Garden Archaeology is still a new field of research in Scandinavia. The development has so far essentially followed two parallel lines, until now kept more or less apart.

The first line of research has its origins in the fields of Cultural Landscape Management and Building Conservation. Here American and British Garden Archaeology has been highly influential, and the primary focus of interest has been historic parks and formal gardens. Recent multidisciplinary research projects are often based on written sources, plans, maps, images etc. but today they also often include archaeological investigations. However, archaeology cannot only provide new and much needed source material – archaeology also has the potential to shed light on new topics. For example, is it possible to find out what it was like to stroll around in a baroque garden, not the idealized plan that the map of the architect represents but the actual garden, through interpretation of the archaeological remains?

The second one has been developed within contract archaeology. Here the main sources of inspiration has been Agrarian Archaeology, Landscape Archaeology and Archaeobothany, and the archaeological material is at the center of the investigations. Aspects of gardens and gardening,  that other sources rarely touch upon, can by this approach be investigated. One example is the new knowledge of the extensive medieval and early modern urban gardens, provided by recent excavation projects.  The results have altered our view of urban everyday life in many ways. An example of this is that, contrary to earlier beliefs, farming and gardening where among the skills required by town dwellers. Other earlier standpoints, e.g. that gardening for esthetic and symbolic purposes was matters that exclusively concerned the elite, has also been challenged.

By exploring gardens of the past with archaeological and archaeobotanical methods, new results are obtained and new questions can be asked.  However, this new situation calls for new theoretical and methodological approaches within Garden Archaeology. Perhaps it is time for this field of research to become more theory driven? We would like to make this the main topic of discussion in this session.

Wednesday 23 April 2014, 09.00-17.00, Room Bergsmannen
Contact: Anna Andréasson:

Paper abstracts

09.00-09.30 Organizers: Garden archaeology: a theoretical and methodological challenge

09.30-10.00 Kathryn L. Gleason, Cornell & Amina-Aicha Malek, Paris: Advancing Garden Archaeology: establishing a disciplinary approach in the sourcebook of Garden Archaeology and the Society for Garden Archaeology

The Sourcebook for Garden Archaeology, the first venture of its kind, offers a systematic approach to the archaeology of gardens: identifying gardens, soil features, specialist analyses, and interpretation.  A coherent methodology is drawn from the techniques used successfully in areas outside of, but integrating, the special conditions of the Vesuvian area of Italy.  Methods are described in sufficient detail for archaeologists to engage in field work and create a site-specific methodology.  Finally, it offers a diachronically and geographically diverse range of case studies. In our paper, we will demonstrate the methodology through reference to Roman-era case studies at the Petra Garden and Pool Project, Jordan and the Villa Arianna at Stabiae, Italy. The paper concludes with mention of the Society for Garden Archaeology. Conceived in 2003 at Dumbarton Oaks, the international SGA is a fully incorporated not-for-profit organization.  The Society will hold the first of its biannual meetings in Paris 2015.

10.00-10.30 Samuli Simelius, Helsinki: Ancient gardens in their context: the Pompeian peristyle gardens

The archeological study of Roman gardens began after the Second World War with the major works of Wilhelmina Jashemski and Pierre Grimal. Particularly Jashemski developed the methods of excavation, which led to an increase of excavation activity on the Roman garden sites. As the new methods produced an onslaught of vegetation data, the publications mainly concentrated on this new information. Almost simultaneously the study of the Roman house was influenced by ideas from anthropology and social sciences, which changed the view of the traditional Vitruvian house ideal. Theoretical frame of social functions of the Roman house was strongly studied in this period.
The garden was an important part of the Roman house, but scope of the garden archaeology has neglected to connect these gardens into their wider context. Aim of this paper is to link the Pompeian peristyle gardens to the theoretical context related to socioeconomics of the Roman house.

10.30-11.00 Coffee break

11.00-11.30 Maria Petersson, Linköping: Iron Age gardening: a theoretical and methodological challenge

The discovery of Early Iron Age kitchen gardens in central Sweden is due to a new methodological approach within archaeology, closely entwined with a new theoretical awareness. During the Roman Iron Age Scandinavia was under a strong Roman influence; both objects and ideas were imported. The latter were often remoulded under the influence of local conditions. One interesting example is the introduction of new garden plants in Scandinavia during the Roman Iron Age. This might imply that the array of plants, ideas concerning the design of kitchen gardens and the organization of garden labour etc. may have been influenced by Roman ideas concerning cultivation. In excavating such kitchen gardens several methods are employed and combined. The localization, extent and layout are illuminated through the archaeological material, whereas different scientific   methods will illuminate choice of plants and cultivation strategies.

11.30-12.00 Matti Leino & Else-Marie Karlsson Strese, Stockholm, Hanna-Maja Tunset, Trondheim, Jesper Fogelholm & Jenny Hagenblad, Linköping: Potato onion: the missing link to onion cultivation in the past?

Historical onion cultivation is well documented and mentioned already in the earliest written Scandinavian documents. Contrasting the written sources, is the absence of archaeological remains of onions. Onions of the past are generally assumed to be leek, a seed-propagated species. We instead propose the potato onion as the onion species of historical Scandinavian gardens. The potato onion is clonally propagated and thus leaves no seed remains. Long forgotten by scholarly gardeners the cultivation of potato onions has continued in small-scale cultivation in the countryside to present day.
Although not constituting a major calorie supply, the onions have possibly been important for religious or medical purposes. We want to discuss how ethnology, biology, genetics and archeology could be combined to understand the importance of the pre-historical onion patch and how studies of a crop species can reveal cultural contacts and material transfer in the past.

12.00-12.30 Annika Nordström, Stockholm: Urban garden archaeology: new perspectives on urbanism

In recent years there have been quite a few opportunities in Sweden to excavate urban gardens. By using modern excavation methods and modern multidisciplinary approaches and theories we now know a great deal more about the role that gardening have played in our medieval and early modern towns.  For example we have a clearer view on how the gardens were designed and what was cultivated in them. 
The results also mean that we need to reconsider our view on urbanism and urbanity.  It also allows us to ask new questions. Is it possible to tell an alternative story about urban life through garden archaeology? In this paper I aim to present a few new perspectives on medieval and early modern urban life.

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30-14.00 Ivan Balic, Gertie Ericsson & Gunilla Gardelin, Lund: Urban gardening in Lund: methods and strategies

In recent years archaeobotanical and geological analysis have been an integrated part of archaeo-logical excavations in Lund, Sweden. At all major excavations gardens, fields and meadows have been identified which have changed how we perceive the medieval town, leading to a new approach to analysing the urban settings. Traditional interpretations have been overthrown and new questions are proposed.
Kulturen uses the household as a basic theoretical unit in order to study why people lived like they did rather than how they lived, a view inspired by Axel Christophersen. Archaeobotanical and geological analysis have made it possible to study with greater detail, the living conditions of people, and the role that cultivation played in the medieval town on many different levels. This has resulted in new perspectives requiring different strategies, questions and methods, which this paper will address.

14.00-14.30 Teija Alanko, Helsinki: Plant remains from medieval and early modern gardens: can macrofossils answer questions about gardening and lifestyle?

The garden of the medieval convent of Naantali, Finland was investigated through excavation of the convent church. The question of whether differences in Catholic and Lutheran way of life, medicinal practice and gardening, could be demonstrated from plant remains was considered, by analysing AMS-radiocarbon dated macrofossils from different layers. Could changes in the pattern of consumption be revealed, that marked the transition from the convent period to the time after the Reformation?
The garden of the manor of Kumpula in Helsinki, Finland, was studied by collecting soil samples for macrofossil analysis without excavation, using a certain sampler and measuring AMS-radiocarbon dates. The aim was to evaluate how these methods work, and to investigate if the meaning and use of the old garden of the manor could be revealed from plant remains. Was it a kitchen garden or an aesthetic construction? Are these methods enough to answer this kind of questions?

14.30-15.00 Aja Guldåker, Lund: The golden path: the long way to the reconstruction of a garden

It is a complex process to reconstruct a garden involving people of many different professions. The archaeologist is one of the professionals that can be involved in such a project.
Why do we reconstruct gardens which has long lost its structures and functions, and what are the future plans? Who is responsible for the reconstruction process, and who will finance it?  Why have these gardens been chosen for reconstruction? Is it because a special person is connected to the garden or does it have a strong symbolic value? What methods and expertise are needed?
This paper deals with some personal experiences of reconstructing gardens from an archaeologist’s point of view. On the basis of three cases in Norway from the last 10 years, in which archeology has played a key role in the reconstructions of gardens and parklands, I would like to discuss the theoretical aspect of the reconstructing process.

15.00-15.30 Coffee break

15.30-16.00 Mia Lempiäinen-Avci, Turku: Where are the plants? Archaeobotanical analysis and theories on an empty garden in the 19th century village of Lahti, Finland

Clear archaeological evidence of gardening was found during large scale excavations in Lahti last summer (2013) of the Lahti market place in the city center, where the historical village of Lahti was also located. Lahti was mentioned in written documents the first time in 1445 and burned to the ground in June 1877. Soil samples from several planting beds were studied archaeobotanically, but the results did not reveal any plant remains.
What can the reasons be for the empty planting beds? Taphonomic processes and the use of the plants and the plantingbeds must be taken into account, but what does that mean in detail? 1) Are the beds remnants of a nursery garden? 2) Where the beds for growing root vegetables? or 3) Was it perhaps a garden for hops or tobacco? How do we work with and interpret garden soils, planting beds, and other remains of this kind?

16.00-16.30 Bjørn Anders Fredriksen & Annegreth Dietze-Schirdewahn, Ås: Map interpretation and archaeological remains

Researching a gardens history, it is useful to see historical maps as part of a ’planning context’, and the garden itself and the archaeological remains as part of a ‘site context’. Maps are material culture representing a particular time. Consequently, historical maps are important for the interpretation of archaeological remains. The testing of the reliability of a specific plan drawing by excavations have long been the established practice, but is a reductive approach, not trying to understand the historic planning process, nor the construction process over time. Tracing the process of change can offer more broad sets of interpretations both in garden archaeology and map analysis. Furthermore, a range of intervening historic disciplines, as mapmaking, garden design and engineering, must be seen as part of the backdrop. Based on Norwegian examples we will present map genealogy as a new method to emphasize the interaction/interrelation of archaeology and maps.

16.30-17.00 Kevin Wooldridge, Bergen: Chiswick House: nature and human interacting in a theoretical garden

Chiswick House is a 28 hectare estate in west London, containing a neo-Palladian villa dating from 1720 set in a garden landscape. Over the past 30 years a continuous programme of archaeological research has developed methodologies to both record the garden archaeology and to integrate its results into ongoing regeneration works. Whilst the archaeological methodology has developed during those 30 years, a theoretical framework considering the interaction between designers, owners and users of the garden has been lacking. However, Garden Archaeology seems an appropriate setting in which to explore and analyse coupled human and natural systems (CHANS); one which suits many of the aims of CHANS research, particularly the nurturing of interdisciplinary dialogue and development of multi-disciplinary skills. This paper will propose that any theory of garden archaeology should be founded upon the premise that a 'garden' is an extreme expression of a coupled human and natural system.