The First Post-Row Complex on Funen found in Birkende
13. April 2015 | Vikingemuseum Ladby
A defensive structure from the distant past was uncovered in the soil of Funen when the Museums of Eastern Funen undertook an archaeological investigation near Birkende in January and February of 2015. The excavation took place in a field that once was a swamp, but was later drained so it could be cultivated, and revealed the first post-row complex on Funen.
On the southwestern edge of Birkende, a subdivision is planned to sell lots for building new homes, and therefore the Museums of Eastern Funen has made a preliminary archaeological investigation. The 5 hectare (12.3 acre) area that is to be subdivided had long ditches dug across it that show where people previously lived, or how they used the land.
Many metal detector finds have been made in this area, which is only 500 m. (547 yards) from the church, both factors giving rise to high expectations about significant finds. The archaeologists were not disappointed, as traces of houses from the late Viking period or early Middle Ages were found, along with likely traces from the Iron Age. More precise dating will be possible when and if the subdivision becomes a reality, as the area with ancient houses and other features will then be fully excavated.
The Iron Age’s Crows’ Feet
Whoever they were, the first inhabitants of Birkende had a need to defend their settlement. They did this by building an almost invisible defensive barricade as an extension of nature’s own defenses - a swamp. Today the traces of their defenses can be seen as hundreds of closely-placed postholes covering a 20 m. (21.9 yard) long distance. This type of defensive construction is called a post-row complex, and this is the first one found on Funen.
Post-row complexes are well-known from West Jutland, where they sometimes are several kilometres long. They have also been found on Lolland, but not on Sjælland (Zealand) and until now, not on Funen. Post-row complexes can best be described as crows’ feet - an obstacle that made it really hard for unwelcome guests to pass, and which hopefully took them by surprise and maybe also injured them.
Illustration: A surveyor measuring the post-holes in the post-row complex near Birkende. (The Museums of Eastern Funen)