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Dahl, Barbro 2003: The mythical landscapes – The ritual landscapes. An example from Rossland in Sokndal, Southwest Norway., Stavanger, Norway.

(Original paper for cand. philol. dissertation in Archaeology 2003)

For nearly a century a public discussion surrounding an anthropomorphic stone head surfaced repeatedly in the local media in the Dalane-region in the southern part of Rogaland county. In the year 2000 the debate came to life again with renewed force. The local society where the stone head were found demanded to get what now seemed to have turned into a cultural symbol back from the museum that bought it in 1905. The local engagement was inspirering, interesting and at the same time difficult to step into from an archaeological viewpoint. 

The study of the debate in the media illustrates the different focuses at different times during the century. In addition I made interviews with people who live in the area around the debated monuments. By moving in the landscape with informants I gained insight into names of places and monuments. The monuments and places are bound together by histories that make them meaningful and thereby maintain their existence. In here lies a key value of the cultural monuments.

While archaeology traditionally arrange and interpret prehistoric traces into a linear timescale, the study gives an example of how Rossland as a place is made of histories and interpretations from different periods of time. But instead of a plurality of different local interpretations, I discovered that the place was dominated by one interpreter who was viewed by the others as a specialist on the local past. The mythical place is a web influenced by present viewpoints, politics and religious beliefs. The past becomes a powerful and inextricable part of the way we view ourselves. Along with the power of a dominated place conflicts and attempts of resistance will surface. The place is not just an attempt to explain the past, it is an interplay between stories of the past, experiences of the present and visions for the future. At the same time this brings into light the power of presenting the past, the archaeological praxis.

Barbro Dahl, Arkeologisk museum i Stavanger, P.O. Box 478, N-4002 Stavanger, Norway
Telephone (+47) 51846035, mobile (+47) 90063749 or (+47) 47383422, e-mail or

Key words: Roman and Migration Periods, Folklore, Landscapes, Places and Monuments.

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