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Greenland’s Paradise Valley

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The Qinngua Valley, also known as Paradisdalen (meaning “paradise valley”) is a unique biome in southern Greenland and contains the island’s only natural forest zone.

The valley runs for 15 kilometres, flanked by snow-capped mountains rising up to 1.6 kilometres above the valley floor. At the northern rocky extent is a freshwater lake that feeds a stream flowing the valley length into Tasersuag Lake due south.

Unlike the rest of Greenland, which has an Arctic tundra climate, Qinngua Valley has conditions that qualify as a micro-sub-arctic climate, with temperatures reaching above 10 °C (50 °F) for at least one, and at most three months of the year.

This unique ecosystem has enabled over 300 species of plants and trees to grow in the valley, however, it is still considered “species poor” due to the isolated position which makes it difficult for plants with heavy seed to invade.

While there are some places in Greenland where man-made forests have been planted, Qinngua Valley is the only undisturbed biome where nature has found a haven from Greenland’s harsh winters.

Species in the valley include: downy birches (Betula pubescens), gray-leaf willows (Salix glauca), and Greenlandic mountain ash (Sorbus groenlandica), which can grow to heights of up to 7-8 metres.

There is speculation that the lower valleys in Greenland’s southern fjords might have once harboured comparable ecosystems to the Qinngua Valley. However, these ecosystems were likely cleared by Norse settlements, who felled trees for construction and fuel, and allowed their sheep and goats to graze freely.

Previous investigations by archaeologists around the Qinngua Valley area have uncovered remnants of a Norse settlement, including traces of residential structures and livestock pens and byres, situated at the top of Eiríksfjörðr (Tunulliarfik fjord).

An analysis of the pollen assemblage zone suggests that occupation of the site spanned from approximately AD 1020 to 1380. Moreover, the pollen data reveals a decline in birch tree and shrub pollen, accompanied by a slight rise in grass pollen, indicating a reduction in woodland area and an expansion of grasslands during this period.

Some scholars argue that this settlement was actually Brattahlíð, Erik the Red’s estate, but this has since been identified to be the located at Qassiarsuk at the head of the Tunulliarfik Fjord.

Header Image Credit : Alamy – Viktor Posnov

Sources : Edwards, Kevin J., J. Edward Schofield, and Jette Arneborg. “Was Erik the Red’s Brattahlið Located at Qinngua? A Dissenting View.” Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 6 (2010): 83–99. Web. | Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management – The Forest Plantations in The Greenlandic Arboretum.

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Excavations uncover traces of Kraków Fortress

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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 www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Excavations at Sheffield Castle uncover city’s industrial heritage

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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 www.wessexarch.co.uk/events

Header Image Credit : Wessex Archaeology

Sources : Wessex Archaeology

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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