Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 1187–1213 | Cite as

Palaeoenvironmental analysis of large-scale, high-resolution GPR and magnetometry data sets: the Viking Age site of Gokstad in Norway

  • Petra Schneidhofer
  • Erich Nau
  • Alois Hinterleitner
  • Agata Lugmayr
  • Jan Bill
  • Terje Gansum
  • Knut Paasche
  • Sirri Seren
  • Wolfgang Neubauer
  • Erich Draganits
  • Immo Trinks
Original Paper


Large-scale, high-resolution geophysical data sets offer new possibilities for the comprehensive study of archaeological landscapes. In addition to the mere archaeological component, these data sets carry palaeoenvironmental information about the study area. Such information was known but rarely used in conventional geophysical surveys, which is mainly due to methodological issues. The Viking Age site of Gokstad in the Norwegian Province of Vestfold was chosen as a pilot study in order to perform a palaeoenvironmental analysis of large-scale, high-resolution ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and magnetometry data sets. The aim was to investigate how much palaeoenvironmental information is contained in such data sets, how this information can be extracted and analysed and whether it is relevant for the archaeological interpretation. Results yielded a variety of different palaeoenvironmental aspects including characteristics of the Viking Age shoreline, traces of former topography as well as insights into the palaeohydrology of the study area.


Geophysical prospection Geoarchaeology Palaeoenvironment Viking Age 



This study has been conducted as part of a PhD research project at the Initiative College for Archaeological Prospection (IC-Archpro) situated at the Vienna Institute for Archaeological Science (VIAS) of the University of Vienna in close collaboration with the Austrian Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI ArchPro) and its partners Vestfold fylkeskommune (Vfk) and the Norwegian Institute for cultural heritage research (NIKU). It was also carried out in the framework of the Gokstad revitalised project of the Museum of Cultural History Oslo (UiO). The geophysical fieldwork was conducted with the help of Manuel Gabler, Roland Filzwieser, Sebastian Flöry, Viktor Jansa (LBI ArchPro) as well as Lars Gustavsen and Lise-Marie Bye Johansen (NIKU). The authors would like to specifically thank Rebecca Cannell (University of Bournemouth) and Christer Tonning (Vestfold fylkeskommune) for their support during fieldwork, David Thornley (University of Reading) for his assistance with the laser granulometry, Prof. John Allen (University of Reading) and Prof. Martin Bell (University of Reading) for valuable suggestions. The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI ArchPro) is a research institute of the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft ( The lead partners of the Vienna-based institute are the University of Vienna (A), the Vienna University of Technology (A), the Austrian Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (A), the Province of Lower Austria (A), Airborne Technologies (A), the Roman-Germanic Central Museum Mainz (RGZM, D), the Swedish History Museums (S), the University of Birmingham (GB), the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU, N), Vestfold fylkeskommune (N), 7 reasons Medien GmbH (A), the Austrian Archaeological Institute (A) and the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW).

Supplementary material

12520_2015_312_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Table 1 Sediment descriptions of evaluation cores and observed layers. (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petra Schneidhofer
    • 1
  • Erich Nau
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alois Hinterleitner
    • 1
    • 3
  • Agata Lugmayr
    • 1
  • Jan Bill
    • 4
  • Terje Gansum
    • 5
  • Knut Paasche
    • 2
  • Sirri Seren
    • 3
  • Wolfgang Neubauer
    • 1
    • 6
  • Erich Draganits
    • 7
  • Immo Trinks
    • 1
  1. 1.Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual ArchaeologyWienAustria
  2. 2.Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage ResearchOsloNorway
  3. 3.Central Institute for Meteorology and GeodynamicsWienAustria
  4. 4.Museum of Cultural HistoryUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  5. 5.Department of Cultural Heritage ManagementVestfold FylkeskommuneTønsbergNorway
  6. 6.Vienna Institute for Archaeological ScienceUniversity of ViennaWienAustria
  7. 7.Department of Prehistory and Historical ArchaeologyUniversity of ViennaWienAustria

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