The Bronze Age Farm – the rock carver’s daily life

The farm shows a different aspect of the Bronze Age from the rock carvings. The images on the rock carvings do not seem to have much to do with everyday life; there are no depictions of the artists’ homes, their fields or their pigs. But you can see these at Vitlycke Museum’s Bronze Age farm.

The farm contains reconstructions of two longhouses, from the Early and the Late Bronze Age. In the workshop we show handicrafts such as dyeing and bronze casting during the summer. Sheep wander round as they please and the pigpen is behind the farmhouse. The farming activity also includes growing plants resembling those of the Bronze Age as closely as possible: emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, millet, grey peas, broad beans and so on.

The farm is also the base for the Museum’s day-camps and a part of our longer guided tours. In summer there are activities here like the archaeology school, Bronze Age life, archery and handicraft demonstrations.

How they lived

Few traces of Bronze Age buildings are visible today, but from the work of archaeologists we know what they may have looked like. This type of house is called a longhouse and they were common for several thousand years. With only minor modifications they were built from the end of the Stone Age until the end of the Iron Age. The longhouses were from 10-40 metres in length and built of whatever material was to hand. Ours are built of oak, reeds, turf, osiers and clay. A building of this size may have had a household of 10-12 people living. All the generations lived under the same roof.

The climate changed during the Late Bronze Age, and with it so did people’s way of living. It got colder and the animals were allowed into the people’s dwellings, at least the more valuable livestock. The longhouses were built in the same manner as in the Early Bronze Age but now with one half as human living-quarters and the other half for livestock. The reason for not building separate stables may have been that it was warmer for humans and animals to share the same space and pershaps because it was easier to protect the livestock against rustlers and wild animals.

Utility plants in the Bronze Age

Pollen analysis and traces of up to 100 different types of plants obtained from archaeological excavations have given us a knowledge of which plants existed and were used during the Bronze Age. Some plants were cultivated, while others were collected from the surrounding countryside for various purposes: food, medicine, textiles, dyeing. Our little plantation gives some examples of such plants, both wild and cultivated. The Nordic gene bank has helped us obtain species grown in the past.

Farm animals

During the summer you can get to know sheep and pigs on the Bronze Age farm. As well as these animals, there may have been goats, a few cows and a horse if the farmer was well off. However, there were no domesticated birds. There were fewer smaller in the Bronze Age than today, and they were less productive, but on the other hand they were more robust.

The forest and the sacrificial site

Behind the farm there is a patch of woodland that we are gradually transforming into more typical Bronze Age forest. The forest of the Bronze Age was a mixed deciduous forest of linden, oak, ash, birch and hazel. More intensive farming and grazing thinned out the previously dense primeval forest, which sometime gave way to open pasture.

In the forest you will also find a small sacrificial pond where you can gain an insight into what the holy places of the Bronze Age looked like. Here there is a little building where they might have prepared their sacrifice and a track-way pointing to the island where the idols are.

Updated: 2017-10-18 12:38