Excavations on Aakre tarand grave

The University of Tartu with help from the National Heritage Board organised archaeological excavations on the Aakre Kivivare tarand-grave site (National Heritage registry no 13123). The excavations took place in July and August and for a few days in September, altogether almost three weeks.

The excavated tarand in September 2014, view from the North. On the right you can guess the stone row of the next tarand and see the heap of removed stones.

Tarand-graves are communal burial places with rectangular above-ground stone wall enclosures which are called tarands. When these graves first appeared on the landscape in the Pre-Roman Iron Age (500 BC – AD 50), they contained only inhumation burials and one rectangular enclosure was assigned for one body. Over time, cremation became a more frequently recorded way of disposing the dead and cremated bones and most of the artefacts were scattered in the tarand-area, mostly inside but also outside of the walls.

The last few days excavating this year: the volounteers.

This year, most of the 3×8 meters large tarand area was emptied by a professional and international team of archaeology students and their friends. The finds were documented with the help of a total station and the different stone layers were documented solely with the help of photography. The photos were conjoined with the methods and programmes of photogrammetry to create orthophotos and 3D-models of each stage of the excavation.

The work with the excavated material is ongoing. We do know that there were specific areas where there were more finds than averagely. Most of the items were found from the central part of the tarand or around larger stones. The artefacts as well as bones were scattered in between the stones.

The silver plated head-shield fibula.

At the moment, most of the finds are being washed, only the finds which were chosen for the analyses will be left unwashed. The items chosen for analyses will be sent for radiocarbon dating to determine a more exact usage period of the grave.

Kärbissõlg aka cross ribbed fibula.

All in all, the excavations were successful as several special and datable items such as a silver-plated head-shield fibula, an enamelled disc fibula and almost a quarter of a pot were found. The amount of bones was not as large as the quantity of pot sherds, but the number of cremated and inhumed bones was more than enough to be able to reach at least some conclusions about the individuals. But as it was said before, the finds are still being washed and everything is very preliminary.

Almost quarter of a pot.

In addition to the information day for the locals held in July, an excavation blog was being written during the dig. Even now, news about how the work is proceeding and about the results are being published in the blog or on the facebook page.

Cremated bones.


Enamelled disc fibula.

Anu Kivirüüt

National Heritage Board, PP2