Building Living Pasts

There is another type of heritage site which are more intentionally active components of the landscape, which can also allow us to creatively explore aspects of the past, and that is the archaeological reconstruction.

There is a long tradition of reconstructing archaeological sites.  In some cases, this may involve building up from excavated original wall footings to create a more substantial experience of how a building may have looked and felt in the past.  In other cases, archaeological reconstructions are built on the basis of the aggregated evidence from a range of sites, creating something more broadly characteristic of a type of monument or building.

One striking example can be found at Lilli-Bakki Farm, Iceland.  Here there is an exquisite reconstruction of a Viking age turf and wooden church in a circular turf enclosure: perfect for its landscape setting.  This example was built for the East Iceland Heritage Museum in Egilsstaðir as part of an international exchange.  The building and its enclosure shows a range of heritage skills, such as building walls and roofing in turf, woodworking and carpentry, and stone working. The building is thus a product of its broader landscape, composed of traditional materials such as turf, stone and (drift) wood.

I also love the fact that the materials left over from the reconstruction of the church were then used to create a sculptural Viking longship.  According to the stone craftsman on the team, the mast of the ship was constructed of a 300 year old piece of driftwood….!

A great example of a creative blend of archaeology and landscape.


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