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Archaeologists excavate the marginalised community of Vaakunakylä



Archaeologists have excavated the marginalised community of Vaakunakylä, a former Nazi barracks occupied by homeless Finns following the end of WW2.

Between 1944 and 1945, Vaakunakylä was located near Oulu, Finland, which was abandoned by the retreating German military with the approach of Allied forces.

As a consequence of the occupation of Finland, displaced Finns sought refuge in the barracks during the late 1940s, establishing a community that operated largely independent of the developing Finnish welfare system.

This created an environment described as “criminal and restless”, leading to the marginalisation of Vaakunakylä’s populace and the eventual demolition of the settlement against the residents’ wishes during the late 1980s.

“The outside perception of what might be referred to as ‘bad’ neighbourhoods can be markedly different from the ways the communities see themselves”, says lead author of the research Dr Oula Seitsonen. “Archaeology can offer a tool to investigate the realities of life in such places”.

As part of a study published in the journal Antiquity, researchers from the University of Oulu conducted an excavation at Vaakunakylä and interviewed former inhabitants to provide new insights into the community.

“Archaeologies of 20th century working-class communities and conflicts have been little-studied in Finland, and the Vaakunakylä project combines these both,” states Dr Seitsonen.

“Material heritage of the Vaakunakylä area was practically unknown before our research, and by studying a former Nazi military camp turned into a Finnish working-class neighbourhood we can probe various neglected societal themes.”

Excavations uncovered evidence of refurbishment by the residents to improve the facilities at Vaakunakylä, including one barracks block that was converted into a family home, and another transformed into a sauna.

Furthermore, material culture such as waste uncovered from rubbish pits reveals a higher standard of living than previously believed, with some households owning high-end porcelain sets.

Image Credit : Antiquity Journal

The discovery of toys, children’s medication and dummies suggests that children at Vaakunakylä also enjoyed a good quality of life. In this way, the project gives a glimpse into the often-silenced lives of women and children in the past.

Interviews with former residents returned a generally positive view of the community, with many stating that life in Vaakunakylä was “good enough”.

Importantly, this means that the poor reputation of Vaakunakylä is largely unfounded and highlights the value of archaeological research in giving a voice to marginalised communities.

“Both the finds and the collected oral histories give a different and more nuanced picture of the Vaakunakylä community than the popular image of the area as a restless and criminal slum-like shantytown,” says Dr Seitsonen. “We hope that this can have a healing aspect when the pent-up feelings are brought to the surface and discussed in public.”

Header Image Credit : Antiquity Journal

Sources : Antiquity – Contemporary archaeological perspectives on intersectional inequality in a welfare state in twentieth-century Finland – Oula Seitsonen, Tuuli Matila, Marika Hyttinen & Aleksi Kelloniemi.

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Excavations uncover traces of Kraków Fortress




A team of archaeologists conducting archaeological works at the S52 construction site have uncovered traces of the Kraków Fortress in the Polish city of Kraków.

S52 is a Polish highway being constructed in the Silesian and Lesser Poland voivodeships, which upon completion will connect the border of the Czech Republic in Cieszyn with Kraków.

Kraków Fortress refers to a series of Austro-Hungarian fortifications constructed during the 19th century. The fortress included the 18th century Kościuszko Insurrection fortifications, the medieval Wawel Castle, and the Kraków city walls. Of the over 50 post-Austrian forts in Krakow, 44 structures have been preserved in their entirety or with minor changes.

Excavations in the area of ​​the northern bypass of Krakow have revealed the remains of earthen structures related to the network of military units being established around the city, whose task was to turn Krakow into a modern border fortress.

The team also uncovered traces of earth embankments and moats, as well as the infrastructure for draining rainwater from the infantry entrenchment area and a wooden shelter from a dugout measuring 25 by 7.5 metres.

A press statement by the Republic of Poland, said: “During the research, objects related to the everyday life of soldiers were discovered. These include a tin enameled mug with a signature on the bottom depicting a double-headed imperial eagle with the inscription Austria and the initials H&C 1/2.”

“The preserved marking allowed us to determine that the mug is a product of the Haardt & Co. factory located in Knittelfeld, Austria. Enamellierwerke und Metallwarenfabriken AG. Founded in 1873 by Friedrich Wilhelm Haardt, the factory produced embossed enamelled dishes, including orders for the then Austrian army.”

Header Image Credit : Republic of Poland

Sources : Republic of Poland

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Excavations at Sheffield Castle uncover city’s industrial heritage




A team of archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology have uncovered the industrial heritage of Sheffield during excavations at Sheffield Castle.

Sheffield Castle was constructed following the Norman Conquest of England (1066) at the confluence of the River Sheaf and the River Don.

Throughout April and May of 2024, Wessex Archaeology is conducting a series of excavations to uncover and preserve the foundations of the circular towers of the castle’s gatehouse, and explore the destruction deposits from the razing of the original motte and bailey castle by John D’Eyvill in the 13th century.

The team will also be investigating areas never before excavated, finally reaching the remains of the 11th to 17th-century castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned.

Following the removal of the modern concrete foundations and backfill deposits, excavations have already uncovered traces of structures from the 19th century.

The team found remnants of a vaulted ceiling, which upon further inspection has been revealed to be a crucible furnace, a type of foundry furnace used for melting and casting metals such as steel, in addition to ‘rake out’ pits below the furnace.

A press statement by Wessex Archaeology, “This cellar would have been a hot, unpleasant place when the crucible furnaces above were working. Reaching temperatures of 1200 degrees centigrade, the firing process was hot and efficient, but it also produced lots of ash which needed to be cleared. The ash would fall into the ‘rake out’ pits below, where a worker, perhaps a young boy, had the back-breaking job of removing it.”

Throughout April and May 2024, the Sheffield community is invited to experience and discover the site’s archaeology firsthand, through open days and opportunities to participate in the excavation for a day. Attendance is FREE with booking required. For more information and to book, visit

Header Image Credit : Wessex Archaeology

Sources : Wessex Archaeology

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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