Methodological use of Magnetic Susceptibility to locate ancient reindeer herder hearths in Suollagavalda, northern Sweden: A geoarchaeological approach

Loïc Charles Pierre Harrault, Gabriela Domene Lopez, David George Anderson, Kjell-Åke Aronsson, Karen Beatrice Milek

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Ancient and modern pastoralist groups in northern Sweden have relied on reindeer and goats as an economic staple since approximately AD 1000. While many of the same lands are still used for pasture, reliance on this economy has diminished over time.
Archaeological evidence for past herding activity is often ephemeral in the circumpolar region and finding ancient pastoral sites relies currently on combining traditional knowledge and evidence from archaeological surveying. Two visible aspects of past occupations are rectangular stone hearths and ‘Stallo foundations’ – sunken floor dwellings with circular embankments – whose associated economic activities and seasonality are frequently discussed in archaeological literature.
Here, we demonstrate how magnetic susceptibility field coil and phosphate field analyses at Suollagavalda, a medieval to post-medieval pastoral site in northern Sweden, successfully identified previously un-recorded hearth features, subsequently mapped and excavated. These field methods were also used on-site to:
1) determine a more detailed test-pitting and field sampling strategy;
2) establish the extent and spatial organisation of the site;
3) hypothesise possible site uses such as milking corral locations or identifying groups of structures perhaps representing a hierarchically and spatially organised trading community.
We anticipate these hypotheses to be further tested with future soil chemistry studies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2017
EventEthnoarchaeology of fire - AMBI Lab, Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, La Laguna, Spain
Duration: 9 Feb 201712 Feb 2017


ConferenceEthnoarchaeology of fire
CityLa Laguna
Internet address


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