Primitive Tider (Dec 2021)


  • Tor-Ketil Krokmyrdal

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 23, no. 23


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In this paper, I discuss a potential market place for the exchange of goods at Sandtorg in Harstad municipality, Troms and Finnmark county during the Iron Age and the Middle Ages. Recently, a total of 125 objects were uncovered on a farm, previously only mentioned in written sources in the mid-16th century. Finds of jewelry, silver, coins, weight and metal waste from the Viking Age suggest that exchange of goods started at the site somewhere between AD 800 and 900. Further finds indicate that there were exchange goods here throughout the Middle Ages and onwards to the historically documented trade. At the location, excavations have uncovered a far larger amount of metalworking waste than one would expect on an ordinary farm. This included lead, copper alloys, iron and silver. The finds indicate a smithy close to the Viking Age beach level and may suggest construction and repair of sea vessels at the site. Around Sandtorg there are no known Viking Age graves, indicating that Sandtorg did not have a large permanent population, and consequently was not a large marketplace. However, it is possible that the market function was combined with services such as repairs or construction of seagoing vessels and guesthouses for travelers. If so, the activity at Sandtorg may have been significant.