A possible Iron Age longhouse on Kvaløy, near Tromsø, northern Norway

This flat field, used for grazing and haymaking, shows no surface features. A steep hillside rises up from the field in the northwest. The geological conditions in the area are favourable for accumulations of magnetite-rich rocks. The gradiometer map (on the left) shows a nearly unbroken, U-shaped belt of positive anomalies (dark) in the southeast, which is assumed to represent the remains of side walls and an arcuate gable wall of a building. A row of evenly-spaced, positive magnetic anomalies is seen along the mid axis. We undertook trial excavations which showed that these anomalies were not hearths, but apparently mark the foundations of roof-bearing posts within the longhouse. To the northeast of this assumed dwelling section of the house, a more diffuse area may represent the byre. Along the continuation of the axis is a fairly large, rounded area of positive anomalies which may mark phosphate-rich soil such as can be expected within a byre. The absence of evidence suggestive of walls and postholes in this part of the longhouse may be due to the use of less durable, more perishable building material. Two possible entrances can be seen as dark areas (positive magnetic anomalies) on the outside of the side wall to the southeast. A linear, V-shaped pattern of anomalies approaches these from the southeast and may represent a bifurcating path leading from the nearby river. Decayed wood from the base of one of the assumed posthole foundations gave a 14C date of 255-425 AD and, from the occupation layer, charcoal that might derive from a collapsed, burnt-out roof was dated to 625-680 AD.

A - Dwelling, B - Byre, C and D - possible entrances, E - path(s)