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The Archaeological Material: Reconstructing the Door
Seven doors and one doorframe have been preserved from Late Iron Age
contexts in Scandinavia, in addition to one Early Iron Age door. Most of the
preserved doors and door remains are from early urban sites. This may bias the
material – doors from urban sites, which are potentially seasonal, may differ
from permanent, rural doors. The doors are constructed in generally similar
ways. The oldest door, from Nørre Fjand (second century BCE to secondcentury CE), was composed of two planks of oak joined by means of two curved inlets. The door was probably hinged from a wood-peg, as one of the
corners of the plank door was carved into a tenon (Hatt 1957:61–63). From
Gotland, a sixth-century door was found collapsed immediately inside the
threshold of a longhouse. The door consisted of three pine planks with two
transverse crossbeams nailing the three planks together (Stenberger 1940). One
door is preserved from Kaupang, the Viking proto-urban centre in Vestfold.1
This door was reused as framing in a wood-framed well or latrine. It had a
rounded shape, and originally consisted of four planks with a transverse beam
nailing the planks together with five wooden nails. The door is composed of
several types of wood: The planks were pine, oak, and fir. This may indicate
that the door was crafted from available wood sources, and thus not particularly
planned or meticulously crafted (Figure 2.4).
Two doors and a doorframe have been preserved from Hedeby (Schietzel
and Zippelius 1969). The first door consisted of three wooden planks, again
fastened together with two transverse crossbeams, of a rectangular shape. The
door had a sliding bolt on the upper part, which could be used to lock the door
from the inside. The second door was only half a metre wide, and consisted of
two wooden boards nailed together by two transverse pieces of wood
(Schultze 2010). Both doors must have opened inwards towards the interior,
due to the placement of the sliding bolt and the hinges. In addition to the two
preserved doors, parts of a doorframe with a rounded lintel were also
unearthed at Hedeby (Rudolph 1939). Figure 2.5 displays a reconstruction
drawing of the completely preserved Hedeby door, showing the technology of
the construction.
Finally, door constructions are also known from the Viking diaspora, from
the hybrid architectural traditions of Dublin. A timber plank door probably
swung outwards, based on the placement of its tenon. A second door was
made of wattle, making it more portable than a plank door (Wallace
1992:29–30). In addition to the doors, on Fishamble Street an ornamented
ship’s prow was found to have been reused as a rather beautiful threshold (Lang
1988:9).



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