will remember the screen printing project I did using Space Invaders as the motifs? Well as part of that assignment I found an artist who calls himself ''Invader''.  Among other things, he goes around to cities in the world and sticks mosaics of space invaders in public places.  Well I found one here!!!!! How cool is that! I spotted it while Daniel was driving us somewhere and had to go hunt for it again on foot. If anyone's interested, Invader's website is www.space-invaders.com  He also invented ''Rubik'sCubism'' which is awesome, have a squiz!

We have been learning and teaching a lot here, Pete at this moment is making coffee in an old Swedish way (boiled on the stove) which Pekka taught him and we are proud to announce that Jonas has become a frequent user of the phrase ''Up your Jumper''.  Big breakthroughs in culture sharing!

On one of our walks this week we found another burnt down church inside the walls.  This one was odd because it was two churches joined together (very unusual apparently) and it is surrounded by houses so it's like it's in their backyard!  There were stones with engravings on them just propped up against the remaining walls - they could be pinched by anyone!  It must have been really beautiful in it's day though, the tops of the pillars and the archways were pretty at least.

The highlight of the week has been visiting the museum today with Emelie.  It was fantastic and Emelie was an excellent guide.  The first room we went to was full of picture stones which dated back to pagan times and the later ones were merging with Christian imagery so there were some interesting pictures and symbols on them.  They were used as memorial stones and graves markers as well I think.

We then saw some dug up skeletons with interesting stuff buried with them and cabinets full of jewellery and board games and beauty tools and all sorts of other things that were buried with various people.  The weirdest things were little gadgets made from bone called ''ear scoops'' which I guess were the ancestors of Swisspers.

After that we were warned by Emelie to only proceed if we weren't too squeemish because around the corner was a cabinet of things dug up from mass graves outside of Visby.  In the 1300's Denmark invaded and all sorts of people had to fight to protect the city.  The graves were full of people too old, too young or too disabled to be fighting in the first place.  Pretty sad.  They had a selection of bones in the cabinet which were all from different people and were all deformed in some way from before the battle.  Some had breaks which had been so badly set that the person would have been crippled and others had growths and diseased bits which would have been none too comfortable to live with.  There were also skulls with severe injuries (one with the arrow heads stuck back in place) and their chain mail still on.  There were also weapons and personal belongings found with the bodies like a ring with the person's name engraved on it, found still on the owner's finger.  Creepy stuff.

The room about executions was particularly confronting.  There is a place outside the city here which was used for public executions and was excavated in 2008.  They found the hill littered with bones and only two bodies were still in tact, all the others had been dismembered as warnings to others.  It was really gruesome, I can't believe all the different ways people thought up to kill other people.  They tried to think of ways to do it to make the biggest spectacle possible in order to deterr others.  I was doing alright until we got to the bit about force feeding liquid excrement before pulling the person apart on a rack.  Then I felt physically ill and moved on to the next room.  Why did they have to go that extra step?  Isn't killing and dismembering enough?  The youngest body they found on the hill was 5 or 6 years old and there were a lot around 10-20 years old.  I wonder what they could have done to deserve what they got?

Sorry, that was a bit of a downer but the next bit will pick you up again!

The best room was the silver room.  It was so exciting, they had piles and piles of Viking silver and gold and bronze which had been brought to Gotland from all over the world by Vikings and hidden in hoardes around the island.  Two huge hoardes were found in a field in 1999!!!! When the area was looked at properly it was discovered that the hoards (which were in huge treasure chests with great big locks on them by the way!) had been buried under a house and I guess forgotten and when the house fell down another building was put there and then that fell down and now it's just a field with buried treasure!!!!!! Wow! There were piles and piles of bracelets and coins and stuff from Asia and other places. Incredible, I can't believe stuff is still being discovered here.  Imagine finding buried treasure in your field in 1999!

Then finally there was the basement of the building (which is a seriously old building itself) which they have set up like it would have been once upon a time as a storeroom and basement thing.  It was freezing down there and we had been at the museum for a couple of hours by then so we didn't stay long, but the highlight of that bit was the medieval toilet! It was just a hole in the wall that you sat in and you hung your bottom over a stream that was running past and washed all the whats nots away! Pretty cool huh? Only problem was it really was freezing and gloomy down there so I don't think I would have been game to go in the night if it were my house.  Interesting never the less.

After that big exhausting trip we were well in need of a hot cuppa so we went to that cafe Pete played at the other week, Hedbergs, and sat listening to the live jazz for an hour or so.  Very cosy and a great end to the day and week.


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