The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway 9781407315164, 9781407344652

This book examines the Northern (Stone Age) rock art of central Norway, which is dominated by images of marine and terre

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The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway
 9781407315164, 9781407344652

Table of contents :
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Front Cover
Title Page
Table of Contents
List of Figures and Table

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________ Kalle Sognnes was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1945. He studied at the universities of Bergen and Oslo, and received his Magister artium at the University of Bergen 1973. Starting in 1976, he was employed at the University Museum in Trondheim, and from 2003 at the Department of Archaeology and Religious Studies, in the Faculty of Humanities. He is a member of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters.


This book examines the Northern (Stone Age) rock art of central Norway, which is dominated by images of marine and terrestrial motifs. It focuses on how these images were drawn and are classified, on the topographical location of the sites, on their dating and cultural context, and on the relationship between rock art and material culture, and offers possible interpretations.

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway Kalle Sognnes

BAR International Series 2837 9 781407 315164



The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway Kalle Sognnes

BAR International Series 2837 2017

Published in 2017 by BAR Publishing, Oxford BAR International Series 2837 The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway © Kalle Sognnes 2017 The Author’s moral rights under the 1988 UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act are hereby expressly asserted. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be copied, reproduced, stored, sold, distributed, scanned, saved in any form of digital format or transmitted in  any form digitally, without the written permission of the Publisher.

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List of Figures and Table Preface

v xi

1. INTRODUCTION Background Aims and methods Terminology Study area History of research Documentation Sites and panels Chapter by chapter

1 1 3 4 6 8 9 11 16

2. FROM ’ART’ TO VISUAL CULTURE Echoes from a distant part Discovering rock art Preliminary interpretations Visual culture Stone Age in central Norway Ambiguous animal symbolism Conclusions

18 18 19 23 24 26 29 30

3. CLASSIFICATIONS Images and style Techniques Subject matter Classifying rock art Styles in Northern rock art Rethinking styles? Conclusions

32 32 33 34 42 45 49 50

4. DRAWING ANIMALS Animals on rocks Deconstructing cervids Constructing cervids Birds Marine mammals and fish Compositions and perspective Conclusions

52 52 53 57 63 64 65 67

5. LOCATIONS Rock art landscapes Landscapes as context Regional level Site level Panel level Habitations and killing sites Conclusions

69 69 70 74 80 86 89 90


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway 6. AGE AND CULTURAL CONTEXT Dating methods Weathering Stratigraphy Techniques Comparisons Styles Land uplift Cultural contexts Conclusions

92 92 93 94 99 99 104 106 110 111

7. PRESENCE Interpreting rock art Encounters Onto the rocks Place and presence Communication Symbols Identities Ritual landscapes Between worlds Conclusions

114 114 114 116 118 123 126 127 133 134 136

8. MULTIPLE WORLDS Schools of interpretation Ancient religions Myths Liminality Shamanism Hunting magic Animism Conclusions

138 138 138 141 143 144 150 153 157

9. CONCLUSIONS Summing up Representativeness Images Several phases? Migrations Religion and rituals Contacts Encounters Ethnicity At the end

159 159 161 163 164 165 167 168 170 171 173

10. CATALOGUE Møre and Romsdal Sør-Trøndelag Nord-Trøndelag Nordland

175 175 177 179 182





Figures 1.

The number of rock art papers mentioned in Nordic Archaeological Abstracts in 1974-1988. Vertical axis = number of abstracted papers, horizontal axis = number of individual authors



Distribution of Northern tradition rock art sites in central Norway



The Bøla reindeer drawn around 1870, probably by David Habel; the drawing being photographed and sold as a souvenir card by the Steinkjer photographer Lars Bach



The Bogge I panel at Bogge in Nesset documented in 1890 (Ziegler 1901)



Full-scale tracing by L- G- A. Smits of an elk painting at Nerhol I in Oppdal



A: Elcctronic scanning of supposed skier at Rødøya in Alstahaug made by J. O. Swantesson. B: Gjessing’s original tracing of the carving



The main part of the Bøla I panel in Steinkjer, with numerous superimpositions (after Gjessing 1936)



Drawing (A) and tracings of the Bøla reindeer. A. Lossius 1896, B. Hallström 1907, C: Gjessing 1936, D: Hagen 1981, E: Sognnes 1981



The skier at Bøla IV (photo P. Hasselroth, © NTNU Museum)



Fish and geometric design at Honnhammar II in Tingvoll (author’s photo, colour manipulated)


11. Incisions on wood from Bjønsvatnet, a lake in Oppdal (after L. Gustafseon 1986b)




Decorated slate points. A from Bøen in Alstahaug, B from Vikan in Hitra. (author’s drawings)

13. Whale-shaped slate knife from Nunfjord in Åfjord (author’s drawing)


14. Slate dagger from Brynhildsvollen in Røros (© NTNU Museum)


15. Fish-shaped slate knives. A from Myklebostad in Rana, B from Eikrem in Aukra (author’s drawings)



Decorated stone slab with incised, single-line quadrupeds, from Grut in Meldal (author’s drawing)


17. Whale figurine from Asmundvåg in Hitra (© NTNU Museum)


18. Bird-like boat images: A from Hammer, B from Evenhus, C from Hovden, Bremanger, Sogn and Fjordane, D from Røkke (after Gjessing 1936; Mandt 1991 and Sognnes 2001)


19. Initial body segments of cervids resembling boats and slate knives. A from Evenhus, B from Bogge, C from Rykkje, Kvam, Hordaland (originals after Gjessing 1936 and Bakka 1973)


20. Elk at Evenhus in Frosta (after Gjessing 1936)


21. Red deer (?) at Bogge in Nesset (after Gjessing 1936)


22. Reindeer at Hell in Stjørdal (after Sognnes 1981b)


23. A school of flounders or halibuts at Selset in Inderøy (after Gjessing 1936)


24. Whale at Hammer VII in Steinkjer (after Bakka 1988)


25. Bird with intestines at Lånke in Stjørdal (after Sognnes 1983)


26. Imaginary animal at Rødsand in Averøy (after Sognnes 1996)



The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway 27. Skiers and anthropomorphs from A: Bøla in Steinkjer; B: Bardal in Steinkjer; C: Lånke in Stjørdal; D: Alta, Finnmark; E: Zalavruga, northern Russia (after Gjessing 1936; Savvateeyev 1977; Sognnes 1983; 2007 and Helskog 1988)


28. Possible sexual symbols. A: Lånke, B-C: Honnhammaren, Tingvoll D: Rødsand, Averøy E: Strand, Osen F: Hammer, Steinkjer G: Bøla, Steinkjer. B and C are paintings (after Sognnes 1983; 1996b; 2011 and Bakka 1988)


29. Northern boat images. A-C: Hammer, Steinkjer D-F: Evenhus, Frosta (after Gjessing 1936 and Bakka 1988)


30. Another boat type? A: Holte, B: Hommelvik, Malvik, C: Ekeberg, Oslo, D: Tennes, Troms, E: Gåshopen, Finnmark (after Gjessing 1932; Engelstad 1934; Simonsen 1958 and Sognnes 1981)


31. Possible shaman drums from A: Skavberg, Troms, B: Bogge, Nesset, C: Rødsand, Averøy (after Gjessing 1936, Simonsen 1958 and Sognnes 1996)


32. Selection of framed geometric designs from A: Vistnesdalen, Vevelstad. B: Sylte, Surnadal, C: Bardal, Steinkjer, D: Strand, Osen, E: Holte, Levanger, F: Berg, Verdal (after Gjessing 1936; Møllenhus 1968b and Sognnes 1989; 2008)


33. Gjessing’s (1936) style groups in central Norway, with later adjustments


34. Bakka’s (1973) types at Vingen, Sogn and Fjordane; names of types are added


35. Cervids from central and west Norway sorted according to Gjessing’s and Simonsen’s style sequences. AB: style I, C-H: style II, I-J style III, K-L style IV


36. Geometric shapes preferred for drawings cervids. A and B from Bogge, Nesset, C from Vingen, Bremanger, Sogn and Fjordane (after Bøe 1932 and Gjessing 1936)


37. Elk heads from A: Lånke, Stjørdal and B: Holte , Levanger (after Sognnes 1981; 1983)


38. Deconstructed images of cervids from central Norway. A: Berg, Verdal, B: Evenhus, Frosta, C: Bogge, Nesset, D: Bardal, Steinkjer. Breaking points, end points and crossing points are marked with dots and circles (originals after Gjessing 1936 and Sognnes 2008)


39. Drawing sequences for cervids at Bogge, Nesset (originals after Gjessing 1936)


40. Drawing sequences for cervids at Rødsand, Averøy (originals after Sognnes 1996a; Kleiva 2006)


41. Drawing sequences for cervids at Honnhammaren, Tingvoll (originals after Gjessing 1936; Sognnes 1994a and Linge 2014)


42. Drawing sequences for cervids at Stykket, Rissa (originals after Sognnes 1983)


43. Drawing sequences for cervids at Hell, Stjørdal (originals after Sognnes 1981)


44. Drawing sequences for cervids at Evenhus, Frosta (originals after Gjessing 1936)


45. Drawing sequences for cervids at Holte, Levanger (originals after Møllenhus 1968b)


46. Drawing sequences for cervids at Hammer, Steinkjer (originals after Bakka 1988)


47. Drawing sequences for cervids at Bardal, Steinkjer (originals after Gjessing 1936)


48. Drawing sequences for cervids at Vistnesdalen, Alstahaug (originals after Sognnes 1989)


49. Initial body segments used to draw cervids in central Norway


50. Bird images from A: Lånke, Stjørdal, B: Horjem, Snåsa, C: Bøla, Steinkjer, D: Hammer, Steinkjer (originals after Sognnes 1983; 2007b and Bakka 1988)


51. Images representing cetaceans. A: Reppen, Fosnes, B: Evenhus, Frosta, C: Hammer, Steinkjer, D: Strand, Osen



List of Figures and Table 52. Superimposed elk at Bardal, Steinkjer, may represent a way of presenting a perspective-like image of an elk herd (original from Gjessing 1936)


53. A new perspective on the Bøla site, Steinkjer emphasising its location on the riverbank. Bøla II is in the middle of the upper left cascade, Bøla I further to the left on the same rock (photo E. M. Skeie 2004)


54. Postglacial maximum sea levels in the Trøndelag region (after Sveian and Solli 1997a; © NGU)


55. The distribution of Northern rock art in the main Nordmøre fjord systems


56. The distribution of known Northern rock art sites in Bjugn, Sør-Trøndelag; sea level at + 55 m. The location of the Ervik boulder is not known


57. Nerhol II, Oppdal on the River Driva (author’s photo 2005)


58. Drawing sequences for cervids at Glösa, Krokom, Jämtland, Sweden (originals after Hallström 1938)


59. The Tønsåsen ridge at the mouth of the Stjørdal valley, with a shoreline 30 m above present sea level. The Lånke panels are marked (after Sognnes 1994a)


60. T. Petersen documenting the Varghiet I, panel in 1928 (© NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet)


61. The relationship between changing raised shorelines and maritime deposits on a gently sloping bottom with beach bars (A) and eroded terraces (B). a and b represent contemporary settlement sites; 1 and 2 sea levels contemporary with a and b, respectively (after Sognnes 1975)


62. The Bjørset boulders, Molde (© NTNU Museum)


63. The location of the Finnli carving, Lierne (author’s photo 2002)


64. Rock ’eyes’ at Bardal I (author’s photo 2008)


65. The Vistnesdalen panels are located on two small outcrops consisting of serpentinite within a large settlement site (© NTNU Museum)


66. The Sandhalsen rock shelter at Vasstrand in Åfjord during its excavation in 1931, with T. Petersen in the foreground (©NTNU Museum)


67. Radiocarbon dates from the Helvete cave at Røst, Nordland (A), Solsem cave in Leka (B-D) and Sandhalsen I rock shelter in Åfjord (E-G)


68. Schematic presentation of Stone Age epicenter and distribution of Bronze Age and Iron Age engravings at the Bardal I panel, Steinkjer (cf. figure 7)


69. Distribution of the major motifs on the Evenhus V panel, Frosta (original from Gjessing 1936)


70. Detail of a ’polished’ rock carving at Vågan in Bodø, Nordland (author’s photo 2004)


71. Whale images with double central lines through the body. A from Lånke, Stjørdal, B from Hammer, Steinkjer (after Sognnes 1983 and Bakka 1988)


72. Segmented drawing of an elk at Luine, Valcamonica, Italy (after Anati 2004)


73. Whale-shaped slate knife from Teksdal, Bjugn, decorated with incised whale images (author’s drawing)


74. Single-line quadrupeds from Northern (A-C) and Southern (D-E) tradition rock art. A-B from Bogge, Nesset, C from Holte, Levanger, D-F from Fordal, Stjørdal


75. Suggested dates for Northern rock art style groups in central Norway (after Sognnes 1998)


76. Land uplift curve from Verdal, Nord-Trøndelag. The width of the curve represents one standard deviation for 14C dates from the respective millennium (based on the original in Sveian and Olsen 1984)


77. Maximum dates for a sample of rock art panels in central Norway (after Sognnes 2003)


78. The Bardal I panel, Steinkjer contains around 350 rock engravings from different periods E. M. Skeie photo)



The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway 79. Documenting the first encounter between rock art and researchers at Reppen, Fosnes. The originally horizontal boulder was about to be blasted when the carvings were discovered (© NTNU Museum)


80. Natural marks resembling animal drawings on rocks. A: Åmnes, Meløy, Nordland; B. Högberget, Sollefteå, Västerbotten, Sweden (author’s photos)


81. Steinmohaugen hillock with the Hell site in Stjørdal seen from the Tønsåsen ridge (author’s photo 2014)


82. Theoretical group territories in the Helgeland district with the location of rock art sites at the mouth of Vefnsfjord marked; circles = Northern rock art, diamonds = Southern tradition sites (after Pettersen 1985)


83. The slope in front of the Honnhammar I panel, Steinkjer has no room for spectators; author’s photo (© NTNU Museum)


84. Large ’naturalistic’ cervids. A-D from central Norway, E-I from northern Norway (originals from Gjessing 1932; 1936 and Sognnes 1981)


85. Simplified version of the distribution of the main motifs on the Evenhus V panel in Frosta. M marks the location of the ’male’ symbols (elk), F/f the location of the ’female’ symbols (whales) and B the location of the boat images


86. Eighteenth-century model of an Inuit umiak from Greenland in the collections of the NTNU Museum, Trondheim (© NTNU Museum)


87. Motifs from Sami drums that appear to be represented in the Northern rock art of central Norway (originals from Manker 1971)


88. Reindeer under the Northern Lights at Hell in Stjørdal? (after Sognnes 1981)


89. Reconstruction of ancient Saami world view (after Mulk and Bayliss-Smith 2006)


90. Decoration on a Southern Sami drum at the NTNU Museum in Trondheim (after T. Petersen 1931b)


91. Possible shamans from (A) Nerhol I in Oppdal and (B) from Honnhammar VIII in Tingvoll (author’s drawings)


92. Sami shaman with drum drawn by Fillippo Bonanni in the early eighteenth century (after Bonanni 1964)


93. Shamanistic trance visions of cervids (?) at Holte I in Levanger, Nord-Trøndelag (author’s photo 2014; paint added in the early 1970s)


94. An incomplete whale hunting scene at Vasstrand in Åfjord is superimposed by a painted elk (compiled from Sognnes 1994b and Lindgaard 2011)


95. Large, polished elk image at Vågan, Bodø, Nordland (author’s photo 2008)


96. Face-like structures at Bøla, Steinkjer (E. M. Skeie photo 2004)


97. Elk coming out of the rock (?) at Stykket, Rissa (after Sognnes 1981)


98. Door-like structure decorated with paintings at Heggvik, Bjugn (author’s photo 2003)


99. Discoveries of Northern rock art sites in central Norway sorted into 20-year periods


100. Construction sequences for selected quadrupeds in central Norway


101. Rock art distribution in central Norway and northern Sweden; squares = paintings; dots = Northern carvings; hatched areas = Southern Scandinavian tradition rock art (after Sognnes 2002)


102. Tracing of rock carvings at Reiten, Midsund (after Møllenhus 1964)


103. The Bjørset I boulder, Molde (tracing by E. Bakka)


104. Tracing of whale carvings at Søbstad, Averøy (after Sognnes 1996)


105. Tracing of part of the Rødsand I panel, Averøy (after Sognnes 1996)


106. The author’s tracing of the carvings on the Sylte boulder, Surnadal


107. The author’s tracing of the carvings on the Rein boulder, Rissa



List of Figures and Table 108. The main image at Mølnargården, Bjugn (author’s photo)


109. The author’s tracing of the fish painting at Teksdal, Bjugn


110. The author’s tracing of Hommelvik II, Malvik


111. Tracing of the carvings at Lånke II, Sjørdal (after Sognnes 1982)


112. Carvings at Berg IIIA, Verdal (tracing by E. Bakka 1975)


113. Tracing of whales at Skjevik I, Steinkjer (after Bakka and Gaustad 1975)


114. Tracing of the carvings on the Bøla IVA panel, Steinkjer (after Sognnes 2011)


115. Part of the author’s tracing of Horjem I, Snåsa


116. The author’s tracing of the elk at Nykjønnan, Western Finnli common land, Lierne


117. Part of a tracing of the Reppen I panel, Fosnes (after Sognnes 1981)


118. Tracing of the Vistnesdalen I panel, Vevelstad (after Sognnes 1989)


Table I. Arctic sites and images in central Norway




More or less systematic rock art studies have been conducted in Norway for almost 200 years, starting with J. Neumann’s (1824) and W. F. K, Christie’s (1837) investigations at Leirvåg on Atløy Island in Sunnfjord, Sogn and Fjordane, western Norway (Mandt 1976). Neumann was bishop in Bergen and Christie governor of the provinces of Hordaland and Sogn and Fjordane and were the founding fathers of Bergen’s Museum that later became the University of Bergen. Older descriptions do, however, exist that describe rock art in Norway, the most important being Peder Alfssøn’s report from 1627 about rock carvings in Bohuslän, which was a central Norwegian province until the middle of the 17th century.

region’s Southern, Bronze Age tradition rock art that was most in need of documentation and study and decided to focus on the sites belonging to that tradition. After all, Gjessing’s work on the Stone Age rock art was well known, although a substantial number of ‘new’ sites had been discovered in the years after the publication of his monograph. The fieldwork continued, especially on the rock paintings, but my further study of the Northern Stone Age rock art in central Norway, temporarily was put on hold. As I see it today, this delay gave me time and opportunity to develop a different way of seeing and studying these images. Gjessing’s work and other studies from the 1920s and 1930s held a paradigmatic grip on the ways later scholars were thinking Northern rock art with foci on chronology and on a style-based classification with rather superficially described styles. Further, post-World War II studies of rock art were conducted by a limited number of scholars both in Norway and elsewhere in Scandinavia. Most articles were presentations of new discoveries, all within the framework of pre-war archaeology. I soon realised that Gjessing’s styles and chronological entities were questionable but since his system was based on a few sites around Trondheimsfjord, were I primarily was working, I did some preliminary studies where I tried to combine his and mine ways of looking into this art.

Oluf Rygh, professor of history at the Royal Frederik’s University in Oslo in 1873 published a list of known rock art sites in Norway. The list contained 164 entries, of which 6 from the region being covered by this study (O. Rygh 1873). At this time his younger brother, Karl Rygh, was curator of the antiquity collections in the museum of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters in Trondheim (now: Vitenskapsmuseet at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, here referred to as the NTNU Museum). When Rygh started in this job three years earlier he listed the study of rock art as being among his main tasks (K. Rygh 1870). His early systematic studies were followed up by all later generations of archaeologists at this museum (Sognnes 2007a). The existence of two different rock art traditions was recognised after the discoveries of new and different sites in the 1890s in central Norway in particular.

Finding that the trunks of many images rendering cervids drawn in the claimed later styles represented three distinct geometric bodies, I realised that the images could be looked at from a different non-stylistic perspective. It was, however, two separate happenings that led to my solution of this problem. Together with two students, I investigated some lines found on a large erratic boulder that looked like a rendering of a cervid. The lines were, however, accidentally made by a machine when the boulder was moved some metres to give way for a ski pist. To me this led to a shift in focus; I rediscovered the image behind the style.

When I started my work as a curator at this museum forty years ago I was familiar with Gutorm Gjessing’s (1936) study of this rock art but I had never visited any of the sites. However, Anders Hagen, professor of Archaeology at the University of Bergen shortly after initiated a project for documenting the state of preservation for the rock art in Norway. It so happened that I had a BSc degree majoring in geology and had the great pleasure of assisting Gro Mandt in her fieldwork during her studies of the rock art in Western Norway. These two, together with Egil Bakka, who also studied rock art and taught archaeology at the University of Bergen, strongly influenced my interest for this subject, and I took on the tedious task of driving from site to site in central Norway, identifying and at least partly clean rock art panels and, in particular, documenting damages.

Some years later I presented some of my then latest work at a Valcamonica symposium in Paris (Sognnes 2007b), talking about similarities between cervid images, presenting in a standardised way tracings from some sites. For each site, however, I presented the varieties represented. I retrospect I realised that dissimilarities were more significant then similarities, which led to a change of focus, to how these images actually were constructed and further to an improved tool for comparisons between sites and regions.

After the first field season I had seen more rock art sites in the region than any other then living archaeologist – and I was hooked. I realised, however, that it was the


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway Already in the 1870s a few regional museums were appointed responsible for the ancient monument care and archaeological investigations within its region. To some extent this system today is changed but most archaeological studies in Norway still have a regional perspective, which makes it difficult to get a full overview of and personal experience with the total record. This is the case also for this study, which is based on more than thirty years of field walking, documenting, thinking, and rethinking about the rock art in central Norway, hence the relatively narrow geographical focus of this study. On the other hand, as will be demonstrated, the rock art of this region regarding motifs and distribution differs significantly from what we find in other Scandinavian regions.

For my work on the rock paintings I had financial support from the Norwegian Research Council, which made it possible in an early phase to work in cooperation with Kristen Michelsen, University of Bergen and Lucas G. Smits, former at the University of Lesotho. A number of students wrote their master theses on topics relevant this study. Their works are referred to in the following text. I thank the all for their interest and contributions to this long lasting project. For me writing this monographs I have benefitted from master theses written by some of my students, who are referred to in due course. I thank Dr. Paul G. Bahnd who read and commented on an early draft. Further I thank Richard Binns for reading the proofs and improving my English. My most sincere thanks go, however, to my wife Eli Antonisen for her patience and support during all these years.

Most of the work was financed as part of my daily work at NTNU Museum and at the Department of Archaeology and Religious Studies, Faculty of the Humanities, NTNU.



Trondheimsfjord, some in the fjord districts in northern parts of the county Møre and Romsdal, and some along the coast between Molde and Brønnøysund. The southern rock art sites are found in the Trondheimsfjord area too, but mostly in valleys from this fjord towards mountain areas, above all in the Stjørdal Valley (Sognnes 2001a) but also in the Gauldal Valley (Marstrander and Sognnes 1999), some also at the shores of Lake Selbusjøen (Sognnes 2005). White the northern sites are located on land previously submerged by the sea most southern sites are located at ancient river terraces.

Background This monograph covers the Northern rock art tradition sites known in central Norway today, and is based on many years of studying this art. Normally, the term ’central Norway’ is used for the counties of SørTrøndelag and Nord-Trøndelag, but here I follow the borders of the earlier Nidaros diocese, which, in addition, included parts of the counties of Møre and Romsdal and Nordland. In this area, the museum of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Humanities has been and still is responsible for excavations and curating archaeological finds, now under the name of NTNU 1 Museum.

Three large Northern sites are known from Scandinavia: Vingen, western Norway (e.g. Bøe 1932; Lødøen and Mandt 2012), Nämforsen, northern Sweden (e.g. Hallström 1938; Forsberg 1993; 2011), and Alta, northern Norway (e.g. Helskog 1988; 2012a). Most sites are located north of a line between Vingen and Nämforsen at many small, scattered locations along the North Atlantic coast of Norway and on ancient shorelines along the Gulf of Bothnia in Sweden, as well as in a belt between these coasts from Nämforsen westwards to Trondheimsfjord in central Norway.

For more than a century, the prehistoric rock art of Scandinavia has been divided into two major rock art traditions, a Northern (here spelled with a capital N) tradition represented by mostly zoomorphic images (rock carvings and paintings) and a Southern tradition dominated by images of boats, footprints, humans and, above all, cup-marks (for the Southern tradition rock art in central Norway, see Sognnes 2001a). Neither of these two rock art traditions shows a statistically random distribution; they are clustered in some regions while other regions appear to be void. If we, like Povl Simonsen (1974), draw lines encircling the geographical distribution of each tradition we find a large degree of overlap between them, but this is an illusion. Most sites belonging to the Southern tradition are found in southern parts of Sweden and Norway with a core area in the county of Bohuslän, Sweden, and the adjacent county of Østfold, Norway, while most sites belonging to the Northern tradition are found in the northern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Images belonging to this tradition are, however, also found in southern parts of Norway as well as in Bohuslän and Värmland in Sweden. I call Simonsen’s distribution map an illusion because neither of these rock art traditions are represented all over their claimed distribution areas; for both traditions, the sites known today are clustered. The distributions of these clusters show that both traditions are seldom represented in the same regions. In general, there are large gaps between the clusters, where no rock art is known.

The Northern tradition in general has been dated to the Stone Age. The major part of the Southern Bronze Age tradition in this region has been presented and discussed earlier (Marstrander and Sognnes 1999; Sognnes 2001a; Grønnesby 2006). Based on work performed by Th. Petersen and himself, Gutorm Gjessing (1936) published the Northern rock art known in this region at that time. Gustaf Hallström, a Swedish archaeologist, studied this record, too, starting in 1907 (Hallström 1908), and finally published a large monograph on the Northern art in Norway two years after Gjessing (Hallström 1938). In these early monographs, the authors focused on presenting the material, mostly as drawings and/or tracings supplemented with photographs, but they also reflected about style, chronology, meaning and function. Cave paintings are known from central Norway, too, but these are not included in this work although they have been claimed to be part of the Northern rock art tradition. For a long time, Solsem cave on the island of Leka, NordTrøndelag (T. Petersen 1914; Gjessing 1936) was the only decorated cave known in Norway. Later, paintings have been discovered in four more caves within the study area (Marstrander 1965; Sognnes 1982; Johansen 1988; Vennatrø 2005), and ten further north in the county of Nordland (Sognnes 1982; Bjerck 1995; 2012). Gjessing

Returning to central Norway most Northern sites are found at the central and inner parts of the NTNU = the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.



The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway treated these images together with the open-air images, although he dated a slate arrowhead, and hence the paintings found in Solsem cave, to the Bronze Age or perhaps even later. It was the painted red images that made him link cave art and open-air rock art paintings as part of the same tradition, dating all paintings to the Early Bronze Age (Gjessing 1936, 180-181). Later, radiocarbon dates from Solsem cave demonstrated that this cave was visited during the Early Bronze Age, and also later (chapter six). Locations, dates and motifs together make me believe that the cave art in coastal central and northern Norway represents a regional art tradition of its own. It is therefore not included in this study. Furthermore, this art has been presented and discussed in a number of recent works (Sognnes 1982; 2009; 2013b; Bjerck 1995; 2012).

Figure 1. The number of rock art papers mentioned in Nordic Archaeological Abstracts in 1974-1988. Vertical axis = number of papers, horizontal axis = number of authors.

Most basic thinking about Northern rock art in Norway, including how the material was to be studied, was done in the 1930s. A ‘black box’ (Latour 1987) was created, which later generations have left unopened. The primary aim when this series of monographs on rock art was produced in Norway from the 1930s onwards was to document and present the material known at that time (Gjessing 1932, 8; Engelstad 1934, 9). It was a national documentation project sponsored by the Institute of Comparative Human Research. At that time, interpreting the art was of secondary interest.

1974-1988, 176 authors contributed to the rock art discourse, 116 of them publishing only one article. These articles normally consist of descriptions; new discoveries were presented within the framework of established interpretations mostly meant for a lay audience. I found that a small group of researchers, 12 to be exact, published five or more articles (Figure 1); these scholars, two of whom were dead in 1988, formed the active group of Nordic rock art specialists at that time. Some of the remaining 10 scholars are still active today. The total number of entries was around 11 000, of which around 330 dealt with rock art (Sognnes 1991). To my knowledge, no similar study exists for the period since 1988, but activity within this field is clearly greater today as shown by master and doctoral theses presented at several Nordic universities. However, it is not known whether this interest has resulted in a relatively larger percentage of rock art entries in Nordic archaeology.

After the publication of Gjessing’s and Hallström’s monographs, the number of Northern rock art sites, as well as images, known in central Norway has more than tripled. Most of the additional sites and images are documented as tracings and published in local annals or as popular articles. Thus, most of the record on which this study is based is published, but it is largely unknown to a wider scholarly public. I am not presenting the entire material, but many examples of panels and individual images are presented as they relate to the text.

This analysis was done 25 years ago. My conclusion at that time was in general negative: ‘If the number of scholars does not increase there is great danger that rock art research will fall further behind contemporary archaeology. This may lead to an isolation, which eventually will nullify rock art research as a viable discipline in Northern Europe.’

Most documentation presented is based on my own work, but I have not had the opportunity to re-document the larger sites. I therefore also use tracings made by previous scholars. However, after many visits to these sites during some thirty years and having had the opportunity to study the original tracings, I consider these to be satisfactory for my purpose. The original tracings, rubbings, photographs, etc. are stored at the NTNU Museum in Trondheim.

However, something is happening. With the postprocessual archaeology the interest in symbols and symbolism has increased. The interest in North European rock art has also increased among scholars from nonNordic countries. There is, therefore, some hope and expectation for the future’ (Sognnes 1991, 77-78).

Some sites have been subject to analyses in master theses at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim (Lindgaard 1999; Stafseth 2006; Myrholt 2007; Smiseth 2007a; Sørensen 2008; Stebergløkken 2009). To this should be added my own analyses of some sites (Sognnes 2006; 2008a; 2011).

Malmer (1974, 72) emphasised that Swedish scholars for more than a century had focused on interpreting the rock art. However, most of the Swedish discourse dealt with the Southern tradition; the rich Bronze Age material culture with which this rock art was associated played an important part in Scandinavian archaeology. The study of the Northern rock art tradition was in its infancy in the 1930s and very few post-World War II studies (e.g. Simonsen 1958; Møllenhus 1968b) of this rock art appeared before 1970, when Anders Hagen (1970)

The narrow focus on documentation and dating within this research tradition, continued for decades. One reason for this was the few researchers studying rock art. As evidenced by publications abstracted in Nordic Archaeological Abstracts during the fifteen years period 2

Introduction published his study of the Ausevik site in Sogn and Fjordane, western Norway.

investigate all of these ‘new’ panels, in particular the paintings, which often are difficult to identify and decipher.

Malmer noted that the study of rock art was less successful than other archaeological specialities in its interpretations of the record; perhaps, he suggested, the reason for this was that the specialists focused too strongly on this problem. He saw the isolation of rock art studies from contemporary archaeological trends as representing a potential danger. Quoting Moberg (1970), he stated that rock art research might be better with less focus on rock art alone (Malmer 1972, 74-75).

Earlier scholars (e.g. Shetelig 1922; Engelstad 1934; Gjessing 1936; Simonsen 1958) sorted the images, whether carvings or paintings, into different styles. These rather rough categories were based on series of dichotomies: large vs. small images, ‘naturalistic’ vs. schematic images, images with internal line patterns vs. images without such patterns, etc. To some extent, the execution techniques played a role, too: carvings vs. paintings, and pecked vs. polished vs. incised carvings. I soon realised that these categories might be too cursory and simplistic (Helskog 1989). In addition, the way the images actually were constructed was in general not taken into consideration (Mikkelsen 1977b), being documented in two dimensions only. To some extent, this was due to how the images were documented, being traced on semi-transparent paper before being reduced manually into formats suitable for reproduction in books. Tracing on polystyrene sheets combined with photographic reduction has changed this, but tracings still tend to ignore details like individual peck marks (where this is possible) that together form the lines (Stebergløkken 2016).

Apparently Norwegian archaeologists have been less concerned with interpreting the rock art than their Swedish colleagues. The situation has, however, changed in later years; for instance, Knut Helskog (e.g. 1999; 2012) has systematically explored the Alta rock art on the interpretation level. Admittedly, in the present work I follow the Norwegian tradition of focusing on the images and on classification. However, this is because I came to reject the work of my predecessors, finding the classification systems created in the 1930s, and which are still in use, to be inadequate and thus useless as a basis for interpretations.

A central part of this work has been to study the images on hitherto unexplored levels in order to lay a foundation for further in-depth studies. I focus on how the images were drawn, but still ignore the width or depth of the furrows as well as the paint used because no relevant information is available. Based on stylistic ‘similarities’, scholars have postulated contact between the artists who made the rock art not only within central Norway but also between these sites and sites in other parts of northern Scandinavia. Preliminary work (Sognnes 2010), however, showed that these conclusions might be erroneous. In spite of superficial similarities, dissimilarities seem to dominate. Do these images have more in common than being part of the narrow range of motifs that we today classify as rock art? In principle, my studies at this level are non-stylistic.

Aims and methods At the beginning of the twentieth century, the rock art of Scandinavia was sorted into two genres or traditions (Hansen 1904, Brøgger 1906). At that time, the concept of ‘Arctic Stone Age’ was used for the material culture of northern Scandinavia, which was dominated by artefacts made from schist, slate and other local rocks (e.g. Brøgger 1909). The then recently discovered rock art tradition, which was dominated by large prey animals in northern parts of Norway, was given a corresponding name, Arctic rock art. Parallel to this, the tradition dominated by boats and cup-marks found further south was referred to as Southern Scandinavian (e.g. K. Rygh 1908). However, Gjessing (1936) introduced an alternative, functionalistic terminology based on the supposed subsistence economies of the makers of this rock art, using the terms veideristninger (hunters’ carvings) and jordbruksristninger (farmers’ carvings), respectively. These terms were widely accepted in Norway, helping to cement certain attitudes to and interpretations of rock art among scholars in the 1900s.

I follow up my earlier studies of the Northern rock art as part of a visual culture that can also be identified in contemporary material culture: decorations on artefacts, the shape of slate knives, and figurines (Sognnes 2008b). Gjessing (1945) had already done this for Norway and Janson (1962) for Jämtland in northern Sweden. Magnus and Myhre (1976, 111) suggested that some small naturalistic Stone Age figurines found in Norway should be compared with the ‘naturalistic’ rock images, both apparently having their origin in northern Norway. However, these two groups of prehistoric ‘art’ apparently belong to different periods, the rock art to the Mesolithic and the figurines to the Neolithic. Implicit in this is the need to re-evaluate the dating of the large ‘naturalistic’ rock carvings. They omitted this statement in later editions of their book (e.g. Magnus and Myhre 1986). But, what if their original suggestion is correct?

As stated above, the record has been more than tripled since the major works on Northern rock art in central Norway were published. Therefore, it is about time that the total record is studied in the same way — and other ways. Originally it was my intention to publish this record as tracings supplemented with photographs, making this monograph directly comparable to earlier works, but I decided to drop this part, mainly because new discoveries are made more or less regularly (e.g. Linge 2014) and I have not had the opportunity to fully 3

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway In my work as an archaeologist for more than four decades, the relationship between humans and nature has played an important role; this also holds true for my rock art studies. I have as a starting point for this work that the location of rock art in the landscape was no coincidence (Nash 2000), but the result of human experiences in certain environments, at certain places and at certain rocks or boulders. These experiences would change as soon as the first rock art was made.

In addition, I will look into how Northern rock art has been and is interpreted viewed in the light of international research trends. Here, the question is whether these interpretations can explain the making, use and meaning of Northern rock art as well, with central Norway as the study area, an area in which the distribution of rock art differs from other Scandinavian regions where a few very large sites dominate, like Vingen (Lødøen and Mandt 2012), Alta, (Helskog 2012) and Nämforsen (Hallström 1938).

Norwegian scholars in particular have focused on the fact that the majority of the sites are located near the sea in areas that were submerged during the Early Holocene, which led to a strong focus on dating by means of ancient shore levels. The panels are, however, located at many different kinds of topographical features and these differences may influence our interpretations of the sites; was the rock art located near dwelling sites, at meeting places, or at remote places reserved for esoteric ceremonies and rituals? Through systematic studies of local topographies I hope to come closer to answering these questions. These answers may also influence our understanding of the relationship between land and sea as experienced by humans within a landscape that has changed continuously during the Holocene.

My thoughts and reflections around this rock art have developed partly from the regional and partly from the international discourse. By evaluating what has been done so far, I try to make a foundation for new and alternative thinking that might replace the twentieth century ‘paradigms’ of hunting magic as well as ‘style’. This is done by going deeper into the corpus of images, partly by studying the images in more detail than has been done before and partly by studying the rock art in relation to the rocks on which they were carved or painted as well as to the surrounding landscapes. Terminology The term central Norway is a modern and rather vague concept marking a transitional zone between southern and northern Norway. This zone consists of the counties of Nord-Trøndelag and Sør-Trøndelag, but the northern districts of Romsdal and Nordmøre in the county of Møre and Romsdal are frequently included as well, as is the southern part of the county of Nordland. In practice, as the term is used here, it covers the part of Norway that lies between 62º 30’ and 66º 30’, that is, Sub-Arctic Norway, where, however, the climate is temperate.

Most Northern sites in Norway are located in areas that during Holocene have emerged from the sea. It is therefore possible to estimate the maximum age of the rock art in question. This has led to a prevailing axiom that virtually all Northern rock art was shore-bound (e.g. Gjessing 1945; Ramstad 2000; Kleiva 2006) partly based on the fact that in interior northern Sweden most rock art panels are located close to water, at lakes and rivers (Hallström 1938; Lindgren 2004). For more than half a century, the Northern rock art in Norway was interpreted within the paradigm of hunting magic. Today, this interpretation no longer holds its grip on research. Other religious interpretations have taken over: shamanism in particular, but also totemism. However, none of these alternative interpretations have yet reached a status similar to that of hunting magic, and probably never will. Here, I try to evaluate these proposed interpretations in a wider perspective and their possible relevance for the rock art within the study area. I will not, however, present a new general interpretation for this rock art.

The discipline of rock art studies unfortunately lacks a standardised terminology; this holds true in Norwegian as well as in English and other languages. While addressing this problem from a Norwegian point of view, Anders Hagen (1970) introduced the term bergkunst (rock art) as a common denominator for helleristninger (rock carvings) and hellemalinger or bergmalerier (rock paintings). By doing this, he solved one problem but created another because this new word includes the concept of kunst (art). At about the same time, Gro Mandt Larsen (1972) introduced the term bergbilder (rock pictures), which, however, has been little used. The concept of kunst (art) implies modern aesthetic connotations, which rock carvings and paintings in general are considered not to have. One of Norway’s leading twentieth century archaeologists, Haakon Shetelig (1925a, 96) claimed that some Northern ‘naturalistic’ rock carvings could be accepted as art, but, at the same time, he discarded the idea that the ‘schematic’ Southern rock art had any aesthetic qualities.

Compared with most rock art studies in Norway, I place relatively little emphasis on age and dating. Northern rock art probably was made during a long period, but the hitherto strong diachronic focus based on stylistic differences seems to have led nowhere. I therefore focus on studying the record from a synchronic perspective. Some of the observed differences may represent different phases and periods, but these changes are not caused by time; time does not create differences, it can only tell that changes took place, not why they happened. Consequently, we should at the moment focus on differences (and similarities) per se rather than on dating.

The English term rock art has proved equally difficult to use, as is demonstrated by rounds of debate in the periodical Rock Art Research (e.g. Odak 1991; 1992; Bahn 1992; Chippindale and Taçon 2006). Like many others, I recognise this problem, but yet continue to use 4

Introduction the term (Nash 2008, 2). Chippindale and Taçon (2006) used a hyphen between ‘rock’ and ‘art’. Malmer (1981) did, too, writing about rock-carvings in his classificatory study of the rock art in Scandinavia. Here, however, I have decided to use the term without a hyphen.

Scandinavia. Normally, these have been studied separately. Images belonging to both groups have further been sorted into styles and types. Since these terms also have other connotations, I here use the terms Northern and Southern tradition, respectively. The term tradition is also used for sorting North American rock art (e.g. Whitley 2002).

We are actually facing a major problem in rock art research, namely a frequent use of terms borrowed from art history, using these terms for a record that is considered non-art, dealing with material that, to a large extent, antedates any written or oral sources that might be used to explain the meaning and function of the images in question.

The terms style and type will be discussed in the chapters that follow. Until a century ago, Norway was dominated by a rural economy, with a few small cities and towns, the farm being the basic fiscal unit. Some farm names (and farms) are recent, but many existing farms were named already in the Iron Age and the Middle Ages (Olsen 1926). Traditionally, each rock art panel was given a name, which could be the name of the farm or a nearby field which had its own name, for instance the two Northern panels at Bardal Farm in Steinkjer located around 100 m apart, where one panel became known under the farm name Bardal and the other panel was named after a field called Lamtrøa where the farmer at that time kept his lambs (hence the name). For decades, this field has been used for other purposes and Lamtrøa no longer has any meaning except among archaeologists specialising on rock art and being familiar with Gjessing’s (1936) book.

In this work, I use a set of terms that are specific for rock art, whether we are dealing with paintings or carvings: Motif: constituent features and dominating ideas represented in rock art, for instance elk and whales; a motif may be represented by many images. Image: an artificial imitation of the external form of an object. This term should cover the vast majority of the rock carvings and paintings known in central Norway. However, I also use the term for geometric carvings and paintings that do not imitate any known object. The term is used whether the images are found on rock, or on boulders or stones.

I have therefore devised a naming system based on the farm name combined with a number. Thus, these two Bardal panels are called Bardal I and III, respectively. On this farm, panels with Southern tradition carvings exist, too, among them Bardal II discovered by Hallström (1907b). Unfortunately, most farm names are not unique; the same name may be found in several boroughs. Occasionally, rock art is known from two or more farms with identical names, for instance Berg in Verdal and Berg in Stjørdal. For this work, this is not a problem since the carvings at Berg in Stjørdal belong to the Southern tradition. Well-known, previously used, names are set in brackets in this text.

Rock carvings: images made by removing parts of the original rock surface whether by pecking or pounding, incision, polishing or scratching. Rock paintings: images made by paint being added to the rock surface. Contoured images: images drawn with a continuous line following the outline of the motif. Silhouette images: trunk, limbs, etc. are filled with paint or peck marks, the original surface of the rock being removed. Images may be partly contoured and partly drawn as a silhouette.

Using farm names in this way brings this naming and numbering system more in concordance with Norway’s official land property identification system, according to which each county, borough and farm has its own unique number. I have added the panel number to these official numbers. This may be exemplified by Bardal III, which can be identified under the number 150246403; 15 = county of Nord-Trøndelag, 02 = borough of Steinkjer, 464 = Bardal Farm, 03 = number of rock art panel identified at this farm.

Panel: A spatially discrete group of images, lines or cupmarks (Darwill 2014, 19). A rock outcrop or boulder may contain one or more panels. Each panel may be separated from other panels by local topography (cracks and fissures, ledges, etc.), but also by areas without any images or marks made by humans. Each panel has been assigned a unique name and number. Site: A place where rock art occurs. Each site consists of at least one panel. In general, one site only is found at a present-day farm and the site name given to the site refers to the farm at which it is located. However, at some farms the dispersion of the panels is so great that two or more sites can be identified, for instance at Honnhammaren in Tingvoll, Møre and Romsdal. Tradition: For more than a century, the rock art in Norway has been sorted into two major groups, one dominates in northern parts and one in southern parts of

Knut Helskog claimed that earlier Norwegian rock art studies in many ways act like a straightjacket for scholars of today. He was primarily concerned with concepts used to describe images and styles, but also with the acclaimed evolutionary development within the Northern rock art from large ‘naturalistic’ to small and hardly identifiable ‘schematic’ images (Helskog 1989, 88; cf. Hagen 1976). Helskog (1993) identified as the main problem the lack of adequate definitions of terms used. In particular, he found 5

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway it difficult to define the term ‘naturalistic’, because the way we experience and depict nature is individual and subjective. He exemplified this with the way modern citydwelling people see and experience reindeer compared to that of the Sami (Helskog 1989, 89). A city dweller may notice some differences, for instance size and colour, whereas the Sami have many different ways of describing the same animal. He also referred to the Sami dialect in western Finnmark, which has more than one thousand words related to the reindeer (Eira 1984, 59; here after Helskog 1989).

from art alone to images in a wider sense, dealing with visual culture (e.g. Elkins 2003). I see this term as a pendant to the term material culture, which is frequently used today in archaeological texts. Whether this concept is relevant for studies of prehistoric rock art will be discussed in chapter two. During my later work, I have found the frequently used terms ‘contour’, ‘contour line’ and ‘outline’ to be problematic when describing rock images. This is because I have tried to study the drawing processes and found that what is referred to as a ‘contour line’ may be constructed in many different ways, as one continuous line or as a set of line segments belonging to different body parts. This will be further developed in chapter four.

For the Alta record, Helskog (1989, 98) could not find any gradual schematic or degenerate development through time. Rather, he found that different degrees of schematising and stylistic differences in form, size and content were present in all phases and periods. Another problem is whether the variations we may observe had any bearings for the prehistoric people who made the rock art (Helskog 1989, 89). For the eastern Norwegian record, Mikkelsen (1977a) focused on similar problems. Following the style-dating paradigm, this rock art should be dated to the Late Neolithic or even the Bronze Age, but its relationship to ancient shorelines indicated a Mesolithic date, which was what Mikkelsen argued in favour of.

The Northern rock art site at Glösa in the county of Jämtland, northern Sweden, across the border from the Trøndelag counties, was described already in the seventeenth century (Hallström 1960, 62), but remained virtually unknown in spite of the growing interest in the rock art of southern Scandinavia in the nineteenth century. At that time, Scandinavian archaeologists hardly worked north of the sixtieth parallel. In Norway, archaeologists were on the scientific staff at regional museums in Trondheim and Tromsø, but they worked only part-time for the museums, being schoolteachers who did fieldwork during their summer holidays.

Terminology alone has not created this situation. While Helskog (2010) wanted to get away from the ‘tyranny of the figures’, I would claim that lack of interest among scholars for studying the images per se, that is, for classification and how the images were drawn, etc., is a major problem for a further development of Norwegian rock art studies. Classes and types remain obscure and are insufficiently defined and described. The foundation of Norwegian rock art research laid in the 1920s and -30s (T. Petersen 1922; 1926; Shetelig 1922; 1925a; Bøe 1932; Gjessing 1932; 1936; Engelstad 1934) was accepted as fact by the next generations, apparently with very few questions being asked whether this paradigm was a reliable interpretation or not. New discoveries were compared with known sites and images classified accordingly. All possible classificatory questions seemed to have been answered and all problems solved. These ‘facts’ were in reality factoids. Only Brøgger (1925) expressed scepticism towards this paradigm at the time it was about to be established.

Yet, rock art studies were on the agenda at the museum of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters (DKNVS) in Trondheim in 1870 (K. Rygh 1871), and systematic studies started a decade later (K. Rygh 1882; 1908). It was from this region the first new discoveries of a different kind of rock art were reported (Lossius 1896; 1897; 1899; Ziegler 1901; K. Rygh 1909) although a site at Skogerveien in the county of Buskerud, eastern Norway, was known some decades before 1870 (O. Rygh 1873; J. Petersen 1917). For some years, this new and hitherto unknown kind of rock art remained a curiosity, but soon the geologist and ethnographer Hansen (1904) supported by the archaeologist Brøgger (1906) claimed that these new discoveries represented a rock art tradition of its own. While the then well-known Southern tradition was dominated by cup-marks and images depicting boats, the Northern tradition was dominated by cervids; however, in central Norway in particular, a subtradition with maritime images, whales, fish, seals and boats together with aquatic birds, turned out to be present.

Style has played an important role in Norwegian rock art research. This concept and its relevance for rock art studies have, however, been severely criticised in the international discourse during the last decades. This criticism, however, deals not so much with style as such, but with the way different styles are used for dating purposes and for studies of origins and diffusion. The uses and relevance of style for the Northern rock art will be discussed in chapter four.

Study area The study area comprises around 21 per cent of mainland Norway (the High Arctic Svalbard archipelago not included) and is located on the western coast of the Scandinavian Peninsula, facing the North Atlantic. This coast consists of a myriad of islands, islets and skerries with fjords cutting deeply into the land. The largest fjord is Trondheimsfjord, which was more than 50 km longer during the Stone Age than it is today. Due to the still on-

Studying ‘rock art’ as art, using an aesthetic terminology, may seem like an impasse, but aesthetic thinking still appears to be relevant (Heyd and Clegg 2005). Art historians today are expanding their sphere of interest 6

Introduction Scandinavian corridor’, link important Northern rock art regions on either side of the watershed (Hallström 1938; 1960). The rock art of Scandinavia shows a distinct non-random distribution pattern with a strong tendency to cluster in certain regions. This holds true for both traditions. Most Northern rock art is found along the coast, but important clusters are found in some inland drainage basins, like Gudbrandsdalslågen and Drammensvassdraget/Dokka in eastern Norway and Inndalsälven and Ångermanälven in northern Sweden. In the Trondheimsfjord area, which may be regarded as a submerged drainage basin, we find a similar, but larger, cluster; arguably the largest cluster of Northern rock art sites in Scandinavia, although not with the largest number of images. A smaller cluster is found in Nordmøre and Romsdal to the southwest (Figure 2). A void area apparently separates these two clusters. This and other void areas are to some extent due to the properties of the landscapes in question. In central Norway, the topography varies considerably, from a low relief coastal rim via steep, but relatively low, coastal mountains to valleys penetrating the forested interior and mountain peaks in the borderland towards Sweden. Differences in geography and topography do not, however, alone explain the rock art distribution. During most of the Holocene, both in prehistoric and historic times, Trondheimsfjord has played a decisive role for habitation and economy in central Norway.

Figure 2. Distribution of Northern tradition rock art sites in central Norway.

going Holocene isostatic land uplift, the present lake, Snåsavatn, became isolated from the rest of the fjord around 4000 years ago (chapter five).

At the end of the Pleistocene, when the great ice cap covering Scandinavia started to melt, the first scattered, ice-free pockets of land emerged on the outer coast. One of these ice-free areas came into being in the southern part of central Norway (Sveian and Solli 1997a). It is in these same areas we find the earliest traces of human occupation in the region left by foragers exploiting marine resources. During this initial or pioneer phase, the entire Norwegian coast was settled within a few centuries, during the tenth millennium BP (Bjerck 1994).

Although Trøndelag is one of the major agricultural regions in Norway, mountains and forests dominate, and bogs cover around 15 per cent of the current land area. The coastal mountains are relatively low with steep cliffs facing the coastline in the west that is crossed by short fjords. For millennia, the coastal lowland has been an open landscape, part of the north European coastal heathland. Trondheimsfjord is around 120 km long, but in its central and inner parts it runs parallel to the coast, being separated from the North Atlantic by the Fosen peninsula. The fjord varies in width and is divided into several basins. Of particular interest here are the two inner basins, Strindfjord and Beitstadfjord, which are separated by a narrow sound, Skarnsundet. Most of the rock art in this region is found on the eastern and northern sides of these two basins. A number of towns are situated in this area: Steinkjer, Verdal, Levanger and Stjørdal in NordTrøndelag, and further south, the city of Trondheim in Sør-Trøndelag.

In central Norway, this phase is represented by the Fosna culture, manifested by its distinctive flint industry (Nummedal 1914; Alterskjær 1985; Alsaker 2005; Pettersen 2005). Apparently no rock art was made in this region during the Fosna phase. In northern parts of the county of Nordland, the postglacial land uplift gives maximum dates for some rock carving sites, which are almost as early (Gjessing 1945; Hesjedal 1994). However, locational factors other than the shoreline probably influenced the location of these sites, too (Simonsen 1974; Sognnes 2012). The hinterland around Trondheimsfjord appears to have been included in the human sphere somewhat later. Foragers used this area during the Late Mesolithic and the Neolithic, corresponding with the maximum dates for most rock art sites in central Norway as provided by the Holocene land uplift (Sognnes 2003; chapter five).

To the south and east of the fjord, valleys lead towards large mountainous areas, the Orkla and Gaula valleys southwards to eastern Norway and the Stjørdal and Verdal valleys eastwards to Jämtland, northern Sweden. These are among the shortest routes crossing the Scandinavian Peninsula. The pass between the drainage basins of the Stjørdal (Norway) and Inndal (Sweden) rivers is only around 450 m above sea level. These adjacent basins, which have been referred to as the ‘Mid-

Most of the coast in this region consists of a low rim of land referred to as the strandflat. Large parts of this 7

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway

Figure 3. The Bøla reindeer drawn around 1870, probably by David Habel, the drawing being photographed and sold as a souvenir card by the Steinkjer photographer Lars Bach.

strandflat are still submerged, but new land continuously emerges from the sea. Skerries grow into islets and islets into islands, which eventually merge with the mainland. However, deep sounds and fjords divide most of the strandflat into a landscape in which boats have been the main means of transportation from the arrival of the first settlers until the middle of the twentieth century. Fishing combined with small-scale farming still plays a major role for economy and habitation.

(Schøning 1778; Bendixen 1879). Th. Petersen (1922, 108) argued in favour of a national programme to document and publish the rock art, and in 1927 Norwegian archaeologists agreed to this and a few other national research programmes, resulting in extensive fieldwork and the publishing of a series of rock art monographs in the 1930s (Engelstad 1934, 9). Rock carvings in central Norway became known to the scholarly world in the middle of the nineteenth century (Nicolaysen 1862-64; O. Rygh 1873). These discoveries comprised carvings that were familiar from southern Scandinavia, particularly Bohuslän in Sweden and the neighbouring county of Østfold, eastern Norway. The discoveries in the 1890s revealed carvings of a different kind, which, however, had been noticed by some previous scholars, for instance at Glösa (Hallström 1960). Martin Vahl, a botanist, also noted some zoomorphic carvings in the early nineteenth century at Tennes in Troms, northern Norway (Holmboe 1916). These discoveries were hardly mentioned in the archaeological literature (e.g. O. Rygh 1873).

History of research The Bøla reindeer, a large reindeer engraved on a vertical rock face in the middle of a low waterfall on the River Bøla in Steinkjer, near the southern shore of a large lake named Snåsavatn, was discovered around 1840. This carving (Figure 3), however, was not known to the scholarly world until half a century later (Lossius 1899). By then, similar carvings had been found at Bogge in Nesset (Ziegler 1901), Bardal in Steinkjer (Lossius 1896) and Hell in Stjørdal (Lossius 1897). Subsequently, the Swedish archaeologist Gustaf Hallström (1907; 1909a) studied these sites, too. New discoveries were soon made, most of which contained smaller and more ‘schematic’ images. However, some time elapsed before this rock art was fully included in overviews of the prehistory of Norway. Gustafson (1906) included his own investi-gations of the Southern rock art in Østfold, while Bugge (1912) briefly mentioned both rock art traditions.

The archaeology curator at the DKNVS museum in Trondheim, Karl Rygh focused on the Southern rock art tradition, summarising his work in 1908. The publishing of this booklet led to a number of reports on hitherto unknown sites, including Hammer in Steinkjer (K. Rygh 1909). It was, however, Rygh’s successor Theodor Petersen who investigated most of these sites. The Evenhus site in Frosta was found in 1917. It turned out to be one of the larger sites of its kind in Norway at that time, with 100 carvings on several panels. Petersen (1920; 1926) presented this site at some conferences and used it as a basis for his reflections on the Northern rock

Around 1930, several sites with paintings were discovered, too (T. Petersen 1928; 1932). The first paintings were, however, identified by Hallström (1909b). He had studied some published reports



Figure 4. The Bogge I panel at Bogge in Nesset documented in 1890 (after Ziegler 1901).

art in the region, which he dated to the Neolithic (T. Petersen 1922, 108).

series, but some discoveries remain unpublished. In addition, a number of hitherto unknown panels have recently been found at the well-known Honnhammaren site in Nordmøre (Linge 2014).

The landscape of central Norway changed considerably during the Holocene. During the first millennia after the large Weichselian ice cap melted, land uplift was much more rapid than today. At first, Trondheimsfjord was part of a sound reaching from its present entrance to the mouth of Namsenfjord. At that time, the land was as much as 180-200 m lower than today (chapter five).

Documentation The ways rock art has been and still is being documented vary in both a global and a Scandinavian perspective. In central Norway, which is the focus of this study, photographing rock art seems to have been introduced by Hallström (1907). The earliest negatives at the NTNU Museum in Trondheim are from Karl Rygh’s 1911 investigation of Southern tradition carvings at Røkke Farm in Stjørdal. The earlier attempt to document rock art in this region was, however, conducted by Rygh in 1880, also at Røkke. Sheets of thick paper were soaked in water and pressed onto the rock, with special emphasis on filling the man-made lines. When dry, the paper was lifted from the rock and contained a negative imprint, a paper moulding of the image in question. Paper moulding had been used for some time to document runic inscriptions, and K. Rygh (1908, 5), who started as a runologist, considered this to be the best method for documenting rock carvings, too, but in practice he had to ‘trace’ each individual carving on small sheets of drawing paper before publication. This paper, however, was not transparent and it was difficult to trace details. He therefore focused on the general designs, drawing the images with narrow lines. Simple drawings based on some of these ‘tracings’ were published as part of his synthesis of the Southern tradition rock art in central Norway (K. Rygh 1908).

Th. Petersen (1928; 1929; 1932) investigated the painting sites, too, but he left the final work for publication to Gjessing (1936). Then, for decades, little rock art research took place in this region. Marstrander, who succeeded Petersen as archaeology curator at the DKNVS Museum, was an experienced rock art scholar, but he focused on the Southern tradition with special emphasis on the large Leirfall site in Stjørdal together with new discoveries in Sør-Trøndelag (Marstrander 1949; 1970a; 1974; Marstrander and Sognnes 1999). In the decades following World War II, Ole Folden, the owner of Hammer Farm in Steinkjer, discovered many new panels, but these discoveries did not gain scholarly interest until the early 1970s when Egil Bakka, a professor at the University of Bergen, visited the site. For many years, he had worked on the large Vingen site in western Norway and he soon acknowledged the importance of the Hammer carvings. Between 1973 and 1981, he spent several seasons documenting this site (Bakka 1975; 1988; Bakka and Gaustad 1975). More sites were found during the following decades, the most significant of which were those on the coast of Romsdal and Nordmøre, because they expanded the area in which Northern rock art was known (Møllenhus 1968a; Sognnes 1996). New discoveries were made in the Trondheimsfjord area, too (Møllenhus 1964; 1968b; Sognnes 1982; 1983; 2000). Most of these later discoveries are presented in local periodicals and report

Parallel to this, some previously discovered Northern sites were documented by drawings, as exemplified by Lossius’ (1896) work on the Bøla reindeer. However, already in 1890, Reidar Ziegler (1901) drew the Bogge I panel. Trained as an army officer, he indicated by means of lines the slope of the rock and the altitudes of the individual images relative to each other. He also showed


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway the inclination of the panel. Here, Ziegler added information in a way that has scarcely been replicated in any later documentation of rock art in Norway. Engelstad (1934, 15) rejected freehand sketching as an adequate technique for documenting rock art. This is understandable since the quality of these drawings depends on the skill of the person who makes the drawings as well as the ‘reading’ of the rocks. Instead he recommended tracing as the most adequate documenting method. The paper sheets available to Rygh could be used to mould or trace only one or a few images. However, in the early 1920s, Petersen instructed his young student assistants to use large rolls of semitransparent paper on which it was possible to trace many images together, as they were on the rocks (Engelstad 1934, 15). By doing this, an entire panel could be traced on the same sheet. In his work in northern Norway, Gjessing had to deviate from this standard. The shallow lines of ground or polished images found at some sites in northern Nordland were so faint that they could not be traced on the paper available at that time. While documenting these sites, Gjessing (1932, 12-13) therefore made a grid system on the rock and then drew the images on grid paper.

Figure 5. Full-scale tracing by L. G. A. Smits from a colour slide of an elk painting at Nerhol I in Oppdal (© NTNU museum).

tend to stay in the surface pores for some time, so this method was soon abandoned. It has since been abandoned in Valcamonica, too. In principle, photography is a more objective documenttation method than drawing and tracing, which are based on interpretations done before and during the documentation process. In photography, the interpretation phase comes later and we frequently run into problems; identifying man-made lines on a rock from photographs can be difficult. Sometimes these lines cannot be identified visually except in optimal light conditions; they can only be identified tactually, and then chalking or painting is necessary to make them visible. For all documentation methods involving interpretation, the conclusions reached depend on the foreknowledge of the interpreter.

During his first rock art expeditions to northern Scandinavia, Hallström (1907) combined photography with paper moulding, but in his later work he traced the images and made overall plans for all panels investigated. A draughtsman later reduced the scale of the drawings. This procedure was, in fact, followed for all publications until the 1960s, when the original tracings became reduced photographically. Petersen’s demand to trace the entire panels soon became part of the standard procedure. The paper used was not fully transparent and, before tracing, the images had to be chalked to make them more visible through the paper. This was done for both carvings and paintings. Chalking, of course, made the images more visible on photographs, too. In the 1930s, artificial light came into use (Fett 1934) and the pre-tracing part of the documentation work was much improved. Tracing was improved in the 1960s during Anders Hagen’s (1970) investigations at Ausevik, Sogn and Fjordane. At that time, polystyrene sheets were available in large rolls. These sheets were transparent and special pens were used to draw on the polystyrene (Michelsen 1970). Thus, it was possible to trace many details that were hardly noticed earlier.

As stated above, photography was used in the study area from the beginning of the twentieth century, but mostly as a supplement to tracing and frequently for overall views only. Normally, chalking was done before both carvings and paintings were photographed; there was not enough contrast between the man-made lines and the surrounding rocks. For the paintings, this problem was reduced with the introduction of colour film. Under optimal weather conditions, chalking was not always necessary, but optimal light conditions are rare in a world with quickly changing weather. They may last for a few minutes only, depending on the time of day and the position of the sun relative to the rock. Several visits under different light conditions might be necessary for each panel. This holds true for the paintings in particular; the visibility of these images apparently changes with humidity and other atmospheric conditions.

Another method for visualising rock carvings prior to tracing was developed at the Centro Camuno in Valcamonica, Italy. It involved first covering the panel in white, water-soluble paint and then black paint was added with a soft cloth blackening undisturbed parts of the surface and leaving natural and man-made lines white against the surrounding blackened rock (Anati 1976, 32). The author tested this method on some Northern rock art sites in central Norway in the late 1970s, the white paint, however, being substituted with liquid chalk (Sognnes 1981). Unfortunately, pigments

Most paintings in central Norway are on gneissic rocks, the surfaces of which frequently can be peeled off as small scales, for instance at Honnhammaren. Because the painted surfaces may be extra fragile, they were documented on photographs alone, in black-and-white and in colour, mostly with a polarised filter. At Honnhammaren, infrared film was tested, too. 10

Introduction Photographing the panels in double polarised light, as recommended by Henderson (1995), has not been tried. Before these photographs were taken, the panels were divided into grids, which, in principle, were rectangular. Each grid was, however, adjusted relative to the microtopography of the panel. The corners of each grid were marked on the rock and six measurements were taken for each grid, following the standard of the ARAL method used in Lesotho (Smits 1988). These measurements were taken horizontally between the upper and lower corners and vertically between the left-hand and right-hand corners. In addition, the two diagonals were measured, but sometimes only three corners could be plotted. These measurements make it possible to adjust the actual photograph so that angles and the length of the sides are reproduced correctly. From the photographs, the images may be traced in any suitable scale. Figure 5 shows an elk from Nerhol I traced by Smits from a photograph projected on a wall at a scale of 1:1. As an experiment, the rock at the Southern tradition panel Leirfall II was first treated using the Valcamonica method. Before the images were traced, a grid system was laid out and each grid photographed separately. These photographs show many more details than those being traced. Today, of course, computers have made this kind of work much easier.

Figure 6. A: Electronic scanning of a supposed skier at Rødøya in Alstahaug made by J. O. Swantesson, B: Gjessing’s original tracing (© NTNU Museum).

was transformed into a positive cast for a museum exhibition.

Rubbing or frottage has been practised, but on a small scale. Th. Petersen performed the first tests of this method were in 1930, but they were not followed up due to the great variations in the preservation of the rock surfaces. Most Southern tradition panels are still quite well preserved and suitable for rubbings. Many Northern carvings are, however, strongly weathered. Man-made lines may still be there and be visible, but the surrounding rock is so strongly weathered that the lines disappear on the rubbings. However, rubbing was one of several methods used to document the large skier found at Bøla IV.

During my work, I have used digital colour enhancement for the rock paintings, which today present themselves in different shades of red. In this work, I used Photoshop that allowed me to identify different shades of colours. Normally this seems to be of little relevance, but for Honnhammar II it showed that two large, dark-red fish were superimposed on a geometric pattern drawn in a lighter shade of red. Large parts of the panel are covered by yet another shade of red. Later, Linge (2014) used the DStretch program for this and other panels at Honnhammaren. The resulting published photograph unfortunately does not separate the different shades of red, and the vertical zigzag band cannot be identified. Harman (2016, 29) confirmed that the DStretch program has difficulty separating different shades of red. However, Nash and Smiseth (2015, 38) managed to detect the vertical band using this method.

For a long time, plaster casts were considered to be the ultimate documentation of rock carvings because the images are copied directly from the rock in three dimensions; the other methods discussed so far are twodimensional. Unfortunately, this method is expensive and time-consuming and the casts require large storage facilities. A collection of positive casts at the NTNU Museum shows that this method was used at several Northern sites in the early 1930s. Probably the earliest cast made was of the Bøla reindeer. Brøgger (1931) published this cast, which is still on display in the prehistory exhibition at the NTNU Museum, in an article on Northern rock art in Norway, and Gjessing (1936, 23) based his description of the carving on this cast. Today such 80-90 year-old casts might be used as reference for studies of ongoing weathering of the rock surfaces. Some more recent casts made from isoprene (Michelsen 1970) were made for documentary purposes only. However, part of the original negative cast from the Holte I panel

Figure 6A shows an early digital scan of a carving at Rødøya in Alstahaug (the first of its kind in this part of Norway). The image has been identified as a skier (Gjessing 1936, 9), but might equally well be a person paddling a boat (Hallström 1938, 186). Jan Swantesson (see 1996) made this scan from a plaster cast at the NTNU Museum. For comparison, Gjessing’s original tracing is shown as figure 6B. Sites and panels I am looking at the Northern rock art in central Norway from several perspectives based on the works of previous


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway Table I. Arctic rock art sites and images in central Norway.

scholars as well as my own. So far, I have mostly focused on the location of the rock art in its surrounding landscapes, but I am primarily looking into other aspects. Recent studies on site levels conducted by master students among others (cf. above) have probably brought us closer not only to the rock art but also to the makers of this art than previous research did. Yet, we have a long way to go before we, hopefully, get closer to the unreachable goal of fully knowing and understanding this art.

narrow and wide parts and can be divided into a series of basins. Northern rock art so far has been found in four basins. To this may be added a fifth basin, now formed by a lake, Snåsavatnet, northeast of the inner end of the fjord. During the Stone Age, this lake formed the inner part of the fjord, separated from the Beitstadfjord basin by a narrow sound (Stafseth 2006). The rock art panels are frequently located at conspicuous topographical features near the sea; some may even have been situated close to the shore (chapter five). When these panels are studied, several differences can be observed, which may have chronological significance (Sognnes 1994) corresponding to changes in images and styles. Establishing chronological sequences does not, however,

The distribution of the Northern rock art tradition in Scandinavia appears to be random, but from a statistical perspective this is not the case, and some overall patterns can be identified. Trondheimsfjord consists of alternating


Introduction explain why these changes in location, images and perception took place. This and other questions regarding dating, etc. will be dealt with in the chapters that follow. Today Northern rock art sites are known from 40 farms and/or common land in central Norway. These are listed in Table I. The table does not comprise all the images found, but 12 classes of motifs are represented. Rock art is found at 17 farms in the county of Nord-Trøndelag, 12 in Sør-Trøndelag, 8 in Møre and Romsdal and 3 in southern Nordland. The number of images varies, as does the presence of different motifs. The 12 motifs are divided into four main categories: zoomorphs (cervids and other terrestrial animals, whales, seals, fish and birds), anthropomorphs and possible sexual symbols, man-made objects (boats and possible drums), and geometric designs (net-like framed lines and ‘other’ line patterns).

1938). Both rock art traditions are represented at this site, but on different panels. Three panels with Northern carvings have been identified, together with one panel with Southern carvings. However, Hallström (1938, 411) reported at least two more panels with Southern carvings, but due to dense vegetation these panels have not been observed since. Cervids are only found on the main panel, where a large ‘naturalistic’ elk is surrounded by a herd of smaller ‘schematic’ carvings that probably depict deer (Figure 4). On a steeply sloping panel below this are some other quadrupeds, together with some whales. The third panel contains at least one small deer similar to the ones on the main panel. The Reiten (Møllenhus 1968a; Ramstad 2000) and Bjørset (T. Petersen 1939; Ramstad 2000; Kleiva 2006) sites are located on the north side of Romsdalsfjord. All these carvings were made on large boulders, one at Reiten and two at Bjørset. No distinct zoomorphs are identified, but one of the Bjørset boulders probably contains two incomplete whales, while the carvings at Reiten might be identified as bird and seal. The second boulder at Bjørset has an intricate geometric pattern (Kleiva 2006). Similar designs are, however, found on a Southern tradition panel at Bakkehaugen in Ingdal, Bohuslän (Coles 2005, 29), which makes it questionable whether the Bjørset carvings actually are from the Stone Age.

The total number of images included in the table is 676, but the possible presence of more images is indicated. In addition to the images originally included in this text, I have added recent discoveries made by Linge (2014) at Honnhammaren. The numerical balance between different images has not been altered significantly by these new discoveries. Cervids alone account for 37.3 per cent, and other terrestrial animals for 2.5 per cent, giving a total of 39.8 per cent for all terrestrial animals together. The number of birds is surprisingly high, accounting for 16.8 per cent. The sub-category of marine-related animals, whales, seals and fish, accounts for 33.1 per cent. When the 7.5 per cent of boat images are added, maritime-related motifs account for 40.7 per cent, virtually the same as the terrestrial animals. I know of no other rock art region with this balance between terrestrial and maritime motifs. Geometric designs account for 14.6 per cent and anthropomorphs for 4.2 per cent. Motifs and images will be further discussed in the next chapters.

In the Nordmøre region, two sites with carvings are located on the island of Averøy, off the mouth of Sunndalsfjord, which reaches far inland. Near the middle of this fjord, several clusters of paintings are found at Honnhammaren Farm in Tingvoll, on nearly 20 separate panels (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Smiseth 2007b). Most of these paintings are rather fragmentary, but images are still being discovered (Linge 2014). Paintings depicting elk dominate, but reindeer and fish (probably salmon) are found, too, as are a whale and some geometric designs. Some kilometres further south, at Havdalen Farm, paintings were discovered on a large boulder, but so far no discernible image has been identified.

In the following, I present an overview of sites presently known from central Norway sorted into counties. Tracings and some photographs will be presented in the following chapters, especially chapter 5, where I deconstruct and analyse a large selection of images depicting cervids.

The two sites with carvings on Averøy, which is in the core area of the Early Mesolithic ‘Fosna culture’, are located in the northern part of the island close to the Norwegian Sea. While Søbstad Farm is situated on a narrow inlet facing the ocean, Rødsand is on the west side of a sound leading towards Sunndalsfjord. Whales dominate at Søbstad, but some geometric designs are found, too (Møllenhus 1968a). Whales are also found at Rødsand, but quadrupeds dominate this site, which contains some geometric designs, too. Two phases are apparently represented, with remnants of a full-scale cervid being superimposed by a smaller quadruped (Sognnes 1996). Stangvikfjord runs parallel to Sunndalsfjord some kilometres to the east. An engraved boulder is found in the village of Surnadal on the east side of the fjord. The

Møre and Romsdal Northern rock art is known from the regions of Romsdal and Nordmøre, and is located in the major fjord system in each region. Three sites are known around Romsdalsfjord. Ramstad (2001, 58) listed a fourth Northern rock art site at Bjørsnøs, where a stick-line anthropomorph is found. However, Northern stick-line anthropomorphs are extremely rare except in Alta, Finnmark, but are frequent in the Southern tradition. A single atypical stick-line carving may even be recent. Consequently, this panel is omitted here. The main site in this region is located at Bogge Farm in Nesset, facing Eresfjord, the innermost branch of Romsdalsfjord (Ziegler 19001 Gjessing 1936; Hallström 13

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway images identified include a triangular geometric design and two anthropomorphs (Kleiva 1999). This boulder had been moved from its original site when the carvings were discovered. It was probably originally located on land belonging to Sylte Farm, where most of the recent development in Surnadal has taken place.

image that can easily be identified is a large elk with a silhouette trunk. A boulder engraved with an elk and a boat was found on Ervik Farm on the south side of the fjord, but it no longer exists. The carvings are only known from an oral report. On Heggvik Farm on the south side of the Bjugn peninsula, some strongly weathered paintings are found on a vertical panel resembling a large door leading into the cliff. An elk and a geometric design have been identified. Carvings are found on a vertical panel at Strand Farm, Osen, on the northern part of Fosen peninsula. A large whale and some geometric designs dominate this panel (T. Petersen 1930b; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938).

Sør-Trøndelag The county of Sør-Trøndelag covers most of the coastal area in the Trøndelag region, which is referred to as the Fosen district that is divided into two halves by Trondheimsfjord. No rock art is known from the southern part, but in the northern part, on the Fosen peninsula, a cluster of sites with rock paintings is found, mostly in Bjugn.

Two sites with carvings are known in Rissa, near the southwestern end of the peninsula. They are located on neighbouring farms and are separated by a wooded hill. At Rein Farm, an engraved boulder was found during cultivation. The images are two small elks, an anthropomorph and some parallel zigzag lines. The boulder is now displayed at the NTNU Museum in Trondheim. At Stykket Farm, a group of quadrupeds is engraved on a vertical cliff facing the fjord.

On the east side of Trondheimsfjord, carvings are found at Hommelvik Farm in Malvik. Two small panels are known, containing two, probably three, large fish (probably halibuts), birds, boats and geometric designs. The site is actually part of a cluster of sites, most of which are located in the county of Nord-Trøndelag. The interior part of Sør-Trøndelag consists of two large valleys reaching from Trondheimsfjord to the watershed towards southern Norway. No Northern rock art is known from these valleys, but the upper, higher part of the Sunndal Valley (in this part called Drivdal) reaches into Oppdal in Sør-Trøndelag, where two panels with paintings are found at Nerhol Farm.

Nord-Trøndelag The county of Nord-Trøndelag comprises the area around the inner part of Trondheimsfjord and the Namdal region to the north of the Fosen peninsula. The largest clusters of Northern rock art in central Norway are found here, one in the central fjord basin and one in the innermost basin. From this part of the fjord, valleys lead towards the Swedish border in the east. The Namdal Valley runs from the coast to the Swedish border. The coastal archipelago continues through the outer Namdal region. Two Northern rock art sites are known from this region, one on the coast and one near the border. Northern rock art is also found near the mouths of the Verdal and Stjørdal valleys. In addition to these, two sites are found at Snåsavatn.

The northernmost site with paintings on the Fosen peninsula is at Vasstrand in Åfjord, in two interconnected rock shelters (T. Petersen 1932; Gjessing 1936; Sognnes 2015). Recently some carvings have been identified, too (Myrholt 2007; Lindgaard 2009). The paintings are fragmentary, but an elk can easily be identified, along with an engraved boat and a fragmentary whale (Figure 85). Rock paintings are found on both sides of Gjølgavatn, a lake in Bjugn (T. Petersen 1928; 1929; Gjessing 1936; Myrholt 2007). The images on the south side, at Gjølga Farm, are questionable (Myrholt 2007), but digital colour enhancement has demonstrated that the panel contains something more than natural concretions. Several small panels are found at Varghiet Farm on the north side, and they include some cervids and an anthropomorph.

Two sites are found on the south side of the mouth of the Stjørdal Valley, where the majority of Southern tradition rock art in central Norway is found, too (Sognnes 2001a). Quadrupeds (probably reindeer) are depicted together with a geometric design on a steep-sided hillock on Hell Farm (Lossius 1898; T. Petersen 1931a; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Sognnes 1983). Close by, at Lånke Farm, several engraved panels are found at the foot of the crescent-shaped Tønsåsen ridge (Sognnes 1982). Although the number of motifs is low, a surprising number of different images are represented: elk and other quadrupeds, anthropomorphs, whales, birds and geometric designs. Most of the carvings are now incomplete.

A painted panel was discovered a few years ago on the north side of Teksdalsvatn, a lake situated between Gjølgavatn on Teksdal Farm and the sea. A second panel at the mouth of the River Teksdal, on the north side of the Bjugn peninsula, displays painted salmon (Møllenhus 1964). A decorated slate knife (Figure 73) was found across the river from this panel. Two sites are known on the short Bjugnfjord, a branch of outer Trondheimsfjord, one on each side of the fjord. A large panel with paintings is found at Mølnargården Farm on the north side of the fjord. Unfortunately, most images are strongly weathered and difficult to identify. The only

Near the end of the Frosta peninsula that divides the main Trondheimsfjord basin into two halves, a large site is found at Evenhus Farm. This is one of the largest Northern sites in central Norway with around 100 14

Introduction individual carvings on six panels located close to each other (T. Petersen 1922; 1926; Gjessing 1936). The panels face a low, raised shoreline. Images represented are elk, whales, boats, anthropomorphs, rings and cupmarks. Both rock art traditions are present.

outcrops in the middle of the fields. Northern images represented are elk, boats, birds, whales, anthropomorphs, footprints and fish (K. Rygh 1909; Gjessing 1936; Bakka 1988; Bakka and Gaustad 1975). Both Southern and Northern rock art is also represented on the neighbouring Skjevik Farm. The Skjevik I panel, which contains two whale images (Bakka and Gaustad 1975), is located close to the boundary to Hammer Farm and should be considered part of that site. Further east, near the infields of the farm, at least one Northern boat carving is found, unfortunately in a dense wood.

Some kilometres northeast of Evenhus, a small panel with Southern tradition boat carvings is found at Revlan Farm. One of the boats superimposes a small, apparently headless, contoured quadruped (Sognnes 1981). A panel with Northern carvings was found on a croft called Holtås on Holte Farm in Levanger when preparations were being made to blast a rock on a sharp curve on the main road between southern and northern Norway. The panel covers only around 20 square metres, approximately the same size as the Stykket panel, but contains around one hundred individual images, which are small and ‘schematic’ (Møllenhus 1968b). Quadrupeds, mostly elk, dominate, but reindeer can also be identified. Some geometric designs are also found.

Bardal Farm in Steinkjer is located six kilometres east of Hammer. Here one of the first discoveries of Northern rock art was made in the 1890s (Lossius 1896). Both Scandinavian rock art traditions are represented here, too, and many Southern carvings are superimposed on Northern ones on the large Bardal I panel. Northern carvings are also found on the smaller Bardal III panel, 100 metres from Bardal I. Images represented are elk, birds, geometric designs and a large whale (Gjessing 1936).

Rock carvings are known at Berg Farm on the south side of the Verdal Valley. Unfortunately, they were only found after several homes had been built on a gently sloping, low hillock. It was, however, possible to survey parts of the gardens surrounding the houses, and the survey revealed an important site with large ‘naturalistic’ animals, mostly elk, seemingly located on several panels. Some geometric designs were found, too, superimposed on the elk. The exact size of this site is not known, and we may be dealing with one exceptionally large panel.

Some kilometres further east, two small panels with Northern and Southern carvings are found at Homnes Farm (Gjessing 1936). The Northern images, which depict elk and possibly a bear, are small and strongly weathered. Stafseth (2006) discovered some small lozenges and an anthropomorph carved on a large vertical cliff at By Farm between Beitstadfjord and Snåsavatn. A full-scale reindeer carved on a low, vertical rock panel on common land on the right-hand bank of the River Bøla on the south side of Snåsavatn did not become known outside the local community until fifty years after its discovery (Lossius 1899; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938). This reindeer remained in splendid isolation for more than a century but new discoveries during the late 1900s (Sognnes 2001c) were followed by the discovery of two more panels in 2001. Among them was a large skier (Sognnes 2007a). These panels were, however, strongly weathered and so far it has not been possible to bring together five fairly complete quadrupeds as an illustration for this chapter. Images known today are reindeer, elk, birds and an anthropomorph (the skier).

The present-day innermost Trondheimsfjord basin, Beitstadfjord, is separated from the main basin by the narrow Skarnsundet sound. On the west side of this sound, a small panel with rock carvings is found at Selset Farm in Inderøy, on a croft called Kvennavika (T. Petersen 1931c; Gjessing 1936; Sognnes 2006). A row of small images depicting flounders or halibuts is placed on a low rock outcrop (Figure 23). During the Stone Age, another sound divided into several channels by a series of islands existed between Beitstadfjord and the main Trondheimsfjord basin. Remnants of carvings are found on the west side of this former sound at Gangstad Farm in Inderøy. Long, curved furrows oriented vertically on the strongly weathered rock were most probably parts of animal legs. One oval carving was still intact (Stafseth 2006).

A cluster of engraved bird images has been found at Horjem Farm in Snåsa, near the inner end of Snåsavatn (Stafseth 2006). These carvings are strongly weathered, too. A solitary small elk is found on the right-hand bank of a stream close to a small waterfall on common land (Western Finnli) in Lierne, near the Swedish border. So far, this is the only carving known from an upland area in central Norway.

On the north side of Beitstadfjord, rock carvings are known from several farms, among them some of the largest clusters of carvings in central Norway. However, both Scandinavian rock art traditions are represented at most of these sites. Near the west end of the Beitstad peninsula, around 20 panels are found at Hammer Farm, Steinkjer. Some of these contain Northern carvings only, some Southern tradition carvings only, while carvings belonging to both traditions occur together on some panels. Most panels are located at the foot of the hillside at the inner end of the cultivated land, but some are on

Only one rock art site is known from coastal NordTrøndelag, at Reppen Farm on the Salsneset peninsula, Fosnes. The carvings were found on a large boulder that was about to be blasted during cultivation (Figure 80). Whales dominate, but elk and fish are present, too (Sognnes 1981b). 15

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway In chapter one, I focus on the images; in practice this means cervids, which are most frequent and also show the greatest variations regarding size, execution techniques and the way the ancient artists perceived and drew these animals. In spite of assumed regional similarities referred to as styles, many local variations can be identified.

Nordland Helgeland, the southern part of Nordland County, which is included in this study, is a relatively narrow strip of land between the North Atlantic and the watershed of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Many short fjords cut deeply into the land, and narrow valleys lead from these fjords towards the mountains bordering to Sweden. In the western part of this area, the strandflat forms a myriad of islands and islets on which the majority of the population lives.

In chapter two, I discuss the rock art as part of contemporary visual culture, comparing it with slate knives that were shaped like whales or fish and/or were decorated with zoomorphic elements. Sometimes two or more animals seem to blend into one entity. This is also the case for rock art images where boats and animals blend. Here, I find that the Late Stone Age in central Norway, which was a major area for the Neolithic slate culture, was characterised by a profound animal symbolism where material and visual culture blended.

Rock art is rare in this part of Norway and none is known between Namsenfjord and Vefsnfjord, most sites being found at the mouth of Vefsnfjord. Northern carvings are found on two small serpentinite outcrops on Vistnesdalen Farm, Vevelstad, on the south side of this fjord (Lund 1941; Sognnes 1989). Quadrupeds, fish, an anthropomorph and geometric designs are represented. Another Northern panel is found on the island of Rødøya, Alstahaug, near the north side of the mouth of Vefsnfjord. The panel is on the east side of the island at the foot of a distinctly red-coloured hill (T. Petersen 1930a; Gjessing 1936; Sognnes 1989). Images represented are elk, whales, seals and boats, as well as two that previously were interpreted as skiers (Gjessing 1936, 9-10), an identification that was rejected by Hallström (1938, 184187). Based on carvings depicting skiers in other parts of northern Europe, at the River Vyg (Zalavruga), Russian Karelia (Savvateyev 1977), in Alta, Finnmark (Helskog 1988, 2012a) and at Bøla, Steinkjer (see above), I agree with Hallström.

In chapter three, I present the subject matter, sorting the material according to animal families and species. I also discuss the different techniques used while making the images in question, the vast majority being made by percussion. However, some images appear to have been incised. Paintings are present, too. This chapter also presents some previous classification systems. Most of these systems are regional or even local, but one system (Malmer 1981) was based on the then published material from both Norway and Sweden (Malmer’s work was not, however, up to date for central Norway; panels published in the 1960s were not included, among them Holte). In chapter four, I present my alternative way of thinking about how the images were drawn. First I demonstrate a way of deconstructing the images, dividing each drawing into separate line and body segments followed by a discussion of how these elements were merged, that is, how the images were constructed. Examples from all the larger sites are given, the constructions being presented step by step. I also look into a number of combinations of images that may represent deliberate compositions, some of which may represent perspective, too.

When incisions were found on a stone slab in a Stone Age habitation area on Remmen Farm, Leirfjord, the slab was brought to the NTNU Museum in Trondheim. Later, it was discovered that some of the incised lines formed part of an elk. Chapter by chapter The Northern rock art in Norway has been studied for more than a century. Together with the Southern tradition, this tradition forms a geographically isolated cluster of rock art in northernmost Europe along with the rock art of northwestern Russia and the more recently discovered rock paintings in Finland. A local research tradition focusing on dating and styles combined with a firm belief that the art represented hunting magic was developed in the 1930s. This has changed in recent decades in that a new generation of researchers influenced by international trends in rock art research is working in a rapidly growing field. This monograph is a contribution to this revitalisation of Norwegian rock art research. Focus is placed on a few topics, on the range of images and how these were drawn, and also on the location of the sites, and the age and cultural context of the images. I try to leave behind the idea of rock art as art and instead see it as one aspect of Stone Age visual culture. In addition, I discuss the relevance of the interpretations presented for this rock art.

In chapter five, I turn to the locations. At a regional level, I follow distributions along the coast and along Trondheimsfjord, from the coast to the mountains, and between Trøndelag and Jämtland in Sweden. At a local level, I look at islets and hillocks, headlands and rock shelters, currents and rivers, and raised beaches. At the panel level, I examine the location of the images relative to geological structures, among them ‘hyperimages’, and naturally coloured rocks. I also try to see the rock art in relation to habitation sites. Chapter six looks into dating and possible cultural contexts, discussing the many different ways scholars have tried to date this rock art. I find the result rather disappointing; no reliable dating method has been developed so far. The Holocene land uplift provides a maximum date for most sites, but there seems to be no 1:1 relationship between rock art and contemporary shores. 16

Introduction Two generations ago, one interpretation only was held to be valid for Northern rock art: hunting magic. Today, several interpretations have been proposed, from shamanism to totemism, animism and cosmology. In chapter seven, I have chosen an alternative approach to this question, focusing on presence; presence of humans and of symbolic animals on the rocks, seeing the rock art sites as meeting places between these two bodies. I also consider the rock art as possible expressions of identities at different levels.

tion appears to explain the presence of this rock art as it appears in the study area. Chapter nine summarises the work. Although I present and discuss several overall religiously related interpretations, I am less concerned with answering the question of why the Northern rock art was made. I rather focus on lower levels of interpretations, on the sites and panels within their geographical and topographical settings. I also emphasise presence, the presence of images and panels, and the presence of the people who made the images and symbols, as well as those who subsequently visited this rock art.

Chapter eight looks into other proposed interpretations of this rock art, hunting magic, shamanism, animism and totemism. My conclusion here is that no single interpreta-



Echoes from a distant past

shows the importance of knowing local myths and ethnography to interpret rock art. Her study of the Rio Grande Valley rock art did not demonstrate any linearity, yet scenes recognisable from Pueblo Indian myths can be identified. However, knowledge about these myths was a prerequisite for identifying the images and ‘reading’ the panels. Such knowledge is lacking for the prehistoric rock art traditions in Scandinavia.

The dichotomy in the rock art of Scandinavia was emphasised a century ago by Andreas M. Hansen (1904) in a multidisciplinary study where he linked the Southern tradition to Aryan-speaking Scandinavians and the recently discovered large zoomorphic carvings (= the Northern tradition) with the non-Aryan-speaking first immigrants to northern Fennoscandia. Hansen's idea regarding rock art and ethnicities is now considered obsolete, but I believe a language metaphor is still useful. In northern Europe, where prehistoric rock art is found from the west coast of Norway to Russian Karelia in the east and from Denmark in the south to Arctic Norway in the north, many modern states exist and numerous languages are spoken. These languages belong to two major groups, the Indo-European group, which includes Germanic (e.g. Norwegian and Swedish) and Slavic (e.g. Russian) languages, and the Finno-Ugric group with the Finnish and Sami languages. Regional and local dialects exist in each of these languages.

Yet, several attempts have been made to read this rock art as text, the most controversial ones being presented by Barry Fell. Fell mostly worked in North America, but he also tried to read some Southern tradition panels in Sweden. He claimed that the Tifignac alphabet used by the North African Berbers was invented in and had been used in Bronze Age Scandinavia. Fell further claimed to identify letters belonging to this alphabet on Swedish rock art panels and he deciphered these panels based on his rudimentary knowledge of the Old Norse language (Fell 1982, Galster 1987). Following the same procedure, Fell read the Peterborough rock art in Ontario, Canada, which he found to have been made by Bronze Age Argonauts coming from the Ringerike district in Norway. It should be mentioned here that A. W. Brøgger (1937), professor of archaeology at the University of Oslo, actually argued in favour of possible Trans-Atlantic voyages by Europeans during the Bronze Age.

Metaphorically, this complex pattern can be used to describe the rock art of northernmost Europe. At least two large traditions exist, each represented by a specific graphic system. However, regional and local varieties or ‘dialects’ can be identified for both traditions. Morphologically, for instance, the zoomorphs at Nämforsen in northern Sweden (Hallström 1960) resemble the graphic systems or ‘languages’ found in distant Russian Karelia and in Alta, northernmost Norway, rather than the neighbouring sites in the county of Jämtland and across the border in central Norway. At Nämforsen and in Alta, eastern ‘dialects’ seem to be present contrasting with the western ‘dialects’ represented in Jämtland and Trøndelag. Furthermore, the many rock paintings in eastern Finland may be seen as a separate tradition. Similar, but smaller, differences can be identified in the Southern tradition, too (Malmer 1981, 104-105; Sør-Reime 1982).

The lack of knowledge about contemporary myths makes it difficult to ‘read’ Scandinavian rock art. The result coming out of these endeavours depends on the skills and fantasy of the readers who will search the rock for images and/or signs that fit their own preconceptions. However, many Iron Age myths and epic stories are known from the Scandinavian saga literature and Åke Ohlmarks, a Swedish scholar of religion, found that he could identify some clustered Southern carvings as name rebuses. Among them was a large human accompanied by a group of smaller ones, which he read as Theoderik, meaning rich-in-people (Ohlmarks 1979, 72-75). One such procession is actually found at Leirfall Farm in Stjørdal.

So far, I find this linguistic metaphor acceptable, but I find it difficult to go further, that is, to read the rock art as text. Rock art as graphic systems is visual rather than textual. Native Americans, for instance, did not consider paintings and carvings on rocks as ‘art’, but as ‘rock writing’ (Mallery 1972 [1893]), which indicates that images and symbols refer to myths and stories being told. This is emphasised also by Lock (1994, 416). The work of Carol Patterson-Rudolph (1990) in southwest USA

Christopher Tilley’s reading of the Nämforsen carvings is less direct (Tilley 1991). Parallel with Tilley, and in a similar way, Hesjedal (1992; 1994) studied the rock art in northern Norway from a similar perspective. Both at Nämforsen and in northern Norway, a kind of syntax might be identified on some panels, but so far we have no clue to the meaning of the individual images other


From ‘Art’ to Visual Culture than identifying the zoomorphs at the species level, at best.

been recognised, it is not identified. In other cases, one tends to see what is not there because one expects a certain image to be present. Whether one sees rock art or not depends on the investigator’s physical capacity to identify colours, and also on his or her vision of depths; some people have more developed stereographic vision and therefore more easily detect the shallow depth differences of weathered images. Under normal light conditions, many rock carvings in Norway today are not visible at all; they are so strongly weathered that they can only be identified by tactile methods or the use of artificial light, digital scanning, etc.

As an alternative to stylistic approaches in rock art studies, Bouissac (1994; 1997) argued in favour of a semiotic hypothesis based on the heuristic assumption that rock paintings and carvings have communicative functions. This calls for a markedly different context than the one that had been taken for granted so far, expressing deictic functions. Bouissac’s hypothesis was that ‘the ‘frescoes’ and ‘friezes’ of the earliest humans’ elaborate traces are texts in the literal rather than the metaphorical sense’. By doing this, emphasis is put on the site rather than on individual images (Bouissac 1994, 352). According to this hypothesis, rock art primarily articulates cognitive content meant to be selectively communicated from generation to generation across space. This approach seems to be relevant for the Northern rock art in central Norway. Hypothetically, the location of this art on conspicuous topographical features may have been chosen by foragers using these features as a way of conveying information between distant groups who were constantly on the move (Bouissac 1994, 353).

The discovery and study of rock art depends on a number of factors: (1) Rocks suitable for carving and/or painting were present (2) Rock art was actually made (3) The rocks have not been destroyed later (4) The rock art is still recognisable today (5) Recent human activities have taken place, which might lead to the discovery of the rock art (6) Lines and images in question are recognised as manmade (7) The discoveries are made known

We are, however, no way near any reading of the Northern rock art as a script. I consider this rock art as having been used to mediate knowledge and information, but am reluctant to see it as ‘writing’. Scepticism towards treating visual imagery as writing is also expressed by Elkins (2003). We have every reason to believe that the makers of prehistoric rock art in Scandinavia were analphabetic, belonging to oral societies. Like Janik (1999), I prefer to see the rock art as images, not as text, and agree with Bergmann (2003, 29) that due to the unique character of images they cannot be interpreted as simple analogies with textual interpretations, the specific properties of the medium of images must be taken into consideration.

Clearly the most important point is number two, but for us today number six plays the major role. The discovery of rock art is intimately linked with the contemporary level of knowledge, not only among specialists. In Norway, for instance, non-specialists have discovered the vast majority of rock art panels. Yet, perception and training in discovery and identifying man-made lines and images that are still preserved on a rock panel form the basis for systematic studies. Our current knowledge of rock art is based on the artists’ behaviour in a distant past, and also on the behaviour of the present discoverers and, of course, on actions from all generations in between who left the rock art undisturbed or destroyed it. During the making and the re-discovery of rock art, perception is involved. The current discourse tends to concentrate on the perceptions of the makers (e.g. Deregowski 1995), while the perceptions of the rediscoverers to a large extent have been ignored.

I would claim that the makers of Scandinavian rock art did not ‘write’ on the rocks, they ‘talked’ or ‘spoke’ to or on behalf of the rocks by means of image making. The messages encoded on the rocks were not read but listened to. These messages must have been meant to last and therefore were engraved or painted on the rocks. Later, the rocks could ‘talk’ back as echoes from the past; probably interpreted by mediators knowing (or remodelling) the meaning of the original statements. These mediators are long gone; echoes from the rocks, however, still exist at many places, although they become increasingly weaker, facing ultimate silence as the result of weathering and destruction of the rock surfaces.

This becomes evident during the recording process, as can be demonstrated by comparing documentary material from the same panel made by two or more researchers; what has been found and documented depends on the preconception of the researchers involved. Rock art research has this problem in common with archaeology as well as other disciplines based on empirical data. Many images are visually so striking that they will not go unnoticed. However, from this it is an important step to identify and recognise the significance of the images. One cannot discover and accept data without knowing certain properties of the past situation that is being studied; data cannot be identified unless someone is present who can identify them (A. B. Johansen 1974, 24, 40).

Discovering rock art Visitors to rock art sites observe a site and its images differently. This is most easily demonstrated when comparing the work of trained and untrained observers, but experienced scholars, too, may have blind spots. They observe, but because the object in question has not yet


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway

Figure 7. The main part of the Bardal I panel in Steinkjer, Nord-Trøndelag, with numerous superimpositions (after Gjessing 1936).

In the middle of the seventeenth century, the Danish polyhistor Ole Worm (1643) published a tome later known as Monumenta Danica, which presented ancient monuments in the United Kingdom of Denmark–Norway. While preparing this work, Worm was assisted by civil servants (officers, ministers, etc.) who collected information from their respective districts. Among the material Worm did not publish is the first description of rock art in Bohuslän, still part of Norway then (O. S. Johansen 1980; Bahn 1998). Peder Alfssøn, who worked as a schoolteacher in Christiania [Oslo] wrote this report in 1627. Alfssøn studied at the universities in Leiden, Orléans and Padua, and was a doctor of medicine from Basel (Bull 1923). Thus, he was a well-trained scholar for his time. Neither Alfssøn nor Worm had, however, any idea that these images engraved on the rocks of coastal Bohuslän were of historical interest.

Østfold. Southern tradition rock carvings at that time were known from only ten panels in central Norway (K. Rygh 1908). At Bardal, these boat images, however, were superimposed on large elk (Lossius 1896). Differences in preservation indicated that the elk were potentially much older than the boats. Another site with depictions of cervids had, however, already been discovered at Bogge some years earlier (Ziegler 1900), and at about the same time similar carvings were known from Bøla (Lossius 1897) and Hell (Lossius 1899). Although these carvings differed from the ones found farther south, scholars had no problems in recognising them as man-made and prehistoric. The cognitive step was short and acceptable. This was not the case in Altamira, Spain, a decade earlier, where the discovery of cave paintings in 1879 blasted the contemporary Palaeolithic paradigm (e.g. Bahn 1998), even though the capacity of Palaeolithic people to make art mobilier of similar quality was already recognised.

The historian P. F. Suhm (1784) eventually published Alfssøn’s report more than a century later. In the early eighteenth century, images engraved on rocks became known from northern Sweden as well (Hallström 1960, 130). That these images were not identified as prehistoric in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries should not, however, come as a surprise to us; after all, neither archaeology nor the concept of prehistory had yet been invented.

Correspondingly, there was strong reluctance towards accepting that the large zoomorphic carvings in northern Scandinavia were made during the Stone Age. Brøgger (1906) first accepted this date, but later found that the carvings should rather be dated to the Bronze Age (Brøgger 1925), before he once again changed his opinion in favour of the Stone Age dating (Brøgger 1931). Haakon Shetelig (1922) emphasised the similarities between the large cervids in central and northern Norway and Palaeolithic cave paintings, claiming that the Northern rock art tradition ultimately derived from Franco-Cantabrian cave art. Hallström (1938; 1960) accepted the Stone Age date, but most Swedish scholars continued to claim that these images were made during the Bronze Age under the influence of

The rock art discourse in Scandinavia during the nineteenth century was concentrated around the record from the adjacent counties of Bohuslän in Sweden and Østfold in Norway. The Northern rock carvings, which predominantly depict cervids, remained unnoticed. The reason why the large panel at Bardal (Figure 7) was noticed in the early 1890s probably was that it contained deeply engraved boat images familiar from Bohuslän and


From ‘Art’ to Visual Culture was an experienced archaeologist, claimed that Dutch or Scottish sailors made these paintings during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when large amounts of timber were exported from this region; he even claimed to identify drawings of warships (Bendixen 1879, 93). However, during the last decades of the nineteenth century, sites with rock paintings were discovered in northern Sweden, and it was the Hallström (1909b) who recognised the potential of the paintings at Honnhammaren. In the early twentieth century, Hallström investigated rock art in northern parts of Norway and Sweden. While preparing for his first expeditions, he read all relevant literature and noticed Bendixen’s report. He therefore decided to visit the site. When he arrived, he had no doubts; he was facing the same kind of paintings he had already seen in northern Sweden. He did not, however, identify any images depicting ‘ships’. These ship images, which were made by scratching the already painted surface, remained unnoticed until the 1990s (Sognnes 1995a). Knowledge leads to new knowledge. This holds true also for rock art. In central Norway, rock art research since 1870 was systematically conducted by archaeologists working at the museum of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, now the Museum of Natural History and Archaeology (NTNU Museum) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Activity in this field varied, but every time the museum staff actively studied rock art, the number of reports on new discoveries increased rapidly. This effect was demonstrated by the publication of the first work on rock art in this region (K. Rygh 1908), but it did not include the Northern rock art. Shortly after this booklet was published, new discoveries were reported (K. Rygh 1909; 1910). At Hammer, in Steinkjer a site with carvings located some 200 m from the farmhouses and less than 5 m from the local road, had until then been unknown to the people living at the farm. Shrubs and trees hid the panel and the carvings were out of sight. Similar stories are told about panels discovered later at Stykket in Rissa and Heggvik in Bjugn. The Bøla reindeer

the South Scandinavian Bronze Age culture and rock art tradition (e.g. Ekholm 1916; Burenhult 1980; Malmer 1981).

Snåsavatnet is a lake located northeast of the inner end of Trondheimsfjord, and is more than 40 km long and 3 km wide. It now stands 22 m above sea level and is dammed by a Younger Dryas moraine ridge reaching approximately 30 m above sea level. This was probably the level at which the lake became isolated from the sea about 4000 BP. Around 1840, a full-scale depiction of a reindeer was discovered on a vertical cliff on the east bank of the River Bøla near the southern shore of the lake (Lossius 1898). In contrast to other sites, only one image, later known as the Bøla reindeer, was found (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938).

In the late 1870s, B. E. Bendixen studied some paintings on a cliff at Honnhammaren in Tingvoll. Bendixen, who

The Bøla reindeer is a good example of how different scholars may perceive and document rock art. A drawing,

Figure 8. Drawing (A) and tracings of the Bøla reindeer, A: Lossius 1896, B: Hallström 1907, C: Gjessing 1936, D: Hagen 1976, E: Sognnes 1981.


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway probably made by David Habel, has already been presented. Figure 8 shows five more drawings and tracings of this image. A is the sketch made by Lossius (1896) during the first scholarly investigation of this carving. B is a drawing, too, made by Hallström during his first visit to the site (Hallström 1908). C is the tracing made by Gjessing in the early 1930s (Gjessing 1936, 23). D basically seems to be the same tracing, but numerous black dots marking minute depressions on the rock face have been added, which Hagen (1976, 117) believed were man-made and marked the animal’s fur. E is a tracing made by the author (Sognnes 1981) and lacks any internal marks. In my opinion, these ‘marks’ are not man-made but natural, caused by surface weathering. Similar marks can be found outside the contour line of the reindeer as well. The solitude of the Bøla reindeer soon became a factoid, the reality of which was not questioned. Hardly any search for more carvings was made, and no one seems to have taken any interest in two converging lines less than 1 m in front of Figure 9. The skier at Bøla IV (foto P. Hasselroth, © NTNU Museum). the reindeer. These man-made lines, however, can be seen on unpublished situation was similar there. Remnants of strongly weathered photographs; they are probably part of an animal’s leg. carvings were found, among them a large anthropomorph. This panel is now referred to as Bøla I. In the 1960s, parts Similar images are known from other sites in the region of an animal’s leg and trunk were found on a more gently (Gjessing 1936; Sognnes 1983). More surprising was the sloping part of the rock 5-6 m above the reindeer. In the discovery that this anthropomorph was standing on a short archaeological literature, however, the reindeer remained ski, holding a pole in its hand (Figure 9). in splendid isolation (e.g. Hagen 1990) although it had been published (Midbøe 1970). Some years later, an More remnants of carvings were discovered some 20 m incomplete carving depicting a bear (Bøla II) was found upstream from these panels, also on the path (Bøla V). some 20 m downstream from the reindeer, the two This panel was even more weathered, and only parts of images being separated by a narrow branch of the river two legs were identified, but these legs must belong to that forms a low waterfall here (Sognnes 1981). In 1997, two different animals. Some years later, when the water a small image depicting a cervid (Bøla III) was found level in the river was extremely high, the water crossed a about 50 m upstream from the reindeer. These discoveries concrete barrier above Bøla III and flooded parts of the were described in an earlier article (Sognnes 2001a), but path exposing a rock panel with strongly weathered when that article was in print more unknown carvings furrows that look like the leg of a cervid (Bøla VI). (Bøla IV) were discovered some 20 m downstream from Bøla II, unfortunately on severely weathered rock surfaces (Sognnes 2007; 2011). Jens Bjarne Mohrsen, a The Honnhammar fish local resident, realised that the low evening sun picked out a hitherto unknown carving, presumably a boat, on a In the first half of the twentieth century (Gjessing 1936, gently sloping panel close to a frequently used path near 114), much effort was spent documenting the paintings the river. Along the eastern side of the path was a high at Honnhammar I and several well-qualified scholars fence, to keep people off the railway line. studied this panel, concentrating on identifying the vague and partly blurred red lines (Gjessing 1936; A conflict between the use of this path and the need to Hallström 1938; Kivikäs 2003, 87). I have visited this protect the newly discovered carvings was immediately and the other Honnhammaren panels many times since recognised. A minor adjustment of the fence could, the late 1970s. Already on my first visit, I caught a however, provide enough space for a realignment of the glimpse of something that apparently had remained path, but before this could be done, the rock between the unnoticed, some faint lines within the central, reddish fence and the railway embankment had to be inspected. part of the panel, forming a grid-like pattern. Yet, it Alas, after removing some moss, it turned out that the took several visits before I felt confident that I saw 22

From ‘Art’ to Visual Culture

Figure 10. Fish and a geometric design at Honnhammar, Tingvoll (author’s photo, manipulated).

more than the scholars who had visited the panel before me. I had most probably identified the ‘warships’ found by Bendixen (Sognnes 1994). At about the same time, a local artist noticed these lines, too, believing they were recent graffiti. They could not be recent, however, since they were visible on Gjessing’s photographs from the early 1930s (Gjessing 1936, Plate XL). The lines in question were eventually identified as three boats, representing a boat type known from a limited number of panels in the Trondheimsfjord area, which arguably belongs to the earliest phase of the Southern rock art tradition. These lines were probably made by people scraping away red pigment from the surface with a piece of flint or a hard stone.

paintings. After enhancing the images on some of the other panels, I put Honnhammar III through the same procedure, and to my great surprise a vertically oriented, complex, zigzag pattern of lines emerged, crossing the two central fish (Figure 10), seemingly superimposed by these fish. After first having identified this geometric pattern, I had no problem in seeing it on older colour photographs. Linge (2014, 29) recently had the opportunity to search for rock paintings in a larger part of the Honnhammarneset headland and discovered several hitherto unknown panels. He did not, however, identify the geometric band at Honnhammar III, which is also distinct on a photograph published by Nash and Smiseth (2015).

Honnhammar I is most probably identical with the panel noticed by Gerhard Schøning in 1772 (Schøning 1778). During his visit to the site, Hallström (1938, 397) was shown another panel (Honnhammar III) and he himself found a cluster of small panels closer to the sea near Honnhammar I, which to a large extent were covered by lichen. Today, these panels are referred to as Honnhammar II, VI and IX, respectively. In 1987, two local boys rediscovered these panels, which were unknown to Gjessing.

Preliminary interpretations This short presentation of the circumstances around the discovery of some rock art sites in central Norway demonstrates that even trained scholars see, decipher and interpret images differently. What we see depends on expectations and preconceived ideas, but also on previous experience. Until the images are discovered, they apparently do not exist; they come into existence after we have learned to identify them. For rock art investigations, this means that a site should be visited more than once, preferably during several seasons and under different light and weather conditions. Several scholars should investigate a panel individually and together. A team tends to register what can be seen and identified by all its members, which actually was demanded by Eva and Per Fett (1941, 10) based on their investigations of rock carvings in Rogaland, western Norway. However, everyone present may not perceive and identify all manmade lines that are present. If we insist on full agreement, existing images may not be acknowledged and documented. On the other hand, a team is less likely to go astray, misled by imagination.

Honnhammar III contains four large painted fish, most probably salmon, together with some long vertical lines. These lines were noted, but not documented, by Gjessing (1936) and Hallström (1938). Large parts of the vertical rock face on which these fish are located contain red pigments, too. A large number of tourists and many professional archaeologists and rock art scholars have visited this site, but not noticed anything more of interest. Digital image processing has created better possibilities for identifying damaged and apparently lost rock


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway With a few exceptions, all Northern rock art sites in central Norway are located near the sea. Since the end of the Pleistocene, isostatic land uplift has taken place continuously, most rapidly during the Early Holocene. Hence, images made some millennia ago were located closer to the sea than they are today. Height above sea level (combined with styles) has therefore been used as a basis for regional rock art chronologies (Gjessing 1936).

Visual culture Modern overviews of Norwegian art history (e.g. Berg 1981; Askeland 1992) start with introductory chapters on prehistoric rock art, although these carvings and paintings have not been accepted as art as such (Shetelig 1922; 1925), yet the Northern rock art discourse has been dominated by art historical thinking and terminology, in particular the concept of style. Engelstad (1934, 10) explicitly claimed that he studied the Northern rock art in eastern Norway from an art historical perspective. He followed the thinking of the German scholar Herbert Kühn (1925) who saw a dichotomy between two major styles. Kühn emphasised the time aspect and claimed that the history of prehistoric art followed a cyclical pattern, alternating between periods focusing on nature, represented by a ‘sensoric’ art, and periods dominated by reflection and abstraction, represented by an ‘imaginative’ art (Engelstad 1934, 11; Kühn 1925). Kühn (1954) further developed this theory in his later works.

While cervids are represented at virtually all sites, other images are less frequent. Boats and whales are found at only a few sites. Based on a preliminary study of the sites in the Stjørdalsfjord and Åsenfjord basins, Sognnes (1994) identified some dichotomies, which can be summed up as follows: large animals : small animals few animals : many animals ‘naturalistic’ animals : ‘schematic’ animals steep panels : gently sloping panels conspicuous features : insignificant features ‘hidden’ sites : ‘open’ sites

In the record from eastern Norway, Engelstad found a transition phase between sensoric and imaginative art. The apparent lack of ‘naturalism’ on many images, he claimed, was due not to the artists’ lack of drawing skills but the result of changing ideas about how the images were supposed to look (Engelstad 1934, 95, 97). However, it was the more general meaning of the style concept that came to dominate Norwegian rock art discourse. The record studied by Engelstad (1934) was seen as representing a late phase in the Shetelig/Gjessing sequence. This focus on style was inspired by studies of the Franco-Cantabrian cave art, the styles of which were summed up by Breuil (1952) and later revised by LeroiGourhan (1965). Similar attitudes to rock art are found in North America (e.g. Schaafsma 1980; Cole 1990).

Most conspicuous topographical features, on which the Northern rock art was located, apparently should be seen from the sea by people paddling boats or rafts along the shores of fjords and sounds, which were the main traffic arteries in the seascapes and fjordscapes of Norway until the middle of the twentieth century. The rock art was not, however, executed on the top of these features, but near their base, which was within reach of the contemporary shore. In my study of the Northern rock art so far I have mostly concentrated on its geographical and topographical contexts and less on spatial intra-site studies. I would agree with Egenter (1994, 259) that spatial studies should become more important for rock art studies at several levels. Studies of locations, however, demand many different tentative studies and approaches before we eventually reach standardised procedures, and these procedures may prove to be inadequate for the next panel found. My own analyses show that several different kinds of topographical features were of importance for the location of Northern rock art in central Norway and I would claim that further and even more detailed landscape studies can be fruitful also for semiotic rock art studies. Detailed sighting studies conducted in Scotland and northern England (Bradley et al. 1993) support this claim.

In Norway, the concept of style was used only for the Northern rock art, the Southern images being sorted into types. An exception is Marstrander’s (1963) sorting of Southern boat types from the county of Østfold, eastern Norway, into two styles, each consisting of several groups (types). This is apparently an expression of the aesthetic thinking introduced by Shetelig. However, Bakka (1973, 152) used both concepts, stating that style represents a higher degree of abstraction than does the type concept. Many different kinds of rock art exist, some of which demonstrate aesthetic qualities that cause them to be considered ‘primitive’ art. Most Scandinavian rock art, however, apparently does not share these aesthetic qualities. The recent critique against style focuses primarily on its use as a dating method, but contributes to discredit the relevance of art historical theory and methodology for rock art studies in general. We should therefore ask whether the aesthetically based art historical style concept has any bearing for the study of this phenomenon (Echevarría 2013). If we question this concept, it follows that we must also question the aesthetic (style-based) chronologies suggested for the Northern rock art of Scandinavia (chapter six).

Rock art clearly was made to last. This part of Scandinavia knew no other permanent man-made monuments. Originally the engraved or painted images may not have been meant to last for more than a short time, but after a generation or two the rock art may have been identified and accepted as permanent memories of the past (Marstrander 1954; Alsaker 2005; Sognnes 2005).


From ‘Art’ to Visual Culture Rock art is not the only kind of imagery that falls outside the framework of art history. The vast majority of these different kinds of images are, however, modern. James Elkins classified these images into seven classes, called allographs, semasiographs, pseudowriting, subgraphemics, hypographemics, emblemata and schemata, respectively; rock art being classified as hypographemics (Elkins 1999, chapter 11). The terms ‘visual culture’ and ‘visual studies’ were introduced around 1970, and during the 1990s studies of visual culture developed into an academic discipline focusing on a general approach to images. It is argued that this general approach ‘allows visuality to be questioned and permits new kinds of questions to be asked that can’t be easily raised in conventional classes of art history, anthropology or sociology’ (Elkins 2003, 39).

Lewis-Williams 1981). Most of these contributions deal with questions related to interpreting the rock art, but we also find contributions to the study of visual culture in general (Layton 1991). Semiotic approaches, too, contribute to rock art research (e.g. Nordbladh 1978; Bouissac 1994). This discipline focuses more directly on images, but so far has had little influence on the study of Northern rock art. However, rock art has been central in semiotic studies of landscapes (e.g. Nash 1997; Clegg 2008; Devereux 2008). Documenting and describing the Northern rock art continued during the late twentieth century, but so far only a few regional or local monographs have been published (Simonsen 1958; Hagen 1970; Helskog 2012a; Lødøen and Mandt 2012). Interest seems to have shifted from the images per se to revised or new interpretations, from sympathetic magic to shamanism. Focus has been put on images and patterns that may be seen as evidence of internationally favoured interpretations.

Most studies of visual culture deal with ‘non-artistic, non-aesthetic, and unmediated or ‘immediate’ visual images and experiences’ (Elkins 2003, 29). Visual culture is considered to be a multi-disciplinary subject, but this multi-disciplinarity in reality consists of studies within disciplines mostly focusing on modern or post-modern phenomena outside traditional art history where aesthetic qualities play modest roles. This makes it a kind of magpie inter-disciplinarity, mixing methods, themes and texts from different disciplines (Elkins 2003, 27).

For some decades, there has been little interest in classification and the ways the images were drawn; styles and sequences presented in the 1930s were still accepted and used. Since the works of Gjessing (1936) and Hallström (1938) the number of rock panels in central Norway has tripled, while the number of images has increased by almost 160 per cent. So far, this has not led to any reconsideration. The situation is different in northern Norway, where the Alta record was unknown until the 1970s. This material differed so much from the previously known record in Norway that new basic classifications and morphological studies were necessary. Helskog (1984; 2012a) sorted the images into six diachronic phases each representing a certain period.

However, Elkins (2003, 84) claimed that visual studies can take interest in image-making practices in any academic discipline. He also argued in favour of visual studies that would be even more general, welcoming scholars from various disciplines to enter into these studies, the goal being to go ‘beyond pre-modern Western visuality and into non-Western art, archaeology and the visual elements of linguistics’ (Elkins 2003, 41). He wanted to use the full range of theories from every interested discipline of the visual, whether the ‘highest artwork or the lowest list’ (Elkins 2003, 65). I agree with Elkins in this and believe that visual culture and visual studies may represent methods for circumscribing the art historical impasse in rock art research; most rock art lacks contemporary sources providing explanations and/or interpretations. This does not mean, however, that theory and methods from other disciplines are ready to take over. On the contrary, improved rock art studies might provide significant contributions to general visual studies. Again I quote Elkins (2003, 152) who stated that ‘Visual studies are in a position to contribute to a fundamental critique of art history. There is an entire field waiting to be opened that would study past modes of seeing rather than conclusions that can be drawn given the current ways of interpreting images’.

Mikkelsen’s (1977a) study of the record from eastern Norway represents an early example of alternative classification. This classification was not based on style per se, but on the presence of identifiable elements and attributes (chapter four), that is, on a kind of deconstruction of the images in question. Malmer’s (1981) classification system for all the Scandinavian rock art followed similar principles, but he focused on a limited number of attributes. Mikkelsen (1977b) compared old and new tracings of the Northern carvings from eastern Norway. He found distinct discrepancies between these tracings. The tracings published in the first half of the twentieth century were reduced in size by manually redrawing the images. This further reduced the qualities relative to the original tracings, which were made on opaque paper; details were missing and lines became smoother than on the originals. However, these details, important as they might be, were not part of either descriptions or definitions of the styles being identified at that time. Mikkelsen’s observations are important, but had no bearing for the Northern rock art styles as they were presented.

Among the many disciplines taking an interest in visual studies are anthropology and semiotics. Anthropology has contributed to rock art studies for more than a century. Reinach’s (1903) interpretations of the FrancoCantabrian cave art being based on ethnographic literature from the late 1800s. Major recent contributions have, in particular, come from Australia (e.g. Layton 1992) and southern Africa (e.g. Vinnicombe 1977;

My own works, too, may be seen as studies of rock art as part of visual culture. I have not only looked at rock art alone but also at parts of contemporary material culture, 25

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway

Figure 12. Decorated slate points. A from Bøen in Alstahaug, B from Vikan in Hitra (author’s drawings). Figure 11. Incisions on wood from Bjønsvatnet, a lake in Oppdal (after L. Gustafson 1986b).

approaches in our studies of the past. To some extent, this has been the case for rock art studies in Scandinavia, where we find a strong tendency to see rock art isolated from contemporary material culture, even though it has been part of the archaeology curriculum for a century. Scandinavian rock art scholars rightfully should be criticised for this, but this critique may be turned around as well. Most archaeologists are so preoccupied with material culture that they ignore non-material aspects of the culture they study.

where a thorough animal symbolism can be identified. This is, in particular, the case for the Neolithic slate tools, some of which are decorated with images and line patterns familiar from the rock art repertoire. More important, however, is the existence of slate knives shaped like animals, preferably fish and whales (Sognnes 1996; 2008b). In recent years, I have studied how the rock art zoomorphs were designed, how they were constructed as drawings (Sognnes 2007). This work has given some surprising results (Sognnes 2010).

Stone Age in central Norway The Stone Age visual culture in central Norway, as we know it today, is dominated by Northern rock art. Probably this was not the case for people living in this region when the art was made. Most of this visual culture was probably located at or near dwelling sites and was part of everyday life. Houses and huts are long gone, as are weapons, tools and utensils made from wood, antler or bone. Axes, adzes, daggers and many different kinds of smaller tools made from imported flint as well as local rocks are still abundant. Megalithic grave monuments, which were an important part of the Neolithic visual culture in southern Scandinavia, are not known in this region. However, grave monuments in the shape of cairns were common in the following Bronze Age, particularly along the coast.

From my point of view as an archaeologist, I do not see visual culture as opposed to material culture. Both concepts to a large extent cover the same phenomena. Weapons, jewellery and utensils, as well as tents, huts and houses, are all part of the visual culture. One may, however, find it difficult to include rock paintings and carvings in a society’s material culture. Rock art represents features marked by mankind, but unmarked features can be important parts of the visual culture as well, for instance Sami heritage mountains, which played important roles in traditional Sami culture in and by itself (Fjellheim 1989; 1990). On a smaller scale, Sami sacrificial sites were located at special geological features, like a large door-like depression at Basseuksa at the foot of Tarrekaise mountain near Jokkmokk, northern Sweden (Manker 1971, 70-71; Mulk and Bayliss-Smith 2006, 106) or a large anthropomorph-like natural image at Seidjavr, a lake on the Kola Peninsula in Russia (Põllu 1990b, 31-33).

The earliest known non-utilitarian decoration from central Norway is found at Bjønsvatnet, a lake in the Oppdal mountains. An 18.4 cm long, worked piece of wood, which appears to have been part of a handle attached to some kind of tool, has been radiocarbon dated to the Mesolithic, 7350 ± 110 BP uncalibrated (T-6349).

What really matters here is that emphasis on visual culture and visual studies may lead to alternative 26

From ‘Art’ to Visual Culture

Figure 13. Whale-shaped slate knife from Nunfjord in Åfjord, Sør-Trøndelag (author’s drawing).

The decoration consists of incised lines and rows of notches in addition to two clusters of short lines resembling zigzags (Figure 11). Weapons and utensils formed a significant part, not only of the material culture but of the visual culture as well. Most artefacts were standardised into what archaeologists refer to as types. The Neolithic cultures of southern Scandinavia developed a number of axe and adze types made from flint, which are found in central Norway too (e.g. Asprem 2005; 2012), apparently representing the spread of early farming into this northern land. This southern complex of material culture also includes artefacts made from other kinds of stone, for instance, battle axes characterising the Middle Neolithic ‘Battle Axe Culture’ (Marstrander 1954; Alsaker 2005), and axes belonging to the Early Neolithic ‘Funnel Beaker Culture’ (Østmo 2000). Of special interest here is a small midden at Hammersvollen, a former croft on Bardal Farm in Steinkjer, which was excavated a century ago (T. Petersen 1912). Among otherwise insignificant finds was an ox tooth that has been radiocarbon dated to 3895 ± 40 BP (Asprem 2012, 146), that is, to the transition between the Late Neolithic and the Bronze Age.

Figure 14. Slate dagger from Brynhildsvollen in Røros (© NTNU Museum).

Another artefact complex, called the Slate Industry, exists in this region and contains axes and adzes, knives and points made from slates and schists, or other local rocks. These artefacts, which vary considerably in size, can be sorted into a limited number of types (e.g. Brøgger 1909). Figure 12 shows two long, narrow slate points decorated with simple line patterns, short horizontal lines on A from Bøen in Alstahaug or zigzags on B from Vikan in Hitra. Knives, too, may be decorated. Figure 13 shows an example from Nunfjord in Åfjord. This particular knife is decorated with zigzags, which the Indian scholar Balaji Mundkur (1983, 158-159) interpreted as a snake symbol.

Risvik in Meløy, Nordland (Gjessing 1934). Figure 14 shows an example from Brynhildsvollen in Røros. Both on this dagger and the Risvik knife, the end seems to depict an elk’s head. The Brynhildsvollen dagger was found in an inland mountain area, whereas most slate knives and daggers come from the coast where most dwelling sites from both the Mesolithic and the Neolithic are located, too (Søborg 1988; Alsaker 2005, 65), bearing witness to a population primarily exploiting maritime resources, fishing and hunting marine mammals and aquatic birds. Figure 15 shows two slightly curved slate knives from Myklebostad in Rana (A) and Eikrem in Aukra (B), respectively. When we look more closely at these knives, we find that they might resemble bananas, hence the term banana-shaped knives used by Brøgger (1909)), but, in reality, these slightly curved knives are shaped like fish with the shafts ending in a short tail and fins indicated at both sides. These artefacts may be decorated with line incisions, mostly parallel lines or zigzags. However, occasionally small depictions of animals are seen, for instance on a slate point found near

Normally, these knives are presented with the cutting edge facing down. However, when we display the Nunfjord knife turned 180° around we find that its outline resembles that of a whale, the dorsal fin being especially marked at the transition between the blade and the shaft. Furthermore, if we turn the knife back, we find that the end of the handle resembles a bird’s head. Slate knives and daggers may have shaft ends shaped like a distinct animal head, for instance, a broken knife from


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway perspective’ characteristic for most whale images on rocks; the tails were drawn with two short, parallel lines.

Figure 15. Fish-shaped slate knives. A from Myklebostad in Rana, B from Eikrem in Aukra (author’s drawings).

Figure 16. Decorated stone slab with incised, single-line quadrupeds, from Grut in Meldal (author’s drawing).

Gjessing (1936, 145) brought a small slab of slate from Grut in Meldal into the rock art discourse. This slab, which is decorated on both sides, is an undated stray find. Of primary interest here are three simple, incised zoomorphs on the side shown in Figure 16, probably depicting cervids, and a similar unfinished image on the other side. At first glance, these images show some resemblance to the single-line zoomorphs at Bogge and Holte, but nothing distinctive can be said regarding the age or context of this slab and, as such, it does not contribute to the current discussion. We may also see some similarities between the parallel notches on the wooden object from Oppdal and some of the notches on the edge of this slab, but considering the high age of the Oppdal object, I regard this as coincidental. Similar animals and zigzag bands are, however, known from traditional Sami handicraft, including single-line animals from shamans’ drums (e.g. Manker 1965) and zigzag bands from Southern Sami handicraft in Trøndelag, Nord-land and adjacent parts of Sweden (Manker 1971; Huldt 1920). Taking the lack of weathering of the slab into consideration as well, I find it most probable that these carvings are of fairly recent Sami origin, and not from the Stone Age. In addition to the decorated slate points and knives, some small figurines are found, among them a bird from Solsem cave, Leka. It has been tentatively identified as depicting the extinct great auk (Pinguinus impennis) and is made from cattle bone (T. Petersen 1914, 35). As stated below radiocarbon dates from this cave indicate that it was used during the Early Bronze Age through to the Early Iron Age (Sognnes 2009).

Few figurines are known and, except for the Solsem bird, they have been found without any context and are dated to the Stone Age in general due to their similarity with rock art images. A small whale, probably a killer whale, was found at Asmundvåg in Hitra (Marstrander 1970b) and was probably worn as an amulet (Figure 17), and a piece of slate with two sculpted animal heads, elk and bear, came from Tustna (Sognnes 2008b). To these figurines should be added the sculpted animal heads on the end of knife shafts, like the Risvik knife.

Figure 17. Whale figurine from Asmundvåg in Hitra (© NTNU Museum).

the mouth of Ångermanälven, a river in Sweden (Baudou 1993, 89). The close relationship between Northern rock art and artefacts belonging to the Slate Industry is further emphasised by a knife fashioned from red slate found in Teksdal, Sør-Trøndelag with whale images engraved on both sides of the blade. These images show great similarities with some of the rock carvings, particularly carvings with internal line patterns found at Evenhus, Hammer and Lånke. One side of the Teksdal knife has one complete image, the other side two less complete images. These images were not drawn in the ‘twisted

Five pieces of amber of Baltic origin were found at Lines Farm, Åfjord, in the late 1800s. They all have a hole at the top and may have been used as pendants, or 28

From ‘Art’ to Visual Culture perhaps together as a necklace. One of these pieces is shaped like an animal, probably a bear. Unfortunately, the hind leg is missing (Brøgger 1909, 185-186; Marstrander 1954, 55). Rønne (2014) identified this animal as a boar and compared it with Mesolithic amber zoomorphs, most of which are found in Denmark, suggesting that the amber is most probably of Danish origin. Another possible neck-lace was later found on neighbouring Eid Farm and consists of six pendants made from smoothly polished bone slices in the shape of crescent moons (Marstrander 1954, 57). These have been compared with similarly shaped amber pendants from Herøy in Sunnmøre, Møre and Romsdal (Brøgger 1909; 187). The Eid pendants may be home-made copies of imported amber pendants.

Figure 18. Bird-like boat images: A from Hammer in Steinkjer, B from Evenhus in Frosta, C from Hovden, Sogn and Fjordane, D from Røkke in Stjørdal (after Gjessing 1936; Mandt 1991 and Sognnes 2001).

Finally, a small group of ‘spade-like’ pendants should be mentioned, many of which are found in Sør-Trøndelag (Brøg-ger 1909, 90; Marstrander 1954, 157). Recently, fragments of two such items were found during excavations at Vasseter on the island of Hitra. One of these fragments was found near a hearth, which appears to have been located in a house, probably from the Neolithic (Haug 1997).

identifications in many cases seem to be based on the geographical distribution of each species in recent times, for instance red deer in western Norway and reindeer in northern Norway (Hagen 1976). In central Norway, however, all three species are frequent today.

Ambiguous animal symbolism

Some images clearly were meant to be difficult to identify. In particular, this holds true for two images at Reiten (Møllenhus 1968a). Others seem not to depict any real animals that live or have lived in the region, like some images at Rødsand. In some ways, these images resemble dogs, but one of them has two long, strongly curved horns (Sognnes 1996).

This short presentation of rock art and contemporary artefacts demonstrates the existence of a profound animal symbolism in Neolithic central Norway. At the same time, this material demonstrates a strong tendency towards ambiguity; one image or artefact may represent at least two animals depending on the angle or direction from which they are seen. Again, we are dealing with perception. A knife may be shaped like a whale, but at the same time, when turned upside down, resemble a bird. This ambiguity is most common for the slate knives, but we find similar examples in rock art, for instance at Søbstad and Bardal, where a bird image seen from the opposite direction may resemble a whale. For images located on a vertical panel we may not question our immediate and intuitive identifications, but on horizontal panels the images can be seen from different directions and consequently be identified alternatively.

The mixture between different animals, which are represented on the slate knives, can be found in rock art, too. Bakka’s (1988) tracing of a hybrid bear/whale at Hammer is questionable (Stölting 1988, 233), but at Lånke we find that the front of a whale apparently is combined with the leg of a cervid (Sognnes 1983, Plate XVII). However, such hybrid animals are rare. To this class of images we may add some anthropomorphs, which seem to have a bird’s head. These may, however, depict humans wearing masks. Most interesting are the combinations between boats and animals found at Evenhus and Hammer. At Nämforsen and in Alta an elk head is frequently drawn on top of the stem. There are far fewer boats in central Norway and here the end of the prow appears to be drawn as a bird’s head. In addition, the stern may be shaped like a bird’s tail, and, sometimes, the hull may resemble the trunk of a bird. This kind of boat, although drawn in a different style, is seen in Southern rock art, too. Four of these images are shown in Figure 18, the upper two from Evenhus (A) and Hammer (B), respectively (Gjessing 1936; Bakka 1988). In D from Røkke (Sognnes 2001) and C from Hovden in Bremanger (Mandt 1991), which belong to the Southern rock art tradition, the bird’s head and tail can still be identified. Dark, shadow-like ‘boats’ looking like these can actually be seen when, for instance, seagulls float on calm water reflecting low sunlight.

This ambiguity can be identified at several levels. We have few problems identifying the majority of the rock carvings and paintings as representing animals and we can generally identify them as quadrupeds, birds, fish, etc., but identification on the species level is often difficult. This particularly holds true for the birds, but even for the whales. Quadrupeds can be identified as either elk or reindeer, but many cervids, perhaps the majority, cannot be identified at the species level. The easiest way to separate the three major cervids is by studying the antler, the shape of which is specific for each species. The majority of the cervid images, however, do not have antlers and we have to search for other characteristics. Normally, these are easier to find on the larger images; the smaller and more stylised ones are generally more ambiguous. In particular, the small, single-line quadrupeds are difficult to identify. Pre-vious 29

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway geometric patterns). In the case of the artefacts, the animal shape clearly came first; this also seems to be the case for rock art. The psychograms are additions that may help to ‘explain’ the original zoomorphs. The co-variation of whales, boats and birds indicates that we are dealing with a dichotomy between cervids versus whales and birds. This animal symbolism sets Neolithic groups in central and northern Scandinavia apart from their counterparts in southern Scandinavia. In southern Scandinavia, we find a corresponding symbolism, which, however, was more fully developed during the Bronze Age. The meanings of these partly parallel symbolic systems can probably best be studied in the area where both are fairly well represented, that is, the frontier zone between the southern Scandinavian early agriculturalists and their contemporary northern Scandinavian foragers, which makes central Norway an especially suitable laboratory for studying the relationship between these two symbolic systems.

Figure 19. Initial body segments of cervids resembling boats and slate knives. A from Evenhus in Frosta, B from Bogge in Nesset, C from Rykkje, Hordaland (originals after Gjessing 1936 and Bakka 1973).

Figure 19 illustrates an even more complex situation. On the top row, complete carvings from Evenhus (A) and Bogge (B) are presented together with a carving from Rykkje in Kvam, Hordaland (C). In the bottom row, all lines except those, which are part of the basic, initial segments drawn by the artists, are removed (see chapter four). Looking closer at these images we find that the initial segments resemble the outline of whale-shaped slate knives with shaft ends shaped like an animal head. On A and C, the prows now look more like bird’s heads than the head of an elk, while the head on B is less distinct. Turned upside down, we may identify incomplete whales.

Most slate knives are found on the coasts of the northern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, in central Norway and adjacent districts in northern Norway along the Norwegian Sea (North Atlantic) in the west and the Gulf of Bothnia in the east. Important finds are known from the interior of this peninsula as well (Søborg 1988; Baudou 1993; Berge 2006). The choice of raw materials and the ways the different kinds and types of weapons and utensils were made may be interpreted as evidence of contacts across this part of the peninsula.

At the same time, these images look like half boats of a different kind than the ones shown in Figure 18. To my knowledge, the existence of boats like these has not been identified before. Probably only the curved bow part is drawn, but, as demonstrated in chapter three, complete depictions of these boats may also exist.

To sum up: zoomorphic images seen in the Northern rock art of central Norway show that animal symbolism played an important role in the Slate Industry in this region. Rock art apparently dominated the visual culture, together with whale-shaped knives. However, this may be the result of weathering processes. The present artefact distribution depends on human behaviour in the past as well as the present, but also on natural processes, in particular for artefacts made from bone and wood. Rock art on the other hand cannot be moved and therefore is not lost or discarded unless the rock surfaces are vandalised or otherwise destroyed, which hardly ever seems to have happened. The Bronze Age superimpositions at Bardal I may be classified as vandalism, but the older strata with carvings on this panel are still present.

Conclusions Parts of this animal symbolism were found all over northern Scandinavia during the Neolithic. Images depicting animals, especially elk but also whales and birds, dominate rock art. Similar images were engraved on slate knives, which sometimes also have handles shaped like animal heads. Small, sculpted animalshaped figurines are found, too. To this must be added knives and daggers shaped like animals, mostly whales and fish, but birds are represented, too. Occasionally geometric patterns merge with the zoomorphs into an entity and, as demonstrated above, two or more animals may be represented on the same artefacts and rock carvings. We also find merging between boats and animals.

Meanings and functions of the mobile art are difficult to establish, but the knives must have had distinct functions; the whale-shaped knives show remarkable similarities with modern knives made from steel used for flensing fish (Pettersen 1985, 127).

Paraphrasing Emmanuel Anati (1988, 104-107), this represents a merging between pictograms (animal-shaped images, tools and weapons) and psychograms (abstract 30

From ‘Art’ to Visual Culture Looking at the rock art, the figurines and the decorated artefacts from a wider perspective we find that only a small part of the contemporary visual culture is represented. Foci are on portraying a limited number of animals. The wooden artefact from Oppdal demonstrates the existence of carvings on other materials than rocks, but, in reality, this find illustrates the problem of weathering processes, setting a question mark at all our conclusions, reminding us that decorations on wood, antlers and bones are missing among the remains of Stone Age visual culture.

However, the fact that this limited range of animal species was depicted on the rocks indicates that they had some specific importance during the Late Mesolithic and Neolithic. In northern Scandinavia, boats, too, were of special importance as a symbol on the rocks. This motif dominates in Alta (Helskog 2012) and at Nämforsen (Hallström 1938). Hardly any boats are found south of Trondheimsfjord, but some hitherto unrecognised boat images may actually exist in southern Norway, too (see chapter three). This is surprising considering the importance of boats for transporting people living by the sea and for exploiting marine resources, including aquatic birds.

We face a situation where important parts of the visual culture apparently were isolated from daily life. True, visual culture and material culture meet in the shape and decoration of some slate knives, but artefacts, whether tools or weapons, apparently are not represented in rock art. Neither do we find depictions of houses or domestic life. People are hardly represented, and so far we know only one hunting scene (possibly two) in which a boat takes part. Boats are virtually the only ‘artefacts’ represented in the Northern rock art within the study area.

Although the number of boats is relatively modest at Trondheimsfjord, we find a strong tendency for clustering at a few sites, in particular at Evenhus and Hammer. The conclusion here is that boats were part of the Northern rock art repertoire in central Norway, but they had a significantly different distribution from that of zoomorphs, even the marine ones.



Images and style

Trøndelag, too. Of special interest are the slabs from the Mjeltehaugen mound on Giske Farm in Sunnmøre, Møre and Romsdal. This site marks the gateway to the central Norwegian rock art province.

Rock art may be classified in many different ways. Based on the subject matter, Scandinavian rock art has been divided for more than a century into two major classes or traditions that have been interpreted differently, partly due to different geographical distributions and partly because they have been dated to different periods, Stone Age vs. Bronze Age, respectively. In addition, they were associated with different subsistence strategies, foraging vs. farming. The subsistence aspect was emphasised by Brøgger (1906; 1925; 1931), who temporarily changed his opinion on the dating of the Northern rock art, but stood firmly on his claim that the art expressed ‘the psychology of hunting’ (Brøgger 1925, 92).

The Mjeltehaugen slabs are decorated with ‘textile’ patterns, frequently with short, vertical, tassel-like lines, but we also find various boat images similar to those known from Southern tradition open-air rock art sites in Stjørdal, Nord-Trøndelag (Sognnes 2001a) and at some sites in western Norway (Fett and Fett 1941; Mandt Larsen 1972; Mandt 1991). Two examples were presented in Figure 18. The decorations found on these slabs appear to be foreign to both Scandinavian open-air rock art traditions, although cup-marks and boat images indicate some connection with the Southern tradition at its very beginning (Fett and Fett 1941; Marstrander 1963; Sognnes 1987; Randsborg 1993; Vogt 2012). The geometric designs indicate the existence of contemporary influences from European Bell Beaker cultures (Marstrander 1963; 1978; Randsborg 1993). These decorated grave slabs thus may represent a phase in Scandinavian visual culture that antedates the Southern rock art tradition. This raises the question of possible relationships between the Neolithic/Bronze Age grave-art tradition and Northern rock art, especially in central Norway, where the maximum dates for most Northern rock art sites fall within the Neolithic (chapter six).

This dichotomy in the rock art in Norway may, however, be challenged and I would claim that two more traditions exist: cave art and funerary art. Cave art is known from coastal caves between Trondheimsfjord and the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway. The first cave art was found at Solsem Farm on Leka and Tenfjord Farm in Nærøy in the outer Namdal district of Nord-Trøndelag (T. Petersen 1914; Marstrander 1965; Sognnes 2009), but most subsequent discoveries have been made in the county of Nordland (Sognnes 1982; Bjerck 1995; 2012). Only stick-line anthropomorphs are found in most of these caves, but some stick-line animals are found in the Skåren-Monsen cave in Brønnøysund (Sognnes 1982). The areas in which these caves are located have few sites with open-air rock art. This, together with the fact that stick-line anthropomorphs are extremely rare in Northern rock art in this region, leads me to conclude that the cave art represents a tradition of its own. It was because these images are painted, not because of the motifs represented, that they were claimed to be part of the Northern tradition, no paintings being known in the Southern tradition (Gjessing 1936, 180).

Rock art is often divided into representational images that can be identified as picturing something, humans, animals, artefacts, etc., and images that to us appear as mere abstract line patterns. As mentioned above, Anati divides rock art into three classes of images: pictograms, ideograms and psychograms. The distinction between ideograms and psychograms seems, however, to have little bearing for Northern rock art, since there are extremely few examples of these classes of images in the record being studied here.

Bronze Age funerary art (de Lange 1912; Marstrander 1978; Syvertsen 2002; Vogt 2012) may be classified as a separate tradition, too. It mostly consists of decorated grave slabs found in Bronze Age cairns. Unfortunately, no undisturbed graves with complete decorated slabs have been found. Most slabs only contain cup-marks, but some are decorated with geometric line patterns like semi-circles and parallel, short, oblique lines separated by horizontal lines. Most of these slabs are found in the county of Rogaland, western Norway, but some are in

The representational images in central Norway are divided into anthropomorphs, zoomorphs and man-made objects, etc. Animals, particularly cervids, are the most common motif. Hodgson (2013, with references therein) emphasises the need prehistoric people had to rapidly detect and identify animals and thus their preoccupation with animals and their portrayal in rock art. The predominance of drawings in contour profile all over the world, he claims, derives from the way the visual brain func-


Classifications tions, which was crucial for survival. Furthermore, the human brain possesses a neural structure in the temporal cortex dedicated to the recognition of animals, and the sideways profile view of animals is the most effective and dependable means of identifying an animal (Hodgson 2013, 1-3).

This interpretation was based on observations made by Rekstad (1916), a geologist who first described some of the sites in question, that red ochre covered some lines. This was strongly disputed by Hallström (1938, 85) who visited the sites a few years after Rekstad without seeing any traces of pigments. However, during his visit, Hallström did not know about Rekstad’s observations and may therefore not have been prepared to see any pigmentation (Gjessing 1932, 36).

Drawing animals is, however, difficult, and Nordic zoomorphic images are drawn in many different ways, with a wide range of variations and attributes. The zoomorphs, and the cervids in particular, have therefore been most intensely debated, classified and re-classified. These classifications are partly based on archaeological methods, that is, on typology, but occasionally on art historical aesthetic principles, that is, styles. The animals are classified according to biological principles, too, preferably at the species level, but many images cannot be identified at this level. This biological classification, which for us is correct, had no relevance for prehistoric humans, but it is not possible for us today to reconstruct the thinking of Mesolithic and Neolithic people in Scandinavia regarding the natural world surrounding them.

Gjessing accepted Rekstad’s observations and saw the existence of rock paintings in central Norway as supporting his hypothesis (Gjessing 1936, 181). Erling Johansen (1944) claimed to have found traces of red paint on Southern tradition carvings on three panels at Solberg in Østfold, east Norway. Some of these carvings had been polished after they were pecked, and traces of polishing were found under the paint as well, the paint being partly covered by lichen. The thickness of the paint varied. Analyses showed that the pigment consisted of haematite (Fe2O3). Johansen’s (1944, 302) conclusion was that these carvings were originally painted. This question has scarcely been broached since due to lack of new evidence. However, Norsted (2010b, 6) recently documented the fragmentary paintings found at the Sandhalsen rock shelters at Vasstrand in Åfjord, SørTrøndelag. The best-preserved ones appear to be superimposed on an engraved boat image, which had been covered by lichen for a long time. He showed that the engraved lines were partly covered by red paint.

Since the 1920s, the Northern rock art in Norway has been sorted into several styles based on aesthetic criteria. Interestingly, this was not done for the Southern rock art, which was sorted into types. This mirrors the interest in these rock art traditions among specialists. While Shetelig (1925b, 14) found that some of the Northern carvings had aesthetic qualities, he found no such qualities among the Southern tradition carvings. Gjessing (1936; Hallström 1938) sorted the record in central Norway into three styles within a theoretically evolutionist framework. He had already (Gjessing 1932) identified a fourth style in northern Norway. These styles, which primarily functioned as a means for dating the Northern rock art from this region, have recently come under scrutiny. Helskog (1987), for instance, identified different styles in the large Alta record that deviated strongly from the record further south. For some researchers, style thinking has become a kind of straightjacket (e.g. Lindgaard 2014). However, attempts to break out of this straightjacket have been presented (Sognnes 2010; chapter four). The style sequences as a dating framework will be discussed in chapter six.

Most paintings are found on vertical rock at remote sites (Hagen 1976, 132), and it has been claimed that they exist today due to protection from overhanging rock (Hagen 1976, 133). Hallström (1938, 395) considered Honnhammar III to be unique in northern Europe in that the paintings lacked overhanging rock and were exposed to sun, water, rain and snow. Around 20 painted panels are now known at Honnhammaren, but only two are in shallow rock shelters. Indeed, in the study area, there generally seems to be no overhanging rock above rock paintings. The paintings seem to form a homogenous class of images. However, after electron microscope studies, Michelsen (1983; 1992) found that some of these ‘paintings’ were made by scraping away natural iron oxide concretions, so they are not paintings in a strict sense. Whether Michelsen’s interpretation is correct is uncertain, but patches of red surface concretions are found on many rock outcrops in coastal central Norway, especially at Honnhammaren (Linge 2014). The weathered surface of Nerhol I demonstrates the existence of red pigments within the rock itself. If scratching was used to make these images, one may assume that scraped-off pigment could have been used to enhance them and to make other paintings on the same panels.

Techniques Northern rock art was made in two different ways, either by adding substances to the rock surface or by removing parts of the surface; the images were painted or engraved. The added substances consist of red pigments (iron oxides) probably mixed with some kind of solution acting as a binder, but no binder has been identified so far. The distinction between paintings and carvings, however, is not always clear-cut. Gjessing (1936, 79) noticed that some painted lines at Gjølga (Rauhammerfjellet) in Bjugn appeared to be delimited by peck-marks. He also claimed that rock art at some sites in northern Nordland was probably ground or polished to form guidelines before paint was applied and that the paint is now missing due to weathering processes (Gjessing 1932, 36).

Hard stones were hammered on the bedrock to make the carvings, either directly (pounding) or indirectly (pecking) (Bednarik 2001, 200-201). As mentioned above, some carvings in northern Norway have lines that were 33

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway made by abrasion, whether by grinding or polishing (Gjessing 1932; Hallström 1938), ultimately resulting in shallow, light-coloured lines. It has been claimed that some of these lines today are level with or even higher than the surrounding rock (Gjessing 1932, 36), but such suggested, vertical weathering has not been measured. At most of these sites, the rock surface is porous, but yet fairly well preserved, and Late Pleistocene glacial striations still exist. The weathering appears to start in narrow pores that gradually widen and eventually merge with adjacent pores creating weathered patches without any trace of glacial striations (Sognnes 2012, Figs. 10, 11). Here, of course, the original surface is destroyed.

37) listed several other examples where different carving techniques may have been used on the same image. This should be a reminder that rock carvings, as we see them today, may be the result of many generations’ work on the images using several different techniques, combined with natural weathering processes. Subject matter The majority of the images known from the study area are representational. We have no problems in identifying most of them today, and I find it unlikely that their prehistoric makers and contemporary spectators identified them differently, although they did not necessarily focus on species the way we do. Whether these images had additional meanings is another question. They are dominated by depictions of large prey animals, which are drawn in many different ways. The images can be divided into two major classes, terrestrial and maritime, cervids being the main terrestrial motifs (Figures 20-22) and whales, boats and aquatic birds the most frequent maritime motifs (Figures 23-24).

A third technique was used at Hell in Nord-Trøndelag. The lines on this panel are cut or incised deeply into the rock surface. This technique is common in, for instance, the Sahara (Gauthier et al. 1996), but is rare in Norway, and Gjerde (2010, 14) suggested that these lines were actually ground into the rock. This may be correct for the larger Hell images, but scarcely for the smaller ones. The bedrock at Hell, which consists of fine-grained, calciterich greywacke with plagioclase feldspar and chlorite as minor minerals (Prestvik 1981), is soft and can easily be engraved while wet. Shallower versions of this incision technique are found at several Southern tradition sites in the region, mostly on footprints, the nearest to Hell being at Hagen Farm, around 4 km to the south (Sognnes 2001a). On the other side of the Stjørdal valley, a panel at Berg contains several incised footprints together with Medieval and later graffiti made using the same technique (Sognnes 2015). A recent excavation in the same area revealed incised footprints beneath a Bronze Age cairn (Haug 2011).

Identifying animals in rock art may not be as straightforward as it seems. Scandinavian archaeologists and rock art researchers tend to do this straightforwardly; an elklike image represents an elk. Whether these classifications are correct may, however, be disputed. They are closely connected with the basic question of why rock art was made, why people felt obliged to draw and paint these particular images and symbols on rocks. This was no problem for a Norwegian scholar like Gjessing (1936, 1945) working within the paradigm of hunting magic established in the early twentieth century; the elk was an important prey animal and represented food for many days. If, on the other hand, we see these images not as depictions of particular species but as symbols or metaphors, the situation becomes different. Lack of direct associations between image and animal has been accepted for a long time in Australia (Bednarik 2013, with references therein), where any identification at this level is set in quotation marks; in this case it would be ‘elk’.

At Honnhammaren, some shallow, discontinuous lines forming boat-like images were superficially scratched onto the rock surface and covered by red paint (Sognnes 1995a). This probably explains why these scratch marks are still visible today. These boats have been identified as belonging to the early Southern tradition type found in central Norway, and may have been made already in the Late Neolithic. This way of first sketching an image on the rock by scratching some faint lines may have been a common procedure in the making of rock carvings. Whether pecking, pounding, incising or grinding was used, the final images would normally destroy the original faint lines. The scratched images at Honnhammar I were not recognised and acknowledged until the early 1990s. They are, however, visible on early nineteenth century photographs, some of which have been published (Gjessing 1936, Plate XL).

Focus on the larger animals and exclusion of the smaller ones, which formed most of the diet, is something Northern rock art has in common with the Late Palaeolithic Franco-Cantabrian cave art, although the species depicted are different. The elk (moose) was the largest terrestrial mammal living in Holocene Scandinavia. It is an herbivore, but its sheer size and strength makes it dangerous for humans in accidental encounters. More recently, the elk played the major role in mythology in the Eurasian taiga zone (Martynov 1991). The reindeer holds a similar position among the Sami of northern Fennoscandia (Pentikäinen 1998). These are the areas in which ethnographic data primarily should be searched for in our attempts to understand and interpret the role the elk was given in the ancient rock art of northern Scandinavia.

Two different methods appear to have been used together on some panels, for instance at Vistnesdalen, where most of the images were made by pecking or pounding, but some lines on one image were incised. The large reindeer at Bøla may have been pecked or pounded, too, but the furrows seen today are smooth, as if they were polished. This may, however, be the result of people in modern times rubbing pebbles along the furrows, trying to make them more visible for photography. Gjessing (1932, 36-

Where the Eurasian taiga reaches its western end on the coasts of Norway, the rock art motif repertoire is supplemented with motifs belonging to a maritime subtradition, 34

Classifications periodicals and/or report series (e.g. Møllenhus 1968a; 1968b: Sognnes 1981; 1996; Bakka and Gaustad 1974; Bakka 1988). The majority of the sites are oriented towards the sea, which can be seen from most sites even today, and some coastal sites are still located close to the shore, for instance Søbstad. Superimpositions occur on the larger panels, for instance at Bogge, Evenhus and Bardal (Gjessing 1936), where elk, whales and boats are found together. As stated above, our classifications do not necessarily mirror how ancient people experienced and classified these animals. Our way of thinking differs, for instance, from that of the Medieval Period, when certain characterising attributes were emphasised (Plukowski 2004). When we look at the rock art, we seldom find zoomorphs that can be identified by a few attributes alone, like antler and shaggy throat hair for the reindeer, muzzle and beard for the elk. Frequently, these attributes seem to play no role at all, like at Honnhammaren where some quadrupeds have trunks resembling turtles rather than elk, whereas the ears indicate that they must after all represent elk. Gjessing (1945, 268) noted this lack of interest in details, claiming that the meaning of these animals was released from their naturalistic form; the images had turned into symbols.

Figure 20. Elk at Evenhus in Frosta (after Gjessing 1936).

Hunting is still a favourite sport in rural Norway, with elk, red deer and reindeer as the major prey animals, together with grouse. This hunting takes place in a modern world where clear distinctions are drawn between humans and animals, and culture and nature. This relationship between humans and animals differs from the world of Stone Age foragers, which in many ways may be compared with the animist relationships found in modern foraging groups (e.g. Coneller 2004). We may suggest that the Mesolithic and Neolithic people of central Norway, who most probably made the rock art being studied here, had close spiritual relations with the animals they hunted (Ingold 1994; Oma 2010).

Figure 21. Red deer (?) at Bogge in Nesset (after Gjessing 1936).

Cervids Anders Hagen pointed out that the three larger cervids found here today live in different regions and habitats in Norway. This does not, however, imply that their distributions were the same during earlier Holocene periods, since the climate and vegetation have changed. We may suggest that red deer were mostly depicted in western Norway, reindeer mostly in northern Norway, while elk dominate on sites in eastern and central Norway, which corresponds with the current distribution of these species (Hagen 1976). However, for many motifs this level of identification seems to have been of little importance or interest for either artists or contemporary spectators.

Figure 22. Reindeer at Hell in Stjørdal (after Sognnes 1981b).

the images of which, in relative terms, are particularly abundant in central parts of the country, that is, in our study area. Birds and porpoises were eaten, but osteological studies of bone remains from dwelling sites indicate that various species of fish and seals were consumed much more frequently. Some marine animals may be identified at the species level. Fish are rare, and seals are hardly represented at all. Boats are found at only a limited number of sites. Motifs representing birds are found at several sites, but the majority are at Hammer and Horjem. Gjessing (1936) and Hallström (1938) studied those known in the early twentieth century. Later discoveries are published in local

The different ways cervids were drawn can be sorted into a limited number of schemata. Frequently, each part of the animal was treated independently; some may appear to be ‘naturalistic’, others ‘schematic’. We should there35

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway fore look at the trunk, legs, head, antlers, ears, tail, etc. separately. Then we find that the trunk may be contoured, while antlers and/or legs may be drawn with single lines. Ears may or may not be present; if they are present, one or two ears may be drawn. The trunk may have some kind of interior line pattern, no such pattern, being drawn as a silhouette, or a single line. Two legs only (one foreleg and one hind leg) or all four legs may be drawn; hooves may or may not being indicated, etc. Each image thus consists of a set of variables, which may be represented by a number of classificatory attributes, following the terminology of Adams and Adams (1991, 169; Mikkelsen 1977a).

This may be due to weathering processes or, perhaps, rock art was not made during hunting expeditions in this area. Both male and female reindeer have antlers, which they, however, shed at different times. The antler can easily be recognised since it consists of two distinct forward-protruding branches. Males have shaggy hair under their throat (Hagen 1976, 69-70). In modern times, reindeer herding has been an important part of the Sami economy, but during early historic and prehistoric times hunting seems to have been more important (Hansen and Olsen 2004, 205-214). Pitfalls and simple fences leading to corrals were common. The fences may also lead towards lakes where the animals were killed while swimming (Blehr 1971; 2011). Corralling was used to domesticate the animals (Ruong 1969, 4042), and reindeer corrals are identified among the rock carvings in Alta (Helskog 1988; 2012a). Arrowheads found in Sami sacrificial sites in Sweden from the Iron Age and the Medieval Period (Serning 1956; Zachrisson 1976) demonstrate that hunting with bow and arrow was common, at least in these periods, whereas during the Viking Period bows and arrows were apparently more frequently used in mountainous areas in central and western Norway (Farbregd 1972; Sognnes 1977).

A male elk (Alces alces) may reach more than 2 m tall and weigh as much as 800 kg. It has a long upper lip and a distinct hump on its back above its front legs (Figure 20). The male also has a fur-covered skin fold under the throat, referred to above as the ‘beard’. Furthermore, males have large palmate antlers that are shed in late autumn. Cows do not, however, have antlers. The elk is the largest animal in the present Norwegian fauna and is still a major prey, living in forested areas in most of the country. It is, however, rare in mountainous areas and the steep fjord terrain of western Norway. During the Holocene hypsithermal period, the forest limit reached higher on the mountains than today. Excavations at ancient settlements have demonstrated that elk at that time actually lived in mountainous areas and some fjord districts as well. Elk are migratory animals, following the same paths year after year. The characteristic traits mentioned above, when present, make it fairly easy to identify living elk as well as prehistoric representations of them (Hagen 1976, 58-59).

The size of the rock images representing cervids varies considerably. Some images at Bardal are larger than lifesize, being up to 3.30 m long (Gjessing 1936), the smaller ones are no more than 20 cm long, like at Lånke (Sognnes 1983). Elk are found all over the region from the coast to the border mountains. The elk is the most frequent rock art motif in the adjacent part of northern Sweden, too (Hallström 1960; Lindgren 2004). Reindeer were apparently only drawn at sites east of Trondheimsfjord. Red deer can scarcely be identified, but it has been suggested that a herd is depicted at Bogge (Gjessing 1936, 118-123).

The presence of specific elk traits in Northern rock art varies. Antlers are rare, while the skin fold under the throat is common. The hump is present on many images, but most frequent are long ears and the long upper lip, which forms a hanging muzzle. Sometimes these are the only characteristic traits present. The long legs may be emphasised, but this does not always seem to have mattered to the artists.

Other terrestrial animals The importance and central position of cervids in the Northern rock art of Norway is further emphasised by the small number of other terrestrial animals, both the species represented and the actual number of images. The roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), the smallest cervid living in Norway today, is apparently not depicted. Small images picturing unidentified quadrupeds are, however, found at some sites. One of these, at Stykket (Sognnes 1981a, 26), may represent a hare (Lepus timidus). Images at Vistnesdalen (Lund 1941; Sognnes 1989) and Strand (Gjessing 1936) fall into this category, too.

In modern times, red deer (Cervus elaphus) have lived in the coastal counties of western and central Norway, near the borders between forest and cultivated land. The red deer (Figure 21) is smaller than the elk, but larger than the reindeer. Its antlers differ significantly from those of the elk and the neck is statelier and longer. The rump is different, too. For most of the year, stags and hinds form separate herds, which migrate seasonally. Only males have antlers (Hagen 1976, 79).

Most non-cervid images picture the brown bear (Ursus arctos), which played an important role in Sami mythology and beliefs (Zachrisson and Iregren 1974; Kjellström 2000; Pentikäinen 2007; Helskog 2012). Bears are depicted on rock in most of northern Europe, but the majority are found in Alta, where 105 bears have been identified. To these should be added 17 from other sites in northern Norway (Helskog 2012, 218-219). A similar veneration of this animal cannot be identified in central

The reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), which is the smallest of the three large cervids (Figure 22), forms large herds. In central and northern Norway, reindeer are domesticated and are herded by Sami. Some twenty local stocks of wild reindeer still live in southern Norway, the largest being on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau between western and eastern Norway. Surprisingly, no rock art representing reindeer is known from these mountainous areas. 36


Figure 23. A school of flounders or halibuts at Selset in Inderøy (after Gjessing 1936).

Norway (Table I); just a few images are found at Bøla and Hammer (Sognnes 1981b; Bakka 1988). Some images at Lånke may depict the beaver (Castor fiber) (Sognnes 1983). They all have short, rounded bodies, and one has a distinct, wide tail.

seal images may actually exist. They are perhaps represented by some indistinct heads with blunt snouts, for instance at Holte II. If so, they would represent animals floating in the sea. The seals are drawn in ways similar to the whales. They are outlined, except for a peculiar image at Reiten (Møllenhus 1968a).

Marine animals

Images depicting whales are, above all, found in central and northern Norway. Identification at the species level is difficult, but most images apparently depict porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), which are common in Norwegian waters today. Other species identified are the killer whale (Orca gladiator), pilot whale (Globicephala melaena) and bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus). In central Norway, most whales are found at just a few sites, especially at Evenhus (Gjessing 1936) and Hammer (Bakka 1975; 1988). Most of these whales are drawn with a kind of ‘twisted perspective’. Their tail is really horizontal, but on most images it is drawn in a vertical position.

In general, the marine aspect is weakly represented in Northern rock art. This is surprising considering that Norway has almost half of Europe’s total coastline, and coastal settlements and exploitation of marine resources have played important roles from the first human immigrants arrived in the Early Mesolithic through to the present day. One reason may be that marine animals live under water and people do not normally observe them alive. However, dead specimens were familiar, and the animals in question were caught and eaten regularly. This may indicate that the models for the fish depicted in Northern rock art normally were not alive. It should, however, come as no surprise that most marine animals depicted are porpoises, which frequently jump into the air and thus can be observed as lively and playful animals. Most representations of cetaceans seem to show these animals while they are jumping above the water.

The whale images vary considerably in size. At Bardal I, the length of the only whale known on this panel is around 6 m (Gjessing 1936). The smallest examples are around 20 cm long, for instance at Reppen (Sognnes 1981b). Occasionally, small whales are found within a larger one like in Figure 24. Some of these images might represent a mother and her new or unborn calf, for instance at Reppen and Rødsand.

Most images depicting fish are found in northern and central Norway. Two large images at Hommelvik (Sognnes 1994) appear to show halibuts. Of particular interest is a school of twelve flounders or halibuts at Selset (Gjessing 1936). These fish (Figure 23) seem to be swimming towards a common point above the panel, away from the sea (Sognnes 2006). Here, we apparently are dealing with a deliberate composition.

Birds More than one hundred images depicting birds are known in the study area (Table I). Most of these are, however, found at just two sites, in particular at Hammer (Bakka 1988), where they occur together with whales, boats and elk. Only birds are found at Horjem. Virtually all birds are contoured, but some have internal geometric patterns and a few have a silhouette neck and head. Feet and wings are normally not shown; apparently the birds

Images depicting seals are rare. In the fjord districts, these animals are rare and difficult to observe. Normally only their snout is visible above the water. This is not the case at birthing sites, which, however, are normally located on the coast, where few rock art sites are known. More


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway remarkable regarding looks and sounds. Ducks, swans and geese (Anatidae), cormorants (Phalacrocoracidae), auks Alcidae, willow grouse/black grouse (Tetraonidae), herons (Ardea cinerea) and cranes (Grus grus) were identified. Again, the Alta record deviates from what is found elsewhere in Norway. Most birds there are drawn as silhouettes and the majority seem to depict cormorants (Helskog 2012a). The internal line patterns mostly consist of parallel, vertical lines, sometimes together with a small, centrally placed oval. These lines do not seem to depict internal organs. However, a large bird at Lånke (Sognnes 1983) has a narrow, curved line leading from the beak to the rectum. Attached to this line are four small ovals, which seemingly represent some of the bird’s vital internal organs (Figure 25).

Figure 24. Whale at Hammer VII in Steinkjer (after Bakka 1988).

Non-existent animals Some net-like motifs, occasionally placed together with zoomorphs, are found at Ausevik in Flora, Sogn and Fjordane (Hagen 1970). These net-like designs are sometimes so dominant that the zoomorphs virtually disappear. They may have been created as a series of superimpositions, but this seems not to be the case; the animals appear to be deliberately hidden behind nets. At Hammer in Steinkjer, however, two whales, one bird and one bear are superimposed on each other (Bakka 1988, Plate IV). Each individual image more or less disappears within a palimpsest of lines where weathering today has made the whale and the bear look like parts of one and the same animal. At Lånke (Sognnes 1983), there is little doubt that we are dealing with a composite, imaginary animal made up of the front of a whale which is directly linked to the front leg of a cervid. This or these images seem not to have been completed.

Figure 25. Bird with intestines at Lånke in Stjørdal, NordTrøndelag (after Sognnes 1983).

Most zoomorphs, whether or not they can be identified at the species level, seem to depict real animals, that is, species from the fauna known to Stone Age foragers in northern Scandinavia. The whale-and-cervid image at Lånke (perhaps also the Hammer bear-and-whale) indicates, however, that this was not always the case. Some zoomorphs from Rødsand support this suggestion. Figure 26 shows one of these images, which has the body, head and limbs of a dog-like creature, but at the same time two long, slightly twisted horns, which are not known from any species in the Scandinavian fauna, present or ancient.

Figure 26. Imaginary animal at Rødsand in Averøy, Møre and Romsdal (after Sognnes 1996).

depicted were floating in the water. However, at Hammer some images show protrusions from the back, which may represent wings.

Anthropomorphs It has been demonstrated (Watson 2012) that some universal ways of drawing humans exist, either as sticklines, silhouettes, or outlined images. In addition, incomplete images are common, as are sexual characteristics. Within the study area, the number of images depicting anthropomorphs is limited, yet these three major ways of drawing humans can be identified. Stick-line humans are found at Sylte, Surnadal (Kleiva 1999) and Rein, Rissa

Based on available tracings, a test was conducted in which ornithologists at the NTNU Museum in Trondheim tried to identify the species depicted. Around 60 images were identified at this level. The general impression was that most images look like a mixture between geese and swans. Geese are the easier catch, while swans are more 38


Figure 27. Skiers and anthropomorphs from A: Bøla in Steinkjer; B: Bardal in Steinkjer; C: Lånke in Stjørdal; D: Alta, Finnmark; E: Zalavruga, northern Russia (after Gjessing 1936; Savvateeyev 1977; Sognnes 1983; 2007 and Helskog 1988).

Gaustad 1976). Similar images frequently occur in the Southern tradition, although not as frequently in central Norway as in the Bohuslän/Østfold area. They occur at Hammer on panels with Southern carvings (e.g. Hammer III) as well as on panels dominated by Northern motifs (e.g. Hammer XV). The age and cultural context of these motifs are therefore questionable.

human and a boat on Rødøya. This is due to the extremely rare examples of such combinations in the study area. Symbolic human representations in the shape of short vertical lines on boats are frequent in the Southern Scandinavian tradition, and some distinct humans are standing in boats. These humans are, however, drawn with legs, which the Rødøya image does not have. To me, it looks like a later addition to the boat image. At Evenhus, one anthropomorph is placed in a boat, but the way this image is drawn is so special that it may be a later addition. Probably these humans were added during the Bronze Age. Five short vertical lines are found on a boat (Figure 30A) at Holte (Sognnes 1981b). Finally, there is an image at Vasstrand where two people carrying spears are standing in a boat (Lindgaard 2009).

Outlined images occur, too, most of which are shown in profile. The larger ones are around one and a half metres tall. Some images belonging to this class are, however, drawn en face, for instance at Vistnesdalen I. Another example is found at Evenhus V, but this image has no limbs and may picture an idol rather than a human being. Most examples are found at Bardal (Figure 27B), but a phallic anthropomorph with a head resembling that of a bird is found at Lånke I (Figure 27C). The latest discovery comes from Bøla IV. This image is remarkable in that the human appears to be standing on a short ski and to be holding a large rod in its hand (Figure 27A). This, together with some smaller images (Figure 27D-E) from Alta (Helskog 1988, 60) and the River Vyg in Russian Karelia (e.g. Savvateyev 1977, Janik et al. 2007), should, as mentioned above, lead to a reconsideration of the two images from Rødøya, which Gjessing (1936, 9) identified as skiers.

Footprints, or rather imprints of shoe soles, which represent a way of symbolically marking the presence of humans, are found at Hammer (Bakka 1988) and Vistnesdalen (Sognnes 1989). This motif is common in the Southern tradition, being especially frequent in central Norway (Sognnes 2001). Most researchers see them, when they occur together with Northern images, as representing influences from the Southern tradition, but Bakka (1988, 24), referring to footprints in Stone Age contexts in Russian Karelia, argued that the Hammer footprints could also be part of the Northern repertoire. However, on the panel in question, a boat of late Southern Scandinavian type is found, too, which demonstrates that at least two phases are represented on this panel.

Anthropomorphs with silhouette heads, slim bodies and limbs are known from Alta (Helskog 2012a). A fourth class, which as far as I know is not represented in Norway but is known from Sweden (Hallström 1960) and Finland (Lahelma 2008), comprises small images with triangular bodies and heads presented en face. The example nearest to central Norway is found at Flatruet in Åre, Jämtland, Sweden, across the border from Sør-Trøndelag. Many anthropomorphs in Alta are placed in boats, yet I question the authenticity of the combination of a possible

Sexual symbols (?) Some anthropomorphs are phallic males, for instance the ones at Bardal and Lånke, where two of the largest anthropomorphs are found (Figure 27B-C). The skier at Bøla, which was drawn in the same way, apparently has


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway Returning to central Norway, we find an isolated penislike image at Lånke (Figure 28A). At Sylte, a small cupule between the legs of a stick-line anthropomorph might be identified as a vulva. Another anthropomorph on this panel has a short line (actually a prolongation of the body line), which may mark a penis. In general, vulvas seem not to have been marked, but some triangular designs found might be identified as pubic triangles (Figure 28D-E). The paintings at Honnhammar (Figure 28BC) have the most probable vulvas, with short vertical lines in the lower part. A similar line is found in a triangle at Bøla (Figure 28G), but this image lacks the upper horizontal line. At Hammer (Figure 28F), a nearly triangular image has an interior cupule.

Figure 28. Possible sexual symbols. A: Lånke in Stjørdal BC: Honnhammaren in Tingvoll, D: Rødsand in Averøy, E: Strand in Osen, F: Hammer in Steinkjer, G: Bøla in Steinkjer. B and C are paintings (after Sognnes 1983; 1996b; 2011 and Bakka 1988).

Boats and other man-made objects The initial peopling of the Norwegian coast could not have taken place without boats, yet no remains of these early boats have been found. Boats are, however, depicted in Northern rock art and clusters of boat images are found at Trondheimsfjord, especially at Evenhus (Gjessing 1936) and Hammer (Bakka and Gaustad 1975; Bakka 1988). Most of these images seem to depict one particular boat type. Two examples are shown in Figure 18A-B, and Figure 29 shows some more examples. The images in the upper row are from Hammer, those in the lower row from Evenhus. These images demonstrate that, although boats belonging to this type are drawn in different ways, they all have a rectangular hull with two vertical prows reaching just above the hull. The stem normally reaches higher than the stern. In the upper end, most prows curve outwards. The stem frequently resembles a bird’s head, while the stern may resemble its tail. At Evenhus, the gunwale may even be shaped like a bird’s back (Sognnes 1996b). These details distinguish the boats from central Norway from those at Nämforsen and Alta, where the top of the stem frequently is shaped like an elk’s head (Hallström 1960; Helskog 1985; 1988; 2012a).

Figure 29. Northern boat images. A-C: Hammer in Steinkjer, D-F: Evenhus in Frosta (after Gjessing 1936 and Bakka 1988).

Another type of boat so far seems to be unrecognised and has hardly been referred to in the literature, probably because images showing it are very rare. The ratio between length and height indicates that the images in question may represent small boats, which were constructed differently from the type presented above. The most distinct example is found at Holte I (Figure 30A). It has a curved stem and a vertical stern (Sognnes 1981b). A single-line version of this type is apparently present at Hommelvik (Figure 30B).

Figure 30. Another boat type? A: Holte in Levanger, B: Hommelvik in Malvik, C: Ekeberg, Oslo, D: Tennes, Troms, E: Gåshopen, Finnmark (after Gjessing 1932; Engelstad 1934; Simonsen 1958 and Sognnes 1981).

no marking of the male sex organ, but this may be due to a fissure crossing the panel where the penis would have been drawn. Sexual symbols represented by pubic triangles are common in European Palaeolithic cave art (see, however, Bahn (1986) for a critical view on these images). Similar symbols exist in Northern rock art, but are so rare they have so far almost not figured in the debate. Bakka (1973) claimed to have identified vulvas at Vingen, but the gender issue has played a minor role even at that site, although Mandt (1998) discussed engendered zoomorphic images at Vingen on a general level.

This boat type seems to be depicted on a stone from Gåshopen, Finnmark, too (Figure 30E). The Gåshopen image differs from all other boat images in northern Norway, and Simonsen (1958, 51) believed it was influenced by the Southern Scandinavian tradition or perhaps Russian Karelia (at that time, the Alta carvings had not been discovered). The anthropomorphs on the Gåshopen boat, however, have no good parallels in the Southern Scandinavian tradition and I find it probable that this image actually belongs to the Northern tradition as a parallel to the Hommelvik image. 40

Classifications A two-lined boat from Tennes, Troms (Figure 30D) may represent this boat type, too. Images are found at Ekeberg, Oslo, and Skogerveien, Buskerud (Engelstad 1934) that have been classified as possible birds. Their bodies are, however, shaped like semi-circles with a horizontal line forming the bird’s ‘back’ (Figure 30C). They lack the ‘naturalistic’ shaped back that characterises virtually all other bird images in Norway and I prefer to identify them as depictions of boats of the same type as those at Holte and Tennes. However, they seem to have stem ends shaped like a bird’s head, which corresponds to the main boat type in central Norway. These images may be compared to boat images found at Stornorrfors in Västerbotten, Sweden, some of which are symmetrical but have no elongated stem or stern (Ramqvist et al. 1985). Two anthropomorphs are found at Skavberg, Troms, (Simonsen 1958), one of which holds an object resembling a tennis racket in one hand (Figure 31A). This may be interpreted as a drum with an attached handle. Stölting (1991), however, demonstrated that the anthropomorph and ’drum’ were not connected. The Sami noajde or shaman used a drum while entering a trance, but no existing Sami drums are shafted (this will be discussed in chapter eight). In central Norway, some rock carvings are found that might be interpreted as similar drums (Sognnes 1999a, 60). They consist of a ‘handle’, which ends in a round or triangular frame (Figure 31B-C) and are found at Bogge (Gjessing 1936) and Rødsand respectively (Sognnes 1996). When these images are compared with similar looking images in southern Europe, they might, however, be identified as (bronze) mirrors (Ling and Uhnér 2015). If so, we should start rethinking the dating of the panels in question.

Figure 31. Possible shaman drums from A: Skavberg, Troms, B: Bogge in Nesset, C: Rødsand in Averøy (after Gjessing 1936, Simonsen 1958, Sognnes 1996).

Geometric designs The simplest of all geometric images, the cupule or cupmark, is extremely rare in Northern rock art, hardly ever being used even to mark an animal’s eye. There are, however, some exceptions. At Holte I, small cupules frequently fill parts of the trunks of some small ‘stylised’ cervids (Møllenhus 1968b). On a smaller scale, this is also the case at Bardal III (Gjessing 1936).

Figure 32. Selection of framed geometric designs from A: Vistnesdalen in Vevelstad. B: Sylte in Surnadal, C: Bardal in Steinkjer, D: Strand in Osen, E: Holte in Levanger, F: Berg, Verdal (after Gjessing 1936, Møllenhus 1968b, Sognnes 1989; 2008).

lines of the better preserved rectangles are macroscopically compared with the much stronger weathering of the zoomorphs, one gets the impression that there must be a temporal gap between these two classes of designs. Tassel-like short lines have been added to the bottom line of some of the Bardal designs (Figure 32C), too. It is of interest then to note that rectangular designs with tassellike parallel lines are found on Southern Scandinavian panels at Leirfall, Stjørdal (Marstrander and Sognnes 1999) and on decorated grave slabs (see above).

In addition to cupules, many different geometric designs are present. Rectangular or sub-rectangular frames surround many of these designs, and the frames may have series of short, tassel-like lines added on one or more sides. A selection of these designs is in Figure 32. Normally, these images are drawn separately, but two examples are found at Berg, which are superimposed on a large elk. In this case, the geometric designs clearly are the later ones, as demonstrated by several straight lines placed relative to the contour line of the animal.

Framed images with tassel-like fringes, frequently with internal line filling, occur in different shapes at other sites, too, for instance as a triangle at Sylte, Surnadal (Figure 32B) and a square with an inner, inverted triangle at Vistnesdalen, Vevelstad (Figure 32A) (Sognnes 1989). The frame seems to be incomplete in an image from Holte, Levanger (Figure 32E) (Møllenhus 1968b). At

The largest number of geometric designs is found at Bardal I. Some small, rectangular designs seem to be relatively well preserved, while clusters of zigzags and crossing lines are incomplete. Gjessing (1936, 132-133) grouped all these images together with the zoomorphs in the Stone Age phase of this panel. However, when the 41

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway Berg (Figure 32F) (Sognnes 2008b), the internal line pattern, as mentioned above, partly consists of lines belonging to an older elk. Other line patterns occur, too, like at Strand (Figure 32D) (Gjessing 1936). At Rødsand, Averøy, some similar non-framed curved lines exist (Sognnes 1996). Lozenges, for instance at Bardal (Gjessing 1936) and zigzags at Rødsand (Sognnes 1996a) are, however, more common.

sifications would have had any relevance for Stone Age people. The main purpose of our classifications seems to be to gain control over the temporal dimension as a means to date images and panels. Moreover, most classifications are based on morphology, the shape of the images, or, rather, the perception of the shape by individual researchers. In Norway, catalogues of archaeological finds stored at regional museums have been published since 1860 and artefacts have been studied for more than one and a half centuries. Yet, descriptions and definitions of types are actually rare. In general, previously published drawings or photographs were referred to. When an artefact was catalogued, it was described as more or less similar to an already known artefact (or rock carving or painting), the basic reference work being the atlas of Norwegian prehistoric artefacts (O. Rygh 1885). With this atlas at hand, there was little need for further definitions when typology as a sorting method was introduced in the following decades. This use of images in artefact studies emphasises the visual components of material culture in comparative archaeology.

Hagen (1970) used the occurrence of spirals and concentric rings at Ausevik, Sogn and Fjordane, as an argument for dating the site to the Bronze Age. However, Bakka (1973) and Walderhaug (1998) claimed that these images were made during the Neolithic, together with the zoomorphs, which dominate the site. Yet I find it difficult to accept that all the Ausevik carvings a priori belong to just one phase. Without further verification, this cannot be used as an argument against alternative dates for these images. Rings are present at Evenhus and also at Søbstad and Honnhammaren, where some mazelike line patterns are found, too (Gjessing 1936). A unique, painted, cross-like image is found at Honnhammaren (Sognnes 1995a). Zigzags apparently occur in both rock art traditions. This motif was engraved on slate slabs in southern Scandinavia already in the Neolithic (Kaul 1993), and is also found on decorated grave slabs from the Mjeltehaugen mound (Linge 2007) and at the open-air rock art site at Leirfall in Stjørdal (Marstrander and Sognnes 1999). Northern sites where this design occurs include Bardal, Søbstad and Honnhammaren.

Style played an important role in rock art studies worldwide during most of the twentieth century, but lately the relevance of this concept has been questioned (e.g. Lorblanchet and Bahn 1993; Bednarik 1995; 2009; Rosenfeld and Smith 1998). This debate tends to focus on whether style can or cannot be used to date rock art, but inherent in this is a disbelief in the style concept as such. However, the concept is still being used and it is still claimed that style is a valuable tool in rock art studies (e.g. Guy 2000; Otte and Remacle 2000; Züchner 2003; Muzzolini 2006; Pettit et al. 2009).

Classifying rock art During the early twentieth century, the rapidly growing number of Northern rock art sites made it necessary to sort the material into groups or classes. The sorting into two genres or traditions was no longer satisfactory; the material had to be divided into smaller, more operational entities. Since this rock art primarily consisted of representational images, it was reasonable to search for relevant theory, methods and a terminology based on aesthetic criteria developed within the discipline of art history. Shetelig (1925a, 96) did not state this explicitly, but he clearly saw Northern rock art as images. Based on these aesthetic criteria, he claimed that the Bøla reindeer was the best example of what he called ‘primitive nature art’ known from Scandinavia (Shetelig 1922, 129).

When we question the relevance of Western thinking about aesthetics or rock art, we must also question the relevance of sorting the rock art into aesthetically based styles, which is the case for Northern rock art. Problems related to the use of style are also associated with visual perception. Perception problems related to ethnocentric parameters lie outside the scope of this discussion, which focuses on perception problems on an individual level. Some people identify a style quite easily, while others apparently do not recognise the style at all. This may be due to inadequate definitions, but it may also result from misunderstandings or lack of knowledge about existing definitions. It has been argued that the term type can substitute for style (Francis 2001), but this would not make the problem go away. Like styles, types frequently are poorly defined and described.

So far, traits, attributes and varieties, etc. used to classify Northern rock art have been intuitively identified by only a few scholars. In general, the resulting entities were superficially described and hardly ever defined, which created problems for later scholars who tried to base their own work on the already established ‘styles’ (Helskog 1989).

In Scandinavian archaeology, typology has been used as the main classificatory method for more than a century, but not without difficulties. The Swedish archaeologist Nils Åberg (1929) claimed that the typological method was what made archaeology into a science (Wissenschaft), but at the same time he claimed that typology could not be taught because not everybody was capable of learning the method. This is a paradox; if a scientific method cannot be taught, can it really be scientific?

New discoveries broadened the variety of images and there are good reasons to ask whether the early twentieth century classifications are relevant for today’s research. We should, however, also ask whether our clas42

Classifications In a way, Åberg’s statement was correct. Scandinavian archaeologists were trained in typological practice through learning by doing, and, for instance, in Norwegian archaeology at that time, as stated above, hardly any types were verbally defined. The basic classificatory question was whether an artefact was so similar to an already known specimen that it could be classified as belonging to the same type, or not. In this process, intuition and perception played important roles.

originality or originality tamed by rules. From the seventeenth century on, it was used in art history as a classification term. It was, however, transformed by Winckelmann in the late nineteenth century into a hermeneutical instrument which could serve new historical interpretations of varying aesthetic experiences, becoming a keyword for bridging visual perception and historical insights (Sauerländer 1983, 259). This new classification system was based on singling out chronological or local peculiarities (Sauerländer 1983, 263). This way of thinking clearly influenced Norwegian rock art scholars during most of the twentieth century.

Typology has, however, been taught in university courses and, as claimed by others, it can be learned (e.g. Malmer 1963; Klejn 1982; Adams and Adams 1991). The situation is similar for styles. Egil Bakka, who was an experienced specialist on Iron Age Germanic decorative styles on metalwork as well as on Northern rock art, claimed that styles are available only to those who have the flair for it (author’s notes from a lecture at the University of Bergen in 1972). Experience and a trained eye may still be the best tools for identifying styles, yet it is claimed that it is possible to create objective and understandable descriptions of a certain style (Appelaníz 2003; Züchner 2003). Like typology, styles apparently can be learned.

This short survey demonstrates that we are not dealing with a straightforward relationship between styles and types. Francis (2001) seemed to consider them as more or less synonymous, while Bakka (1973) saw them as being part of a hierarchical relationship, styles representing the upper level. Malmer (1981, 88), in his study of Scandinavian rock art, however, did not touch upon this question. He primarily looked at the quadrupeds according to how the trunks were drawn, sorting them into different types depending on whether they were contoured, had internal line patterns, were drawn as silhouettes, or had single-line bodies.

Style has, however, proved to be a difficult concept in rock art studies because of the strong subjectivism involved in most definitions and, especially, when it comes to identifying the actual style of a certain image. We find that different scholars do not share the same criteria in their classifications, which is amply exemplified by the debate on the Foz Côa rock carvings in Portugal (e.g. Rosenfeld and Smith 1997; Züchner 2003).

Malmer (1981), Mikkelsen (1977a) and to some extent Bakka (1973) tried to break out of the aesthetic constraint. They wanted to treat all images on equal terms, corresponding to the way they treated other archaeological material. The Shetelig/Gjessing sequence was questioned in the 1970s and -80s, and Hagen (1990, 59) found that the terms ‘naturalistic’, ‘monumental’ or ‘Arctic’ could not be used to characterise the large range of images known today. Helskog (1988, 96) sorted the Alta material into four (later six) periods, finding that the zoomorphs varied between ‘naturalistic’ and highly ‘schematic’ in all phases.

The style concept has many meanings (e.g. Conkey and Hastorf 1990). This is the case in rock art studies, too. Globally, regional differences in the usage of this concept can be identified. Franklin (2001) discussed its usage in North America and the European Palaeolithic research traditions. In Norway, the concept of rock art styles has been used in its art historical meaning parallel to the practice in France, that is, as stylistic evolution versus the culture historical styles in North America (Whitley 2005, 47). Early twentieth century Scandinavian scholars (Shetelig 1922; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938) were strongly influenced by their French colleagues specialising in Palaeolithic cave art, focusing on stylistic evolution. This is most evident in Hallström’s work. He classified virtually all images according to styles, indirectly describing the stylistic biographies of each panel under study.

Again, we are dealing with the problem of perception. Some characteristics are easier to identify than others (Stebergløkken 2016). Some images are large, some are small, some lines are easy to identify, others are hardly visible, and some have contoured trunks and legs while others have different line patterns inside the trunks. These are the basic characteristics used at the beginning of the twentieth century to sort the Northern rock art into different styles. Later generations of scholars learned to perceive and study the record from this point of view, no matter how many new images were discovered. However, as shown above, some scholars declared their dissatisfaction with this way of seeing the art (Mikkelsen 1977a, b; Malmer 1981; Helskog 1989; Sognnes 1994), arguing for a revision in our approaches towards this record.

Half a century ago, the German philosopher Hans Georg Gadamer (1965, 466) claimed that ‘[t]he notion of style is one of the undiscussed, self-evident concepts upon which our historical consciousness is based’. Twenty years later, Willibald Sauerländer stated that this was no longer in concordance with current thinking. He emphasised that ‘style’ was first used as a system for classification, dominated by norms, prescripts and interdictions in rhetoric and literature, and was later transferred into art history (Sauerländer 1983, 254-255). From the middle of the eighteenth century, style begun to be understood as ruled

Style as tacit knowledge Åberg’s claim that typology cannot be taught and Bakka’s corresponding statement about accessing styles, or not, may seem arrogant, describing archaeological classification and sorting as a ludicrous endeavour. I would claim that both were wrong, yet I see some sense in their 43

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway statements. The problems with styles as well as types are, as stated above, related to visual perception, to the ability of individual researchers to see, observe, recognise and describe different images and patterns.

An intuitive process starts spontaneously; it cannot be imposed. The process is difficult to describe and, since it is based on personal experiences, it cannot be replicated. Rejecting styles and types because they are based on intuition is, therefore, too hasty. Intuition represents an unconscious process of knowledge, but this process has played an important role in the creation of much knowledge. Adams and Adams (1981, 40) claimed that there is a close relationship between intuition and rationality, stating that there is no sharp distinction between scientific thinking and other kinds of thinking. Ideas that are intuitively constructed can be transformed into objects that can be critically analysed and compared with known conceptions (Birgerstam 2000, 61, 65). The main problem in the relationship between intuition and rationality seems to be lack of ability, or will, to combine these two kinds of knowledge.

For most people, it is not difficult to identify a cluster of lines as representing a drawing of a quadruped, even at the species level, whether it is an elk or a reindeer. It may be more difficult to identify and recognise the style; how the image was drawn. This difficulty, at least in part, may be the result of a lack of proper definitions and/or descriptions of the styles involved. We grasp styles and types intuitively, but two persons rarely see the material in the same way. Reaching inter-subjective consistency may, therefore, become a problem (Adams and Adams 1991, 56). You have to learn about a certain style before you see it. We may, however, ask whether some people lack the ability to see styles or identify the styles in question. As Adams and Adams (1991, 59) wrote, ‘some people have a better aptitude for type-learning than will others, just as some people have a more natural facility for languages’. Therefore, people who cannot see or are unable to recognise a style should not claim that this style, which is recognised by others, does not exist.

The creative process of knowledge is both intuitive and rational; we are dealing with two complementary kinds of knowledge that are part of the same process. Rationality depends on intuition (Birgerstam 2000, 96-98). Kuhn (1996, 191-192) emphasised the existence of common models and intuition in the research communities in which scholars belong. Within these communities, a limited number of formulated rules for problem solving exist; yet, problem solving functions fairly well. Students are trained to become researchers; they learn to solve problems following methods that are acceptable within their community, even though there is no simple way of exactly studying or defining the content of the accepted methods (Molander 1996, 202).

Malmer (1963) argued in favour of scientifically valid archaeological typologies, and the Russian scholar Leo Klejn (1982) wrote a profound analysis of different kinds of typologies. Adams and Adams (1991) followed up this work, emphasising the theoretical aspects and definitions of typologies. However, their book contains hardly any references to studies published in other languages than English. Consequently, the works of the Swedish scholar Montelius (e.g. 1900), which played an important role for the development of Scandinavian and European archaeological typology (Gräslund 1987), are ignored.

The training of archaeologists, who represent the major group of researchers studying rock art (at least in northern Europe), focused for decades on practical tasks ranging from collecting new data during excavations to sorting and further studying the excavated material. For most of the twentieth century, this training in Norway took place at the university museums in Oslo and to some extent Bergen. The students learned the trade through practical transfer of knowledge, as tacit knowledge (Molander 1996, 143; Schön 1983). Not until the early 1960s did the study become more theoretical, but practical work still plays an important role, especially in the curriculum at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, where there is a strong link between theory and practice.

Rock art styles and types have not been subject to similar critique, probably because of the aesthetic, nonmeasurable criteria involved. As stated above, most artefact classifications in Norwegian archaeology were traditionally based on images. The quality of these classifications has improved with the increase of relevant comparative material, but systematic classifications based on measurements and well-defined morphological traits are relatively recent (e.g. Helskog et al. 1976; Malmer 1981). Perhaps the concept of ‘style’ should be put aside and replaced by a more adequate concept. It cannot, however, be substituted by ‘type’ if Bakka was right in seeing these two terms as representing different levels of abstraction.

Intuition is not disregarded by science; many scientific insights have started as flashes of intuition. Adams and Adams (1991, 40-41) stated that classifications are not inherently either scientific or non-scientific. They are tools that must be present before many kinds of scientific endeavour can be carried out. In order to serve scientific purposes, types must be described more precisely and differently from a vernacular classification, to which most rock art types and styles still seem to belong. The differences between these two kinds of classifications are in degree, not in kind. They further emphasised the complexity of type learning, during which labels, identity and meaning of types and styles must be learned independently

Bakka’s statement mirrors the way archaeologists in Norway were trained until the 1960s, as part of a master/apprentice relationship; learning by doing. To a large extent, this training was based on the students’ intuition under the guidance of experienced museum curators. Intuition as a working method in rock art studies has, however, been strongly criticised (e.g. Bednarik 2007). It is argued that it stands in opposition to the rational and analytical thinking that has dominated Western academia. 44

Classifications because they are not wholly implicit in the others. Labels are easiest to learn, being mnemonic, like our initial learning of words in natural languages. The learning of identities, however, is a continuous process of revision. The meaning of a type or style may change, too (Adams and Adams 1991, 59). Styles in Northern rock art Since the discovery of the first Northern rock art sites more than a century ago, emphasis has been put on the exceptionally large size and ‘naturalistic’ way in which some of these images were drawn. Following Adams and Adams (1991, 43), these images presented themselves stylistically as intuitive gestalts. As mentioned above, Shetelig (1925b, 14) used the concept of ‘primitive nature art’ as the starting point for his classification. He believed that Early Stone Age artists tried to make their drawings resemble live animals, and he saw the Franco-Cantabrian polychrome cave paintings depicting Pleistocene fauna as an ‘ideal nature art’. Shetelig (1922, 129) realised that the quality of these images varied, but found that the aesthetically better ones ‘show a lifelike characteristic of the shape of the animal, a lively and striking naturalism, which we cannot imagine being more perfect, although the technique is the simplest contour drawing’ (author’s translation).

Figure 33. Gjessing’s (1936) style groups in central Norway, with later adjustments.

added the paintings at Vasstrand and Honnhammaren. Style III was represented at Bardal, Homnes and Bogge, and the paintings at Varghiet and Gjølga, along with the anthropomorphs in the Solsem cave, were added to these carvings. The individual readers were left to grasp the styles and possible variations and had to search through the many plates of photographs and tracings of the panels to make up their own mind. Based on Gjessing’s descriptions and tracings, I have tried to visualise his sequence a couple of times (Sognnes 1994b; 1998). In these diagrams, I also presented tentative dates for each style represented based on modern dates of the periods to which the styles were attributed. Being aware of possible problems associated with this sequence, I found that it was most probably correct for the Trondheimsfjord area since the sites on which Gjessing based his style sequence are located just a few kilometres apart in this area.

Debating style is not the main purpose of this work, but since style has played such an important role in the study of Northern rock art, it is necessary to discuss the concept further. Shetelig (1922, 129-131) sketched an evolutionary sequence which quickly came to dominate Norwegian rock art research. He was fully aware that regional groups existed, but believed that new discoveries would prove these groups redundant. This did not happen, but the idea of a unilineal stylistic development prevailed. The regional groups were considered to be late and to represent a diversity of stylistic variations near the end of the time when Northern rock art was made. Gjessing (1936, 168) further developed this sequence, sorting the record from central Norway into three chronologically separated style groups. He focused on short verbal descriptions, telling his readers at which sites each style was represented, but not specifically illustrating them. He left it up to his readers to find this out. This functioned because his monograph contained tracings and photographs of each panel. However, this is not the case in this work and I therefore present one image belonging to each style group (with some additions) in Figure 33. Gjessing’s description of the styles (Gjessing actually used the term style groups) in central Norway is as follows (author’s translation):

In addition to these three styles, Gjessing (1932) had previously described a fourth style found in northern Norway. Images belonging to this style were only known from this region and were morphologically similar to the central Norwegian style I images but were made by grinding or polishing the outlines of the animals. This style will be referred to here as style 0. Simonsen (1974) identified yet another style in northern Norway, which is represented in central Norway, too (Figure 33, IV). Cervids drawn in this style have trunks drawn only as a horizontal line; normally this is a single line, but double lines do occur. The fact that many similarly constructed images are present at Southern tradition sites in the study area (Sognnes 2001b) indicates that this style may be the later one. Bakka (1975) and Hagen (1976) claimed that the existence of internal lines in the trunk represented a chronological marker. Two images therefore represent style II, which is divided here into IIA and IIB.

I. Naturalistic carvings, the animals generally were drawn in natural size II. Less naturalism, the animals often have an early division into body parts III. Full schematisation

In his Nordland group, Hallström included ‘animals of three degrees of size: natural size, below, and above natural size’. The last mentioned group, the group confined to Nordland, he claimed formed the initial nucleus in the distribution of rock art in Scandinavia. Geographically

Style I he found to be represented at Bøla, Bardal, Strand, and Bogge. Style II was represented at Rødøya, Evenhus, Selset and probably Hammer and Bogge. To these were 45

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway separated from this group are images in natural and smaller than natural size only. This group differs from the solely Nordland group in many ways regarding ‘size, technique, extension, etc.’. The peripheral distribution of this group indicates that it is the younger of these two groups. A third group has a much wider distribution and is ‘characterised by a schematic artistic conception’ (Hallström 1938, 111).

ceived foreign impulses. Furthermore, in some areas the making of rock carvings may have lasted longer than in other areas, and impulses may reach a certain area from two or more centres, which Hallström (1938, 527) believed had happened for eastern Norway. Bakka (1973; 1975; Ramstad 2000, 52), who primarily studied the Northern rock art in western Norway, especially at Vingen, linked this material to the material from northern and central Norway. He sorted the ‘naturalistic’ images into three stages. The Nordland stage (1) consisted of large, polished/ground images and was found between the Arctic Circle and the Ofoten region in the northern part of the county of Nordland. The Forselv/Bardal stage (2) consisted of large, contoured, naturalistic, pecked or pounded images. Maglemosian ornaments were introduced during this stage, as were boats and anthropomorphs. This stage was found between Ofoten and Romsdal. The Hammer/Hell stage (3) was characterised by the ‘line of life’ motif; simple internal line patterns in relatively ‘naturalistic’ images. The images were neither schematic nor stylised. Bakka found this stage between the Arctic Circle and Hardanger in Hordaland, western Norway.

However, Engelstad (1934, 107) noticed that only a limited number of the ‘naturalistic’ rock carvings in Scandinavia really are naturalistic. These images he saw in opposition to ‘schematic’ or ‘stylised’ images and claimed that these two concepts represented each end of a continuum. Helskog (1989, 91) questioned this linear way of thinking, finding that most images contain elements of both ‘naturalism’ and ‘schematism’ at the same time (as Engelstad did, too, cf. below). Helskog further emphasised the lack of definitions in this debate. In particular, he found ‘naturalism’ difficult to define because cognition and the act of depicting nature are subjective and individual. We may see variations on several levels, but do these reflect the way prehistoric people understood the world, or are they products of our own modern, culturally dependent expectations (Helskog 1989, 89)?

Hallström (1938) considered the rock art panels to be agglomerations of single images drawn in particular styles. In most cases, he found that several styles were represented on one panel and therefore was able to write the biographies of these panels. His work developed slowly; each site was described before it was compared with those discussed earlier. Unfortunately, Hallström presented no overall final synthesis, claiming that this still was premature. His value-laden arguments were based on aesthetic criteria and he frequently discussed what he believed was the intention of the artists as well as their skills.

The evolutionary model, which Hallström and Gjessing argued in favour of, was in concordance with the diffusionist thinking in the early twentieth century Scandinavian archaeology (Helliksen 1996). It differs, however, in one important respect from the general model followed by Scandinavian researchers in that the innovation area was supposed to be located in northern Norway. Virtually all other innovations were claimed to have reached Scandinavia from the south following the ex oriente lux paradigm. However, as mentioned above, the origin of the later Northern rock art as claimed by some researchers (e.g. Shetelig 1922; Gjessing 1936) might be found in the east, that is, in present-day Russia.

Gjessing’s style sequence apparently worked well, but researchers in recent decades have questioned his way of thinking. This criticism may be relevant and well founded, yet I would argue that the content of the style concept has not been fully explored. The exploration of styles in Norwegian rock art research stopped at the rather cursory level it reached almost a century ago. The tentative sketches originally presented were hardly questioned or discussed, yet they reached axiomatic status and have acted as ‘black boxes’ (Latour 1987) in the Norwegian rock art discourse.

Engelstad (1934, 94) discussed the Northern rock art from an art historical point of view, pursuing two lines. First, he followed Shetelig in the search for ‘naturalism’ as opposed to ‘stylisation’, looking for ‘naturalistic’ traits in the images discussed. Second, he followed Kühn’s (e.g. 1925) division between sensorical and imaginative art. Engelstad found many stylistic variations, which he saw as representing an advanced art historical level. In the meeting between ‘sensoric’ and ‘imaginative’ thinking he found that artists belonging to the ‘imaginative’ school were capable of drawing naturalistically and that their apparent nativism was due to their own volition and not a result of a lack of necessary skills (Engelstad 1934, 96-97).

For his style III, Simonsen (1974) operated with three parallel regional substyles, in practice following Shetelig (1922). These substyles appear to have been intuitively grasped and are vaguely defined, being based on appearance and non-appearance of a few striking attributes. Hagen (1976, 49-56), too, emphasised the existence of regional traditions, attributing them to local cultural groups. He grouped carvings found between Trondheim and Narvik together as a Northern Naturalistic Tradition. In addition, he described an East Norwegian Tradition dominated by stylised animals with internal trunk decoration, and parallel to this he described a West Norwegian Tradition

Hallström (1938, 483) disputed this conclusion. He found the postulated mixture of ‘naturalism’ and ‘schematisation’ strange; yet this mixture, he observed, had parallels in other parts of Scandinavia (Hallström 1938, 496). He argued that in a region as large as Scandinavia certain ‘definite centres of varying concentration and age’ existed from which impulses were spread and which first re46

Classifications containing schematic animals with hatched lines inside the trunk. Central Norway seems, according to Hagen (1990), to represent a special contact zone, in which all traditions are represented. I will return to the classification of Northern rock art in central Norway later, but will here look further into three relatively recent classification systems (Bakka 1973; Mikkelsen 1977; Malmer 1981) from a methodological point of view. These systems differ from older classifications, and from each other. Bakka’s system for Vingen is presented as Figure 34. None of the supposed early, large, and outlined images are represented at Vingen, but Bakka identified two types belonging to the ‘naturalistic’ tradition. The Hammaren type, which he claimed to be the oldest, has one front leg and one hind leg, both drawn with a single line, an angle Figure 34. Bakka’s (1973) types at Vingen, Sogn and Fjordane; names of types are added between neck and back, good proportions, sprawling ears and have the flair for it can intuitively grasp a style there is no occasionally antlers. The second naturalistic type, the need for a definition. However, I find it difficult to identiHardbakken type, resembles the Hammaren type but imfy a clear distinction between types and styles in the way ages belonging to this type are characterised by four legs Bakka used these concepts. and the animals have less naturalistic proportions, the transition between neck and back is less angular, the anMy reading of Bakka’s style-and-type sequence raises gle between ears or antlers is narrower, and finely dequestions regarding both variants and attributes chosen. signed antlers are rare. The internal line patterns are more His classification was primarily based on the number of varied and the trunk may be filled with oblique lines legs, but also on ears and antlers, plus internal line pat(Bakka 1973, 162). terns. Yet, for some animals, the design of the internal line pattern seems to be the main argument for his clasThe later stage at Vingen shows a move towards stylisasification. The design of these patterns probably action away from nature, with emphasis on lines and incounts for his aesthetic evaluation of the Brattbakken ternal patterns. The Brattbakken type has gently curved carvings. neck and belly lines, often shaped like an S. The ears are parallel and frequently vertical. Many animals have an open muzzle and the internal body patterns are comIf we start with how the carvings were drawn, I would plex. Bakka found that the lines were exceptionally well intuitively look at the trunk, which forms the main part of made and that some of the images belonging to this type the animal. We see that the principle for drawing the had high artistic qualities. Animals belonging to the Eltrunk was used for all four types and alternative ways of va type, which Bakka considered to be the youngest, drawing the animals are represented in all the types, too. have evenly curved back and belly lines. These lines go Attributes that Bakka saw as being decisive for his classifrom head to rump, with an angle between head and fication, I regard as secondary. The same basic way of neck. The ears are parallel and often point backwards. drawing the trunks, together with the neck and head, are The body patterns are simpler than in the Brattbakken represented in all four types. As I see it, the four types type; examples of silhouette or hatched trunks are found consist of ‘schematic’ animals, although the Hammaren (Bakka 1973, 164). and Hardbakken types contain some animals that appear to be more ‘naturalistic’, but this is not really the case Bakka sorted the Vingen carvings into styles and types, except for some of the antlers. My perception and intuibut described only the types. His lack of descriptions or tion tell me that an alternative classification system based definitions of the styles makes it difficult to fully comon other variants and attributes could easily be constructprehend his classification system. In some ways, this may ed. This is a common situation. People using or evaluatbe the result of his way of seeing styles; if those who ing an existing typology frequently lack the precognition 47

The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway of why particular variables were taken into special consideration or not (Adams and Adams 1981, 51; Dunnel 1971, 139-140).

Many more varieties have been found since he devised his classification (e.g. Møllenhus 1968b; Ramqvist et al. 1985; Helskog 1988). It is difficult to use Malmer’s system, partly because it was supposed to comprise all zoomorphs, whether quadrupeds, birds or marine animals. Another problem is that Malmer used at the most four main attributes. Particularly for the quadrupeds, this number should be higher (as it also should for boats). This becomes evident when Mikkelsen’s and Malmer’s classification systems are compared. A third problem is that his choice of body outline versus internal line pattern and silhouette trunks as his primary attributes group quadrupeds and birds together. In addition, species identifications are used at different levels. This is, as I see it, the main flaw with Malmer’s classification of the zoomorphs. It would, for instance, probably have been more useful if he had classified terrestrial and marine animals separately from each other and from birds.

Mikkelsen (1977a) studied images depicting cervids in eastern Norway. These animals were divided into a set of body parts supplemented by other attributes like internal lines, etc. He created matrixes based on the presence and non-presence of 21 attributes. Mikkelsen selected these attributes based on stylistic criteria, that is, on nonanatomic attributes (Mikkelsen 1977a, 174). The record came from nine sites, four of which are found near ancient coastlines while five are located in the hinterland, beside rivers in areas that were not submerged during the early Holocene. He found that the cervids at the coastal sites contained the greatest variety of attributes. To these attributes, Mikkelsen (1977a, 176-177) added size. He did not, however, summarise these stylistic attributes into styles. On the contrary, he deliberately chose to ignore the subjective methods of his predecessors, focusing on typological elements that could be registered quantitatively (Mikkelsen 1977a, 173).

If we compare the works of Bakka, Mikkelsen and Malmer, we find that Bakka focused on the overall impression of the images, while Mikkelsen and Malmer divided the images into segments. Recognising that the zoomorphic images consist of a set of elements put together, they in reality deconstructed the images, but in different ways. While Mikkelsen’s system included all recognisable elements, Malmer (1981, 88-89) focused on four more general traits, the way the body was drawn (A-D), the presence of antlers and/or ears (I-XI), the presence of legs (0-4), and animal species (a-c). Surprisingly, birds, snakes and aquatic animals were not included in this category, but in the body category.

Mikkelsen (1977b) registered that the way tracings were reproduced in publications, the images frequently being presented as narrow, even lines, may influence our perception of the styles involved. This clearly is correct, but is of little consequence for the Northern styles hitherto presented. The ways the lines are drawn, narrow or wide, etc., were not included in the descriptions of the styles presented by Shetelig (1922), Gjessing (1936), Hallström (1938) or Simonsen (1974).

It is interesting to note that Bakka, Malmer and Mikkelsen, who worked in the 1970s, preferred to use the term type rather than style as their basic classificatory entity, although Bakka and Mikkelsen still found styles and stylistic criteria to be of interest. I agree with Mikkelsen that stylistic attributes might be identified for zoomorphs as well as for boats. When these attributes are identified, it is possible to go further towards stylistic analyses based on criteria that differ from those defined in the 1930s.

The Swedish archaeologist Mats P. Malmer (1981) created a classification system he thought was valid for all rock art in Scandinavia. The system for zoomorphs included both Northern and Southern Scandinavian images. He sorted the material into types and subtypes according to variations in the execution technique together with other details. His system was declensional, meaning that the symbols ‘retain their significance in whatever order or combination they appear’ (Malmer 1981, 4). Malmer sorted the selected elements into four groups, each being named by a combination of capital and small letters together with Latin and Arabic numbers. However, the system shows little consistency for the zoomorphs, too many different animals being treated together. Capital Latin letters describe how quadrupeds were drawn, but were also used to signify other kinds of animals represented (birds, snakes and aquatic animals). Latin numbers signify the presence of an ear and/or antler, Arabic numbers the presence and number of legs, while small Latin letters give further information about the species depicted. Malmer’s work may also be seen as a kind of deconstruction of the images, but he focused on a limited number of attributes.

In sum, like Mikkelsen, I miss a focus on how the lines forming the images actually were drawn. To some extent, this was included in Marstrander’s study of the Southern tradition boat images in Østfold, eastern Norway, where he found that some boat types included images drawn in two different styles, which he referred to as the ‘simple’ and ‘rich’ styles (Marstrander 1963). Marstrander here sees the relationship between styles and types from an opposite perspective to the one presented by Bakka. Bakka’s styles are divided into types, while Marstrander’s types are divided into styles! Mikkelsen in reality comes close to Marstrander’s way of thinking. In my earlier study of the Southern tradition rock art in Stjørdal, Nord-Trøndelag (Sognnes 1987; 2001), I faced the same problem sorting boat images into types defined by type-characterising elements, but I saw that the images could be further sorted by means of style-characterising elements, which I, however, did not

Malmer’s classification system demonstrates the great variety found among the zoomorphs. This variety is partly caused by the different animal species depicted, but also the many different ways of drawing these animals. 48

Classifications do. 1 Returning to Bakka’s system, seen from this perspective we may find that several styles are represented in each of his types.

unique to his Confined Nordland Style, and he saw this trait as calling to mind Palaeolithic cave art. However, a similar carving made by pecking or pounding is found at Stykket and this posture is in reality more frequent in the Southern Scandinavian tradition in central Norway where it is represented by small carvings depicting horses (Sognnes 2001a). Gjessing (1936) and Hallström (1938) may be right in claiming that the polished carvings in general are livelier than similar images made by pecking, but this liveliness is not due to stronger naturalism but because they depict animals in motion.

Kaul (1998; 2004) studied boat images on South Scandinavian bronzes, in particular razors. These images depict only one boat type, but could be sorted into a series of styles depending on the curvature of the lines. Compared with Bakka’s work, the style and type relationship here, too, is turned upside down. From representing a higher level of abstraction as metatypes, style here is used to identify subtypes.

At the other end of the postulated style sequence we find some small images that appear to follow different schemata in each region. This is the reason why Simonsen (1974) operated with three parallel substyles under his style III. Simonsen’s style IV comprises the most schematised animals, with trunks drawn only as single lines, but often with four legs. These stick-line images had scarcely been recognised before and are normally not included in the discourse. They are, however, represented in all major Norwegian rock art regions. Most examples in the present study area are found at Bogge (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938) and Holte (Møllenhus 1968b). One reason why these images have been ignored is probably their scarcity, but most of them were discovered after Gjessing’s (1936) and Hallström’s (1938) major works were published.

This demonstrates that Scandinavian archaeologists have dealt with styles in rock art on at least two levels. Identifying different boat types may be compared with the identification of animal species, in this case cervids. We can identify a number of subclasses of images depicting these animals, depending on the ways the images were drawn and the ways they are associated with stylistic traits. As will be demonstrated in the following chapters, it is possible to identify some preferred ways to draw cervids, as well as birds and cetaceans. At the same time, we can identify a number of variations in the way each body part was drawn. Rethinking styles? In my further discussion, I, like Shetelig (1922), start with the Bøla reindeer. Although the lower part of the foreleg is missing, this image represents the most apparent gestalt type (Adams and Adams 1991). It is drawn in full size, being about 1.8 m long. We find no twisted perspective; only one foreleg, one hind leg, one ear and one branch of the antler are shown. The proportions of the animal are fairly accurate, as if it was traced from a photograph. As stated above, Shetelig (1922, 129) saw this animal as the best example of a ‘primitive nature art’ in Norway. The animal is drawn as a still-life picture of a reindeer with one continuous contour line following the outline of the animal’s trunk and legs, head and antler.

The beginning and end of the Shetelig/Gjessing sequence apparently are well defined, but the stages in between are now more blurred than those researchers, and Hallström, anticipated. Only four panels with Northern carvings were known in central Norway a century ago, Bøla I, Bardal I and Hell in the Trondheimsfjord area and Bogge I in Romsdal, all with large images belonging to Gjessing’s style I. In addition, Bogge I contains a large number of style II and III images. Only two more style I panels have been found in this region during the twentieth century, Berg III (Ellingsen 1974; Sognnes 2008b) and Stykket (Sognnes 1981b). Rødsand, where the lower part of a large cervid is found, may be added to this list. At the same time, the number of style III panels has increased from one to three with discoveries at Bardal III (Gjessing 1936) and Holte I (Møllenhus 1968b). At Holte I, almost 100 images, mostly depicting cervids, were drawn in this style.

This image belongs to Gjessing’s style I and Hallström’s (1938) Extended Nordland Style; the ground/polished images in northern Nordland form Hallström’s Confined Nordland Style. I would claim that stylistic variations exist among the latter images, too, and that it is primarily the size and the execution technique used that groups these images together in one particular group as opposed to the Extended Nordland style images. Shown just as tracings, it is difficult to separate images belonging to each of these styles. Not all images belonging to the Confined Nordland Style are really as ‘naturalistic’ as earlier researchers claimed; some actually look like crude sketches with very few details of anatomy.

The vast majority of Northern rock art images known from central Norway thus belong to Gjessing’s style II. Except for the claim that internal line patterns represent an important chronological marker (Bakka 1975, 28; Hagen 1976, 165), this stage per se has hardly been studied, except in eastern Norway (Engelstad 1934; Mikkelsen 1977a) where most images were claimed to belong to this group. Bakka saw no problem fitting the types and styles he identified at Vingen into the Shetelig/Gjessing sequence, but he stressed that local and regional variations should be taken into consideration, too (Bakka 1973, 161). Mikkelsen (1977a) argued against Engelstad’s dating of the Northern rock art in eastern Norway, mostly because he believed that the sites in question were shore-

Hallström (1938, 110, 183) stressed that animals looking backwards, demonstrating an attitude retrospective, were In this study, I separated types of boat images from boat types; each boat type being drawn in different styles.



The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway northern Sweden. The animals are outlined, but fairly schematically drawn, the trunks being filled with different line patterns. The early carvings near Oslofjord are quite large. The East Karelian/East Fennoscandian Tradition mostly occurs in eastern Karelia and on the Kola Peninsula in Russia. However, it is also found at Nämforsen, northern Sweden, and in Alta. The trunks, which are quite naturalistic, are drawn as silhouettes, the animals being drawn in profile. These images are generally smaller than those attributed to the Nordland/Trøndelag style, but some large images exist. During the twentieth century, the number of Northern rock images known from central Norway has grown from decade to decade. However, the number of sites with carvings representing Gjessing’s style I has only grown from 3 to 5 since his book was published (1936) and sites where style III is represented from 2 to 3. The vast majority of new discoveries belong to style II, which Bakka (1973) and Hagen (1976) sorted into two substyles. This style group clearly should be examined in more detail, and this would probably reveal that it consists of several different styles. Conclusions This presentation of the material being studied here shows that we are dealing with complex material. Even though many people have tried to classify the images according to style, I believe most of the material has been dealt with in rather cursory ways. This has resulted in unsatisfactory definitions and descriptions of the styles in question. It should therefore come as no surprise that classification systems created intuitively emphasise different details and view the relationship between details and totality differently.

bound; in practice, he thus rejected the Shetelig/Gjessing sequence.

Figure 35 shows tracings of carvings representing the four styles claimed to exist in central Norway. Whether Gjessing’s style sequence is correct or not, these images give a fair overview of how images depicting cervids look like in this region. Two examples are, however, taken from western Norway. Figure 35A from Bøla (Sognnes 1981b) and Figure 35B from Berg (Sognnes 2008b) represent style I. Some line fragments are missing from both images, but these carvings were probably originally drawn with a single, continuous line forming the outline of the entire animal. Both are ‘naturalistic’, looking as if they are projections of real animals onto the rock Eastham 2005).

The Swedish archaeologist Christian Lindqvist (1994), who studied Northern rock art all over Scandinavia, identified three parallel regional traditions, which, however, were not identical with Simonsen’s substyles. Lindqvist’s Nordland/Trøndelag Tradition is represented in central and northern Norway as well as northern Sweden. The images belonging to this style are outlined, the earlier ones being quite large. Later, the animals became more schematic, and some lines were drawn inside the trunk. The South Norwegian Tradition is mostly represented in eastern and western Norway, but examples are also known from central Norway, Finnmark and Jämtland in

Not all outlined images show the same degree of ‘naturalism’. Two carvings from Hammer (Bakka 1988) exemplify this (Figure 35C-D). Such ‘semi-naturalistic’ images, which represent Gjessing’s style group II without internal lines, actually are rare. Figure 35E-F from Rykkje and Vangdal, respectively, are from the county of Hordaland, western Norway. They are included here because they are good examples of how different scholars experience images and styles. They are large, almost full-size and apparently are outlined (Bakka 1973), but according to my analyses they are not outlined. The internal lines are not merely decorations. They represent different body seg-

Figure 35. Cervids from central and west Norway sorted according to Gjessing’s and Simonsen’s style sequences. AB: style I, C-H: style II, I-J style III, K-L style IV.


Classifications ments which were drawn separately (chapter four). On the Rykkje carving (Figure 35E), the front leg, for instance, was ignored when the trunk was drawn.

not visit all Norwegian sites (around one-third of the sites known in the mid-1930s were discovered after he stopped doing fieldwork in Norway). Malmer (1981, 9) based his system on the published record known to him in 1972, but did not include sites in central Norway published in the 1960s (Møllenhus 1964; 1968a; 1968b).

These two carvings belong to style II, yet they give a ‘naturalistic’ appearance. This is not the case for Figure 35G from Bogge and Figure 35H from Evenhus, which are segmented, too, and likewise belong to style II. On both these images, the front leg was drawn separately and superimposed on the trunk segment. Figure 35H shows a ‘line of life’ added inside the trunk. Very few images in central Norway contain this ‘line of life’. We may suggest that the images shown as Figure 35C-D, E-F and GH represent three different stylistic sub-stages rather than the two sub-stages identified by Bakka (1973) and Hagen (1976).

The number of known images has grown considerably since the seminal works by Bøe (1932), Gjessing (1932; 1936), Engelstad (1934) and Hallström (1938) were published, and most of the new additions do not fall into the classification systems they presented, not even into Malmer’s system. Shetelig’s expectation that the regional variations would disappear as the corpus grew larger has not come true. On the contrary, regional and local variations are even more evident today. Descriptions and definitions that were acceptable in the early 1900s are not necessarily adequate today.

Figure 35I from Bogge and Figure 35J from Holte represent Gjessing’s style III. These carvings are segmented, too, but differ significantly from any style I or II images. The head and back were drawn using just one line (two parallel lines in 35J) to which the legs were attached. The most schematic images (Figure 35K-L) were, in principle, drawn in the same way, but the trunk only consists of a horizontal line. These images represent style IV here.

There are so many variations in size, drawing techniques, form and shape, etc. that I find it most unlikely that it is possible to create a single classification system for zoomorphs that is valid for all of Scandinavia. The regional approach that has dominated so far still seems to be relevant. We should, however, ask whether modern administrative borders are most relevant for future studies; we should perhaps think in new ways.

Most classification systems for Nordic rock art are based on regional studies: Bøe (1932) and Bakka (1973; 1975) in western Norway, Engelstad (1934) in eastern Norway, Gjessing (1936) in central Norway, Gjessing (1932) and Simonsen (1974) in northern Norway, and Hallström (1960) in northern Sweden. In principle, Malmer’s (1981) system is pan-Scandinavian, but it falls far short of covering the many different variants found among the cervids that dominate the record. These foci on regional studies are due to the regionalisation of Norwegian archaeology during the early 1870s when five regional museums became responsible for archaeological investigations and heritage management within their respective region.

Scholars studying Southern tradition rock art in Norway have been trained to think in compartments called styles. These styles are described and studied from an evolutionary perspective that is taken for granted. This perspective also puts the rock art into a hierarchical framework, the earlier images ranking at the top of an aesthetic hierarchy. This way of thinking is, however, questionable at several levels. First, are the stylistic entities described and defined properly? This may be the case for the full-scale or even larger, ‘naturalistic’ zoomorphs (Gjessing’s style I), but not for the other entities. For styles II and III, there are many different ways of drawing the images. Do these groups actually comprise several different styles?

Some scholars have tried to create classification systems that were considered valid for wide areas. Hallström’s (1938) system for Norway and Malmer’s (1981) and Lindqvist’s (1994) pan-Scandinavian systems have already been presented. Simonsen’s (1974) system was also supposed to cover all of Norway. Hallström (1938) did

Is Gjessing’s distinction between style I and the large Nordland images (style 0) relevant? Finally, do the styles belong to different periods or are they perhaps more or less contemporary?



Animals on rocks

(Helskog 2010) tried to bypass this tyranny of images by focusing on compositions and the micro- topography of the panels. To some extent, I agree with Helskog, but I have worked the other way round, from landscapes and topography to images, realising that the images so far have not been studied adequately. The purpose of these early studies was classification; sorting the record into operational entities in the same way as artefacts. To some extent, I follow up this tradition, but my primary focus is not on how the images appear, but on the work process, trying to find out how the images were constructed.

Although Northern rock art has been studied for more than a century, little work has been done on how the images were actually constructed. The focus has been on their appearance, on what they look like. We notice their size and the shape of their outline, etc. This has led to a tendency to think in dichotomies; the images are seen as either ‘naturalistic’ or ‘schematic’ but also large or small, and with or without internal line patterns, etc. Covariations can be identified for some of these dichotomies. Most large cervids are considered to be ‘naturalistic’ with no internal lines, while the smaller ones are ‘schematic’ and frequently contain internal lines (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938).

I started my work from the perspective of a landscape archaeologist, but found it necessary to focus on the images, as well. A particular episode in the Gauldal valley, Sør-Trøndelag, while investigating lines on a large boulder that strongly resembled the front part of an image of a cervid led to a change in my perception of these images. The lines in question turned out to be man-made, or more correctly, machine-made. A question was intuitively formulated: why was my first reaction to identify these lines as representing a prehistoric image of a cervid? Starting to look at how these images actually were drawn made me put more emphasis on deconstructing them.

Seen in retrospect, we find that Shetelig’s (1922; 1925b) early sorting of the zoomorphs into three major classes was based on a search for dichotomies. The subsequent growth of the record has led to the identification of additional variants and attributes, but has not brought alternative approaches to the study of the images. Most studies are still based on the overall impressions given by the material presented by Shetelig, Gjessing and Hallström. Techniques used to make the furrows, whether polishing/grinding, pecking or pounding, incision, or painting, were identified a century ago, but more analytical approaches were not introduced before the late twentieth century (Mikkelsen 1977a; Helskog 1989). In these studies, size was attributed little importance.

As demonstrated above, the Northern tradition rock art in central Norway is dominated by a limited number of motifs, above all cervids, but also cetaceans and to a lesser degree birds and fish (Table I). In general, these creatures are depicted as seen from the side. Compared with real animals, the depictions are simplified and stylised; the artists focused on certain elements that were considered to be characteristic for the species and families in question.

I have worked periodically on Northern rock art in central Norway for more than three decades, mostly focusing on the location of the sites in the landscape (e.g. Sognnes 1994; 2001a). During this work, I have noticed weaknesses in the work of my predecessors, as well as in my own early work regarding the dating of the styles claimed to exist. Because I have focused on the record from this particular region, which also formed the basis of Gjessing’s style-based sequence, I have argued that the likelihood that this sequence was correct was greater in this particular area. I have therefore conducted some preliminary studies in which I accepted this sequence, but at the same time showed that an alternative synchronic-oriented thinking is relevant (Sognnes 1994; 1998).

Deregowski (1995) and Dobrez and Dobrez (2013) discussed these preferences. They disagreed on details, but basically drew similar conclusions. Deregowski (1995, 4) stated that some views of an animal species are more typical than others. Dobrez and Dobrez (2013, 79) referred to these as salient features. One reason why this happens is the readiness of the perceptual system of an observer to comprehend such portrayals as showing animals when he or she focuses on features that strike him or her as characteristic when viewing the animal in question. For many animals, this means that they are drawn in a lateral view, but sometimes this leads to ‘distorted’ drawings that are partly viewed from the side and partly from above (Deregowski 1995, 4-5). When we focus on Northern tradition motifs, we find that most images are seen from the side. This is true for virtually all cervids and birds. For

Helskog (1989), who started studying the then recently discovered rock art in Alta, Finnmark, northern Norway, in the 1970s, soon found that strong focus on images, styles, etc. represented a straightjacket and he later


Drawing Animals

Figure 36. Geometric shapes preferred for drawings cervids. A and B from Bogge in Nesset, C from Vingen, Sogn and Fjordane (after Bøe 1932 and Gjessing 1936).

most cetaceans, however, the trunk is viewed from the side while the tail is seen from above (or below). Most fish are seen in a lateral view, but flatfish like flounders and halibut are seen from above. Some cervids are shown as if the drawing represents a line tracing the contour of the animal, like the Bøla reindeer. This is, however, not the case for the majority of the images in the study area.

paintings, as drawings that may be analysed further. In general, styles and typologies presented during most of the twentieth century were based on a limited number of the attributes that could have been used, representing general impressions rather than knowledge. The relevance of modern Western thinking about art and art development for these prehistoric images apparently was not questioned. The first generation of experts, Hallström, Shetelig and Gjessing, clearly were influenced by the modern evolution of art history; hence the sorting of the record into sequences of styles. Later rock art students learned how to think about rock art from these and other pioneering Western European scholars. Their classifications were based on what may be called ‘whole-first’ arguments. The whole, however, consists of parts, and an alternative thinking may be based on ‘parts-first’ arguments; on additive versus holistic thinking (Dobrez and Dobrez 2013, 81).

When we look in more detail at the carved and painted cervid images from Norway, we find that a few basic geometric bodies were preferred for drawing a large number of the images. This is most apparent for images whose trunk was drawn as a semi-circle (Figure 36A). These images are rare and mostly found at Ausevik, western Norway (Hagen 1970). They are, however, found in central Norway, too, at Bogge and Bardal (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938) as well as at Holte (Møllenhus 1968b). Other images have almost rectangular trunks. These seem to be common in eastern Norway (Engelstad 1934; Mikkelsen 1977), but are found at Bogge, too (Figure 36B). They have vertical legs combined with horizontal back and belly lines.

Changing this way of thinking has proved difficult. New generations of researchers have followed in the footsteps of their predecessors who apparently had solved all the basic classificatory problems; there was no need to search for alternatives.

The third major geometric body design represented is virtually identical to a half-moon crescent (Figure 36C). This way of constructing cervids is seen in coastal Norway from the southernmost panel at For-bergodden, VestAgder (Engelstad 1934), to Alta in Finnmark (Helskog 1988; 2012), but is particularly frequent at Vingen, western Norway (Bøe 1932; Bakka 1973; Lødøen and Mandt 2012). The characteristic front stature of the red deer is presented by drawing two basic lines forming the back + neck and belly + throat, respectively. This preliminary investigation shows that the makers of the Northern rock art followed a certain set of rules when drawing cervids. Some of these rules seem to be common to several regions, while others seem to be specific for one region only, sometimes even for a certain site. Further studies revealed, however, that although this is correct, the situation is in reality much more complicated.

Creating alternatives to this thinking requires a change in perception; we must be able to discard the thinking that has dominated studies of the Northern rock art for a century. We are trained to separate artificial from natural lines on a rock face, to identify certain motifs, etc., which means that we see what we are looking for. However, the more we study a panel, the more we may observe. Our perception of a panel and an image may change from visit to visit, partly depending on the light conditions, partly on what we have seen and experienced elsewhere, and sometimes we may see and recognise aspects that neither we nor anyone else have seen before. Deconstructing cervids Many images apparently are incomplete. Weathering processes are responsible for many such instances of apparent damage, but images are found that clearly were not meant to be complete. Most of these images show elk

I interpret this as a demonstration that the study of Northern rock art motifs and images is far from complete. In the following, I see these images, whether carvings or


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway heads, sometimes together with the neck and the front part of the trunk, for instance most of the painted zoomorphs at Honnhammar II (Sognnes 1995). These images were painted so close to each other that there was no room for complete animals unless they were superimposed on each other. However, incomplete images are found on large, well- preserved panels, too, for instance at Stykket (Figure 97), where the head and neck of a fullsize elk are drawn near two freestanding legs (Sognnes 1981b). If these parts belong to one and the same animal the complete image would be around 3.5 m long. Between the head and the legs, the glacially polished rock surface apparently is well preserved, which means that the trunk and upper parts of the legs were never carved. Furthermore, the head and legs are positioned relative to each other in an anatomically incorrect way that indicates that we are dealing with parts of two different animals.

Figure 37. Elk heads from Lånke in Stjørdal (A) and Holte in Levanger (B) (after Sognnes 1981; 1983).

carvings, found at Lånke (Figure 37A) and Holte (Figure 37B) respectively, only the heads and parts of the necks were drawn. The rock surfaces are well preserved, but the panels are too small for complete animals with trunks and limbs corresponding in size to the head.

In the following, I base my analyses on tracings, which means that I drop the third dimension of the real carvings. By doing this, I lose some information of course, but this is information that in general has not been collected. For many images, strong weathering may make it irrelevant to document depths and techniques; for instance at the recently discovered images at Bøla IV (Sognnes 2011) where the weathering appears macroscopically to be the same in the furrows as on the surrounding rock. Using the tracings means that I treat the images as drawings, focusing on the lines forming the shape, and any interior lines, of the images in question, identifying elements and attributes specific for each image. Starting with a more or less complete carving or painting, this means that I am deconstructing the image.

Starting the drawing process with the head would set the standard for the rest of the animal if the artist wanted to draw the animal with natural proportions. The back would be drawn next, followed by the rump. The legs would then be drawn before the drawing would be completed with the belly line. This would be the ideal sequence, but, as will be demonstrated below, most cervids were not drawn using this ideal model. Some images were drawn with one continuous line sequence, but many were drawn as a sequence of separate body segments merged into a complete image. This is the case for the three carvings shown in Figure 36. The body segments are sometimes superimposed on each other. For images with silhouette bodies, the silhouette part may be considered as one body segment although the artist probably started by drawing a faint contour line. Many carvings at Nämforsen in northern Sweden (Hallström 1960) and Alta in Finnmark (Helskog 1988; 2012) have trunks that are partly contoured and partly in-filled. In central Norway, no fully infilled carvings of zoomorphs are known, but what is left of the trunk of a large painted elk at Mølnargården is filled with red pigment (see Figure 108). However, some bird images have an in-filled neck and head.

A complete drawing can be seen as a combination of line segments, which meet at breaking points forming sharp or blunt angles. In theory, the whole image may be drawn as one continuous line without any breaking points, but for cervids this is most unlikely. However, some birds were actually drawn as a single-line segment, but this line has a breaking point at the end of the beak (see below). The first step in the deconstruction process is to identify these breaking points and thus the individual line segments.

Images exist where breaking points are difficult to identify. Some images apparently have no such points. This may be a result of how the images were actually drawn, but it may also be due to weathering, how the images were recorded, or the accuracy of the tracings, the appearance of which may have changed during the reduction process that, until a few decades ago, was done by hand by experienced illustrators who never saw the original carvings or paintings. Focusing on the breaking point does, however, help considerably when we are trying to understand how the images were drawn, also for images without such points. Later redesigning of the original images may also influence our analyses, but we are after all studying the images as they have survived until today. Most of my deconstruction work is based on tracings, but after visiting virtually all the sites and panels my experience is that the material is fairly well traced and is suitable for this purpose.

A single-line outlined image consists of a set of line segments drawn in a sequential order. An image drawn as one continuous line consists of one body segment only. Other images may have been drawn as series of body segments: head, neck, ears or antlers, trunk and legs. If we manage to identify the initial body segment, it should be possible to reconstruct the subsequent sequence when drawing the segments. These initial segments may have been drawn as a single line, but frequently they were constructed as a sequence of line segments. Hallström (1938, 385) observed that the artists drawing the ‘naturalistic’ images usually started from the top. To me, it seems that the head normally would be the first body segment to be drawn. The two carvings shown in Figure 37 may be seen as evidence for this. For these


Drawing Animals

Figure 38. Deconstructed images of cervids from central Norway. A: Berg in Verdal, B: Evenhus in Frosta, C: Bogge in Nesset, D: Bardal in Steinkjer. Breaking points, end points and crossing points are marked with dots and circles (originals after Gjessing 1936 and Sognnes 2008).

Today, hardly any large-scale zoomorphs in central Norway are complete. Fissures, cracks, exfoliation and other weathering processes have fragmented the lines, but some carvings are so well preserved that missing line fragments can be reconstructed.

with a letter. Where it is relevant, I have marked the points where line segments belonging to different body segments connect or cross each other, and also the ends of line segments where these occur. The lower parts of the legs of the Berg image are missing, but we can identify at least fourteen line segments, plus a cupule marking the animal’s eye. The elk’s head (a) together with the two ears (b-c) probably formed the initial body segment. The neck and back line segments (d-e) gave the length of the animal, while the height was given by drawing the throat and front line segments of the foreleg (f-g); then followed the rest of the foreleg (h). At the rump, a short tail (i) was marked before the hind leg (j-m) was drawn, and the carving was completed with the belly line (n). When the eye (o) was made cannot be established, but this probably happened either while the head segment was drawn or after the contour of the animal was completed. However, it should be noted that eyes were seldom marked.

The deconstruction method presented here may be compared to an archaeological excavation, going backwards from the recent situation with line segments and body segments analogous to soil strata. The segments are identified and, eventually, the drawing sequence can be reconstructed following the (suggested) same order as when the images were drawn. Four of the images presented in Figure 35 have been selected to demonstrate the deconstruction process. The other images in that figure will be briefly commented upon. In this part, I focus on carvings (Figure 38) that represent the three style groups identified by Gjessing. This visualises my thinking about analysing or deconstructing the images. The first carving presented is a large, naturalistically drawn elk from Berg (Figure 38A). Although it is incomplete today, the entire outline of this image was probably drawn as one continuous line. Each breaking point is marked with a black dot surrounded by a circle, which makes it easier to identify these points and hence each individual line segment; the segments are marked

This image represents the earlier stage in the Northern rock art sequences identified by Shetelig, Gjessing and Hallström. Hallström (1938, 385) claimed to identify a special method of picturing the animal bodies belonging to this stage in a ‘naturalistic’ way ‘with a smart, elegant drawing, in which at times everything of importance was


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway shown at once, also antler and legs, with one comprehensive outline’. In reality, the deconstruction of the Berg image represents this stage. According to Hallström (1938, 385), this drawing method sometimes failed and legs, antlers, fins, etc. were ‘stuck on’ after the trunk was drawn. However, this marks a distinctly different stage in the development of drawing animals in the Northern rock art tradition.

and belly. Ears were added and the anatomically correct hind leg was then added. Later, the strange, angular, foreleg was superimposed on the trunk. Finally, a vertical straight line was drawn through the head. This trait is also present on the heads shown in Figure 37. The outlines of the initial body segments of this and the Evenhus carving resemble Neolithic slate knives (chapter two). When we isolate these segments and turn them upside down, we find that they also resemble whale images familiar from the rock art in central Norway (Sognnes 2008b). The apparent naturalism found in this image is due to the way the head and neck were drawn.

A similar analysis of the Bøla reindeer (Figure 35A) would reveal more breaking points due to the complex antler and the still existing hoof on the hind leg. The ear of this image may have been drawn as a separate body segment. Whether this is correct is uncertain; the line below the ear is not marked on earlier tracings (Gjessing 1936; Hagen 1976), but Hallström (1908b, 72) mentions a vague line at the root of the ear, which he, however, believed was natural. This observation may be correct; the way it looks today may be the result of the repeated use of stones in recent times to polish the furrows to make them more visible. The head and antler, perhaps together with the ear, probably formed the initial body segment.

The Vangdal carving (Figure 35F) was not drawn as a continuous outline either, and is thus not contoured. Bakka (1973) claimed that this carving is stylistically similar to the Rykkje carving, but when these two images were drawn, the artists followed different procedures, the Vangdal carving being composed of five separately drawn body segments. The initial segment consists of the back, head and neck, to which the antler was added. The naturalistic impression given by this image is created by the way each body segment was drawn. The two leg segments were drawn before the trunk was completed, the image being finished by the belly line before a straight line through the head was finally added.

Figure 35C from Hammer is contoured too, but is less ‘naturalistic’ and has fewer line segments. In addition to the breaking points on the outline, we can identify points where lines belonging to different body segments connect, and also the end points of some lines. The contour line from the tail to the top of the foreleg seems to have been drawn as one line segment, which at the same time acted as the initial body segment. The ears were drawn as separate body segments, the lines of which meet the contour line close to each other. They may have been drawn immediately after the initial body segment, but may also be the last segments added. After the initial body segment was finished, the legs were added and, finally, the belly line completed the drawing of the animal. Figure 35D, also from Hammer, is drawn in a similar way, but the head, back and front part of the foreleg seem to have been drawn as one continuous line representing the initial body segment of this image, which, however, is less naturalistic than the Berg and Bøla images.

The third deconstructed example (Figure 38C) comes from Bogge (see also Figure 35I) and is drawn in a way that differs strongly from the examples presented so far. This carving has no initial body segment or, rather, the initial body segment was a single line. The artist(s) started by drawing a curved line (a) which marks the animal’s head and back from muzzle to tail. Two short lines marking the ears (b-c) were added at the highest point of this line. At the root of the neck, where the line becomes horizontal, two parallel, single-lined legs (d-e) were added and a similar pair of legs (f-g) was drawn at the rear end of the initial line segment. The legs vary in thickness, being thinner in their lower parts, indicating that they may originally have been shorter. The curved belly line (h) was added after the legs. The hoof lines (i-p) were probably later additions, too, as were the two lines marking the mouth (q-r). Due to the four legs with hooves, the number of connecting points is higher than in the carvings analysed above, but no lines cross each other. This rather simple, schematic carving depicting a quadruped is actually a quite complex drawing executed as many separate line segments.

This is also the case for Figure 35H from Evenhus, the deconstruction of which is presented here as Figure 38B. The initial line segment of this carving consists of the head, back and belly (a), forming the initial body segment, too. Unlike in the Berg carving, the artist(s) ignored the foreleg at this stage. The ears (d-e) were added to this line. The hind leg (b-c) and foreleg (f-i) were drawn afterwards, the foreleg being superimposed on the initial segment. Weathering makes it impossible to decide whether this was the case for the hind leg as well. A line (j) running from the mouth through the neck ends in an oval (k) in the lower part of the belly. On this image, we find not only breaking points on the outline, but points where lines cross each other, as well as end points at the ears and the front hoof.

The artist(s) followed a similar procedure when the image from Holte (Figure 35J) was drawn. The head and back line on this carving, however, is a double line. Two parallel, vertical lines marking the legs were added, one pair at the rear end, the other where the curve of the neck starts. Lines marking the ears and beard were added, the latter making it probable that the carving depicts an elk. A curved belly line was placed between the legs, and the interior of the trunk was filled with an intricate line pattern.

The artist(s) making the Rykkje carving (Figure 35E) followed a similar procedure, starting by drawing the main body segment, which consisted of the head, neck, back

The fourth deconstructed carving (D) is found at Bardal III [Lamtrøa] (Gjessing 1936). When making this carving,


Drawing Animals the artist(s) started with a straight, horizontal line (a). A vertical line was added at its left end, the lower part of which was formed as an oval (b). Probably this was a way of demonstrating that the animal had lowered its head, like the four reindeer at Hell (Figure 43). Two vertical, parallel lines marking the legs (d-g) were added near both ends of the horizontal line. All have slightly curved lower ends, which may mark the hooves. Like the Bogge carving, the belly is marked with a curved line (h), which makes the trunk look like a semi-circle. The drawing was completed with four vertical, parallel lines inside the trunk (i-l).

kinds. For Bardal, where two very different approaches to drawing cervids meet, I found it necessary to divide the drawing process into five steps. For some images, one or two steps may be missing, depending on the way they were drawn. Most images do not have any internal line pattern. Images from twelve sites have been analysed. These analyses are presented as Figures 39 to 48. The images are not on the same scale, but are fitted into standardised grids. They do not represent any particular classes, styles or types, but I have selected a sample of images from each site that are fairly representative for that site, which means that they should be considered as representative for all the images, too.

The artist(s) who drew the image reproduced as Figure 35K, also from Bogge, started with a single, curved line marking the head and back. Ears were added, as were four vertical lines marking the legs. A belly line was, however, not added. This is the case for Figure 35L from Holte, too. The drawing of such simple, single-lined zoomorphs was actually the standard formula for horse images in the Southern tradition (Sognnes 2001, 182).

The construction of the Bogge images (Figure 39A-F) shows greater variations than for any other site in central Norway. All the images have ears and/or antlers. In A, the initial body segment consists of the head, neck and back line, and the rump and the upper part of the back line of the hind leg as well as the front line of the foreleg also appear to be part of this segment. The ear and antler were drawn as separate segments. The drawing of the belly line completed the outline of this animal, which also has a vertical line crossing the neck.

The deconstruction analyses presented so far demonstrate that images representing Gjessing’s styles II and III fall into two main classes. The first contains images where the artists started by drawing a contoured head and neck. In the second class, the drawing process started with a straight or slightly curved line. These classes, however, do not correspond with Gjessing’s styles. An interesting observation based on these deconstructions is that the more ‘schematic’ a cervid image is, the more complex it is to draw.

The other images show no similarity with the image reproduced as Figure 39A; they were drawn according to different principles. In the case of the carving reproduced as Figure 39B, which, as indicated by breaking points in the lower part of the hind legs, probably has four singleline legs, the legs, the lines of which reach the back line, were completed before the belly line was drawn. This was probably the case for the hind legs, too. However, it appears that the curved belly line in the carving reproduced as Figure 39C was drawn before the legs were completed. Figure 39D indicates a different construction, with the belly line included in the initial body segment onto which the legs were added. The front leg is superimposed over the initial segment that resembles the contour of a half boat.

Constructing cervids So far, I have deconstructed four cervids and commented on some ‘similar’ images. These examples represent only a small part of the images known. Unfortunately, many images are too fragmentary for deconstruction. This is the case for most of the carvings on the large Bardal I panel, where several phases with Northern and Southern tradition carvings are present (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938: Sognnes 2008b). For the larger sites, the representativeness of the analysed images may be questioned; some variations are not included in the analyses. I started by analysing ten carvings at Evenhus, Hammer, Bogge, Bardal and Holte, comparing these with the Glösa site in Jämtland, Sweden (Sognnes 2010). However, few sites contain ten or more ‘complete’ cervids that can be analysed using this procedure. I therefore reduced the number of analysed carvings to five from each site. For some sites, only four images were found suitable for this analysis.

The image shown as Figure 39E was constructed in a significantly different way. The initial segment consisted of the head, neck and front leg(s) to which was added a narrow double-line trunk before the image was completed with two parallel, vertical lines forming the hind leg(s). Two parallel legs can only be seen from the front. This may be the case for this image and in that case also for the images shown as Figure 39B and C. The initial segment of the carving shown in Figure 39F was a single, curved line with the head part lifted above the rest of the line to mark the back of the animal. Legs were added to the initial line, drawn as two parallel lines attached to the back line at sharp angles, which gives the impression that the animal is moving. As mentioned above, the legs appear to have been elongated and hooves added later.

Due to the many variations represented at Bogge, six images from this site were analysed. In the following diagrams, the drawing process is represented by four main steps: 1) the initial body segment together with the ear(s) and antler that sometimes were drawn as part of the initial segment and sometimes as a separate segment, 2) legs, 3) other line segments marking the outline of the image (mostly the belly line), and 4) internal lines of different

The images from Rødsand presented in Figure 40 look strange, seemingly without any parallels in the study area and scarcely elsewhere in Scandinavia, too. Very few


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway breaking points appear to exist, which makes it difficult to identify separate body segments. This may, however, be due to weathering. If we look closer, we may find many of the same characteristic traits found in other images. The initial segments may have comprised the back, neck and belly. Figure 40C shows the tail included in this segment, while the tail in Figure 40A was drawn as a separate segment. In both images, the front leg was superimposed on the trunk. The animal depicted in Figure 40C apparently has horns, not an antler. This is most peculiar and horns like these are not known on any animal living in Norway. The initial segment shown in Figure 40D appears to have included the front line of the foreleg and the back line of the hind leg. The carving illustrated in Figure 40E appears to be unique in the Northern rock art of Scandinavia, the initial body segment consisting of a head and trunk drawn as a continuous contour line, implying the existence of two legs. The lower parts of the legs were added later, as were the tail and the ear. The uniqueness of this image may make us wonder whether it really is prehistoric. Most images depicting cervids at Honnhammaren (Figure 41) apparently are incomplete; others are difficult to deconstruct due to superimpositions. However, five are so complete that they can be analysed. Two of these are virtually identical although the one not shown here appears to be a rough copy of the one analysed here (Figure 41C). Linge (2014) recently discovered more paintings of quadrupeds, one of which is analysed here. It has four legs and short ears (Figure 41C). In principle, the initial body segment was drawn in the same way as that from Bogge shown as Figure 39E. It consists of a contoured head with neck and throat lines continuing downwards and ending as front legs with hooves. Here, we clearly are dealing with two legs seen from the front while the rest of the animal is seen from the side, the front part being drawn separately. Then the back and belly lines were drawn and the drawing was completed with the hind legs. The back line in Figure 42C is strongly curved and, together with the short legs, this makes the image resemble a turtle. Both images have the same short horizontal line between the lines marking the back and the back line on the hind leg. This may be a way of marking the tail.

Figure 39. Drawing sequences for cervids at Bogge in Nesset (originals after Gjessing 1936).

Figure 40. Drawing sequences for cervids at Rødsand, Averøy (originals after Sognnes 1996a; Kleiva 2006).

the legs were added, the trunk was completed with belly and rump lines. Near the rump is a longitudinal line inside the trunk. The image shown in Figure 41A also has an internal longitudinal line, and the two contoured legs appear to have been drawn before the belly line. The animal shown in Figure 41D was drawn in a distinctly different manner, but unfortunately the carving is now rather fragmentary. The initial body segment probably consisted of

In the animals illustrated in Figure 42A-B, the initial body segments consist of a line forming the head and back to which ears and antlers were added. The shape of the antler in A shows that a reindeer was pictured. Figure 42B has two large ears, which are drawn as silhouettes, as is the distinct ‘beard’ of an elk as well as the legs. Before


Drawing Animals marked. The image illustrated in Figure 42D is much smaller than the others and was drawn more roughly, with single-line ears. The lower part of the legs appears to have been drawn with a single line, too.

Figure 41. Drawing sequences for cervids at Honnhammaren in Tingvoll (originals after Gjessing 1936; Sognnes 1994a and Linge 2014).

Only four of the carvings at Hell were analysed, the others being too fragmentary. These carvings represented a problem for Gjessing, primarily because of the size of the larger images. He considered them to be full-scale ‘naturalistic’ images, comparable to the Bøla reindeer, but at the same time they contain internal line patterns. The smaller images, Gjessing said, were morphologically similar, but less ‘naturalistic’. This, however, apparently did not represent any problem. Placing emphasis on the size of the larger Hell carvings, Gjessing claimed that they represented a transition from style I to style II, having the size and contour line of style I but the internal line patterns characteristic of style II. Since small and large images were drawn in the same way, he considered all to be contemporary (Gjessing 1936, 165-168). Originally, Hallström (1908, 73) had no problems accepting the Hell carvings as contoured ‘naturalistic’ images. When evaluating the carvings, he emphasised the internal line patterns, which he referred to as ‘angular images’. He was, however, aware that these patterns could originate from the way the legs were drawn (Hallström 1908, 56). In his later work, Hallström (1938, 387) saw the Hell images as representing a transition from naturalism to conventionalism.

My analyses of the Hell carvings are presented as Figure 43. Figure 43A is incomplete due to weathering. Common to all the carvings is an initial body segment that comprises the head, ears, neck and back. They all have antlers. Figure 43B shows the most complete image. Here, the belly line apparently was also part of the initial body segment, but it was prolonged Figure 42. Drawing sequences for cervids at Stykket in Rissa (originals upwards to the back line. This is also the case after Sognnes 1983). for the image illustrated in Figure 40A, but the belly line must have been drawn after the front head, back and belly lines similar to one found at Evenhus (Figure 41D), but the curvature is more like that in many leg since it does not cross the leg lines. For all four imagcervids at Vingen. Some lines appear to cross the front es, the lines marking the legs were prolonged through the trunk until they reached the back line. Finally, the shaggy part of the trunk, and one may form the front leg. hair under the throat and some internal lines were added. Figure 42 shows the five complete images at Stykket. The images in Figure 42A, B and C may be classified as ‘naturalistic’ and were drawn with one continuous contour line where the back, head and neck together form the initial segments to which legs and, finally, a belly line were added. Figure 42A and B show that the ears were part of the initial segment, too, whereas those shown in Figure 42C were drawn separately. None of these images have internal line patterns, but eyes were marked by cupules and in one case (Figure 42A) a mouth and a nostril were

In retrospect, it is interesting to note that Hallström (1938, 385) analysed the large Hell carvings in a similar way. His conclusion was that the lines crossing the trunk were not later additions and that the drawing of these lines probably started from the back line. Bakka (1975, 28), too, realised that the internal lines were not merely decoration, and my analyses demonstrate that his observation was correct. The ‘zigzags’ or ‘angular motif’ in the trunk in Figure 43B consist of five oblique


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway line segments, one of which is the extension of the belly line. Three are parts of leg segments, two of the foreleg and one of the hind leg. The line that is not part of any leg segment was probably made at the end of the drawing process (or as a later addition), as were the mouth, the eye and the vertical line crossing the head. My conclusion is that the Hell carvings cannot be described as ‘naturalistic’ representations. They were drawn according to a formula that differs distinctly from, for instance, the Bøla reindeer and the Stykket images. Analyses of five carvings from Evenhus are presented in Figure 44. The initial segment of all these images consists of the head, neck and back line. In two instances (Figure 44A and B), the front line of the foreleg was included in this body segment, too, while this apparently was not the case in the image shown in Figure 45C, where the foreleg seems to have been drawn independently, parallel to the hind leg. Single lines were used to draw both legs. Figure 44D and E show that the forelegs were ignored at this stage. In both cases, the throat line leads directly into the belly line, and in Figure 44E this line is seen to continue as the front line of the hind leg, whereas the belly line in Figure 44D stops where it meets the hind leg. In the other images, the belly line seems to have been drawn after the foreleg.

Figure 43. Drawing sequences for cervids at Hell in Stjørdal (originals after Sognnes 1981).

Figure 44D and E shows that the forelegs were superimposed on the trunk, but, whereas the lines marking this leg in Figure 44D reached the back line, they merely crossed the belly line in Figure 45E. The image in Figure 44B is most peculiar. It has an interior horizontal line within the trunk, but this line continues downwards as the back line of the hind leg. The front line of this leg was drawn together with the belly line. It seems that this image was drawn in two separate steps, and the maker of the second step tried to correct an error Figure 44. Drawing sequences for cervids at Evenhus in Frosta (originals made during the first step. The original image after Gjessing 1936). may have been planned to be smaller, with the now central line being the original back line. However, this image may actually depict an with two parallel lines. A is an example of this manner of attempt to draw two elk together, a cow and a calf, so drawing. This double line forms the head and a line, perclose that they apparently shared legs. haps the spine, runs through the trunk. The head was higher than the horizontal part of the line(s) and the ears In Figure 44D, the trunk resembles a half boat (cf. Figure were placed on the highest point of this line. The legs 19). This is the case in Figure 45E, too, but here the out- were drawn as double curved lines, too. Single curved line continues from the belly into the front line of the hind lines marking the belly and the back of the trunk were leg. In isolation, we may find that the heads resemble bird then added. Before the image was finished, the two parts heads just as much as elk heads. Turned around, these of the trunk were filled with lines in the lower part and initial sequences (except for the leg part in Figure 44E) small cupules in the upper part. look like slate knives. The initial segments of the images shown in Figure 45B Most images at Holte (Figure 45) have a single line as and C were horizontal lines, but both images have heads their initial segment. Both straight and curved lines were drawn with double lines, and double vertical lines marked used, and occasionally this initial segment was drawn the legs. Whether this means that all four legs were drawn


Drawing Animals lined head above the horizontal line. The legs were drawn with two separate lines too, but this image had no belly line.

Figure 45. Drawing sequences for cervids at Holte in Levanger (originals after Møllenhus 1968b).

The images at Hammer (Figure 46) are contoured with the head and back lines as parts of the initial body segment. Figure 46A and B shows the front line of the foreleg as part of this segment, too. In Figure 46C, a breaking point in the contour line indicates that the front leg was drawn separately from the throat. This seems to be the case in Figure 46D, too. This image has single-lined legs and a surprisingly low belly line. In Figure 47E, the initial segment includes the belly line and looks more like a bird than an elk. The foreleg was drawn with a single line, while the hind leg was drawn with a double line. Figure 46A shows an elaborate line pattern in the front part surrounding an oval which, together with a curved line connecting it to the mouth, form a ‘line of life’. The impression we get from both Evenhus and Hammer is a high degree of standardisation focusing on ‘contoured’ images. Most images depicting quadrupeds at Bardal (Figure 47) unfortunately are too strongly weathered to be included in the analysis. However, some of the large-scale elk images at Bardal I can be used for this purpose and are supplemented with one smaller image from this panel and two of the small-scale images at Bardal III. The initial horizontal lines at this panel are presented as a separate stage.

The initial body segment shown in Figure 48C consisted of the head, neck and back. The antler was very schematic but, together with the shaggy hair under the throat, it indicates that this image depicts a reindeer. The front line of the foreleg reaches the back line. The upper parts of the legs were drawn with double lines that merge into one line in the lower part. The analysis shown as Figure 47D has already been presented (Figure 38D). Figure 47E, too, shows a horizontal line as the initial segment, Figure 46. Drawing sequences for cervids at Hammer in Steinkjer (originals after Bakka 1988). but the head was directly attached to this line. The rest of the animal was drawn in the same is uncertain. The image illustrated in Figure 45B had a way as in Figure 47D, but the feet ended in distinct curved belly line and a similar, but shorter, line above the hooves demonstrating that this image had four singlehorizontal line probably represents the hump marking the lined legs. The main difference between these two imagshoulder of the animal. Both the belly and the hump have es, however, is that the one in Figure 47E had a curved internal line patterns. The image shown in Figure 45C back line above the initial line. The body segment belacked a belly line, but had a hump on the back filled with tween these two lines was filled with small cupules. vertical lines. Like the Rødsand images, the cervids at Vistnesdalen The initial segment of the image in Figure 45D was (Figure 48) deviate distinctly from the images found slightly curved at the front end marking the head, which elsewhere in the study area, mostly because of their interwas drawn with one line only. A curved belly line was nal line patterns, but also due to the way they were drawn. placed between the legs and the trunk was filled with in- This, however, is not true for the small, contoured image ternal, parallel, curved lines. Figure 45E shows a two- (Figure 48A) whose initial segment apparently consisted


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway of the head, neck and back, to which the legs were added. The belly of this image was hardly marked. The artist who made the image shown as Figure 48C, however, basically followed a standard procedure, drawing an initial segment consisting of the rump, back, neck and head to which legs and belly line and, later, some internal lines were added. Similar internal lines are, however, not known from any other site. The image illustrated in Figure 48D apparently was drawn following the same procedure, but the head and antler were drawn separately, as was the hump on the back. The image shown in Figure 48B is most peculiar as the head was apparently drawn together with the internal line pattern. One of the antler branches also crosses the head. The line marking the back and the back line of the hind leg was added later, before that forming the throat together with the foreleg and belly line finally completed the drawing.

Figure 47. Drawing sequences for cervids at Bardal in Steinkjer (originals after Gjessing 1936).

Variations The diagrams presented above comprise analyses of 48 images from 10 sites, 6 from the Trondheimsfjord area, 3 from Romsdal/Nordmøre and 1 from Helgeland, which together cover around 18 per cent of the cervid images listed in Table I. Taking the many incomplete images into consideration, which reduces the number of images that can be analysed, I consider this sample to be fairly representative for central Norway. It includes all the complete cervids known today at Hell, Stykket and Vistnesdalen. The sample demonstrates the great variation that exists among the cervid images in central Figure 48. Drawing sequences for cervids at Vistnesdalen in Alstahaug Norway. Compared with the large sites at (originals after Sognnes 1989). Vingen, Nämforsen and Alta, we find surprisingly many different ways of drawing the cervids. Vingen shows a strikingly different pattern, with extreme focus on one basic way of Bogge, represented by Figures 39C and E, possibly B and drawing the animals (Bøe 1932; Mandt and Lødøen perhaps F as well, where the head and neck are seen from 2012). Some standardisation is found at most sites in the the side while the legs may be seen from the front; the study area, too, but at this level we find different ‘stand- hooves, however, are seen from the side. ards’ represented, for instance at Bogge, Honnhammaren and Vistnesdalen. Setting the individual images apart, we find that it is possible to identify two significantly different initial drawing There are, for instance, striking dissimilarities between sequences, both of which show some variations (Figure the two Honnhammaren paintings shown in Figure 41C 49). In the less frequent one, the artist(s) started by drawand all the other images. It is clearly the long, narrow ing a horizontal or slightly curved line, the length of trunk with its curved back that causes this impression. which corresponds to the length of the animal in question. However, the way the front parts of these images were No paintings drawn using this procedure are found in the drawn is more significant in my view. We may be dealing study area. However, two painted zoomorphs where the here with a kind of ‘twisted perspective’ with heads seen artist(s) started with a horizontal line are found in Monfrom the side while throats and legs are seen halfway sholet, a cave on Skåren Farm in Brønnøy, Nordland from the front. The only other images in the study area (Sognnes 1982), but these animals apparently were seen where a similar perspective can be identified are found at from above.


Drawing Animals drawn separately, the initial segment being formed by a single (sometimes a double) line. This line was either horizontal or slightly curved; the curved variant looking more like a ‘natural’ animal, exemplified here by C1, while C2 has a straight line initial segment. Normally, the head was directly attached to this line, but at Bardal III the head may be ‘hanging’ from the end of the line. Most images belonging to this variant have trunks shaped like a semicircle below the horizontal line, while some also have a ‘hump’ above this line. Distinct differences between the Holte and Bardal images can be identified. The artists who made these images probably shared some basic ideas, but the images indicate individual rather than collective preferences. The Bogge examples further support this hypothesis. A preliminary conclusion is that two main traditions for drawing on rocks existed in central Norway. However, the minor tradition, the single-line initial segment, is found on just a few panels. Most variants in this tradition are found at Holte. Variants of the major tradition are present at most larger Figure 49. Initial body segments used to draw cervids in central Norway. sites, among which Bogge holds a special position. Artists may have been experimenting at these sites, especially at Bogge where For the majority of images, the artist(s) started by draw- a surprisingly large number of rare images are found. ing the head and neck; sometimes the head only was Bogge thus stands out as something different, as a site not drawn, like at Holte and Lånke (Figure 37) where there dominated by mimicry but by innovation and experimenwas no room to draw complete animals, which was the tation. Figure 39E is most peculiar, but for a long time it case at Stykket, where a full-size elk could have been remained unrecognised, drowning among the other peculiarities at this site. It was not until the discovery of the drawn. Honnhammaren paintings (Figure 41C) that I became Contour drawings of the head and neck are parts of the aware of the significance of some of the details on this initial body segment in most images depicting cervids in image. central Norway, mostly combined with the line segment marking the back. This is exemplified by A1 in Figure 49. Yet this Bogge carving differs distinctly from the two In other images, the front line of the foreleg was added Honnhammar paintings, so much so that we may claim (A2). In a third variant (A3), the back line of the hind leg that these images were drawn in different styles. Howwas added, too. The basic idea behind these variants was ever, like the varying roughness and thickness of the to draw a complete picture of a cervid. Whether these lines observed by Mikkelsen (1977b), differences at this images were ‘naturalistic’ or ‘sub-naturalistic’, they had a level have no part in the definition of Northern rock art back, rump, neck, head, antler/ears, belly and legs placed styles hitherto presented. Perhaps we are here on the verge of identifying personal styles adopted by Stone where these body parts are supposed to be. Age artists. For some images, the artists decided to ignore the front leg as part of the overall contour, the leg being superim- Birds posed on the trunk closer to the completion of the image. B1 shows an example where the initial segment included Images showing cervids dominate the discussion, not due the belly line, while in B2 the front line of the hind leg to their great number alone but also because of their comapparently was added, too. For these images, the artists plex morphology compared with other zoomorphic imagpreferred to emphasise the stately chest of the cervids es included in the repertoire and because they were drawn in so many different ways. My treatment of how the other rather than imitate nature. major classes of zoomorphic images, birds and whales, For the second major way of drawing cervids, the artists were drawn, therefore, appears to be less thorough. I will, had no interest in drawing the animals as they look. however, in principle follow the same procedure as was They saw them as being composed of parts that could be used while deconstructing the cervids.


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway details. Cetaceans have flippers instead of feet and lack the distinct neck of cervids and birds. A painted whale is found at Honnhammar V; all other whale images known are carved. Figure 51 shows a sample of carvings found in central Norway. The largest and most ‘naturalistic’ carving, which is almost 7 m long and is found at Bardal I, is too fragmentary to be included here (see Gjessing 1936, Plate LVII). The artist(s) who made these images probably started by drawing the back line, followed by the belly line and ended with the tail. In the image from Reppen (Figure 51A), the head and trunk were drawn as a continuous line that starts and ends at the transition to the tail. The tail and dorsal fin were drawn as separate, contoured body segments, while the flippers were drawn as single, short lines. Three single-line flippers were added to the trunk of the whale from Evenhus (Figure 51B). On this image, the tail was drawn as part of the main body segment, while the dorsal fin and snout were drawn separately. From the mouth, a ‘line of life’ leads into the trunk and some perpendicular, rib-like lines are seen on the inner part of this line. Other images drawn like this are known from the Trondheimsfjord area, too. The image from Hammer (Figure 51C) is contoured, the whole whale being drawn as one body segment. The front of the whale is surprisingly steep, and this trait is also found in other whale images at Hammer and Evenhus.

Figure 50. Bird images from A: Lånke in Stjørdal, B: Horjem in Snåsa, C: Bøla in Steinkjer, D: Hammer in Steinkjer (originals after Sognnes 1983; 2007b and Bakka 1988).

Virtually all bird images known from the study area have a contour line, which may consist of between one and six line segments. Some birds have silhouette necks, and at Hammer a whole bird seems to be drawn like this. Legs are seldom shown, and possible wings are even rarer. At Hammer in particular (Bakka 1988), the interior of the bird images is filled with parallel lines. Four images of birds are presented in Figure 50. Most birds have a head and neck bent slightly forward, but some have vertical necks, like Figure 50A from Lånke. When we consider line segments and breaking points, we find that the artist(s) probably started by drawing the beak and continued with the line segment forming the top of the head and the long vertical neck. Then the line forming the back was made, followed by the bird’s lower part, leading back to the beak.

For these images, as for virtually all whale images in central Norway, the tail is drawn in a ‘twisted perspective’. This is, however, not the case for the whale from Strand (Figure 51D), one of the largest whale images in Norway. The tail appears to be missing, but it is actually drawn as seen from the side. The only breaking point in the contour curve is found at the end of the tail. The images depicting whales and fish have some elements in common. Fewer than 35 fish images are known in central Norway (Table I). Most of these are carved, but painted fish are seen on two panels at Honnhammaren (Gjessing 1936; Linge 2014) and can be identified as salmon. This is also the case at Teksdal. Flatfish, flounders and/or halibut, are found at several sites. The majority of the fish cannot be identified at the species level.

In the image from Horjem (Figure 50B), no breaking point can be identified at the transition from the neck to the body and it thus appears to have been drawn as two curving line segments with breaking points at the end of the beak and the tail. This image, however, contains details that normally are not present. Four short parallel lines mark the tail; the legs are marked, too. The bird from Bøla (Figure 50C) apparently was drawn with one continuous line without any breaking points except at the end of the beak. The bird from Hammer (Figure 50D) also shows the tail, but in this case the contour line encircles it. One leg is marked, as are two lines protruding from the back. The corners of the tail mark two breaking points in the contour line, dividing the bird into two halves, both of which are filled with parallel vertical lines.

Two large flatfish are found at Hommelvik (Sognnes 1994), and their size and shape suggest that they probably depict halibut. A school of 12 smaller images at Selset probably depict flounders (Gjessing 1936). These fish images have rhomboid decorations on their front, similar to many of the whale images (Figure 24), and a central, longitudinal line through the body as well. One of them has an additional line pattern covering both sides. These lines, however, seem to be later additions. Flounders are probably present at Vistnesdalen, too (Lund 1941; Sognnes 1989). Eight small images forming a school at Lånke (Sognnes 1983) cannot be identified at the species level.

Marine mammals and fish Like birds, most cetaceans and fish are easier to draw than cervids, mainly because their outlines contain fewer


Drawing Animals

Figure 51. Images representing cetaceans. A: Reppen in Fosnes, B: Evenhus in Frosta, C: Hammer in Steinkjer, D: Strand in Osen.

Most fish seem to have been drawn as three curved lines, two of which, representing the back and belly lines, respectively, meet at the mouth. The third line forms the end of the tail. Lines forming dorsal fins were occasionally added to these three lines.

carving was added. We may also view the two elk heads at Lånke and Holte (Figure 37) from this perspective. They are part of a small group of images, but represent a deliberate choice of motifs and panels. The artist(s) who made these heads had no intention of drawing a complete elk: the panels chosen gave no room for that.

Compositions and perspective Two or more images were drawn on most panels, but, in general, these images were apparently not part of recognisable compositions. Examples do exist, however, which might be interpreted as compositions, for instance small whales inside larger ones at Hammer and Rødsand and a small whale attached to a large one at Reppen. These combinations may depict a mother whale and her calf. We also find combinations between a whale and a boat at Vasstrand and a seal and a boat at Rødøya, which may be interpreted as hunting scenes. At Vasstrand, two persons carrying harpoons are apparently standing in the boat. The person in the Rødøya boat appears to be passive.

The question of whether compositions and scenes existed in the Northern rock art in Norway was ignored for a long time. Hallström focused on individual images, classifying each one stylistically. By doing this, he could have described the growth and change of each panel over time, demonstrating how it developed, etc. However, he stopped after classifying the images according to style. The discovery of the rock carvings in Alta (Helskog 1988; 2012) demonstrated the existence of composi-tions and scenes, at least there. It is, however, more difficult to identify scenes and even compositions in Northern rock art in central Norway. On the larger, complex panels like Bardal I, the reason for this may be successive additions of new images to the original ones. The original composition (if it ever existed) becomes increasingly difficult to identify.

I have tried to analyse some panels from this perspective: Bardal I (Sognnes 2008), Selset (Sognnes 2006) and Evenhus V (chapter six). While the whales at Hammer VI, Rødsand and Reppen may represent compositions at the image level, Bardal I and Evenhus V represent compositions at the panel level. We may even identify compositions at a site level, for instance at Bardal, where Bardal III is distinctly different from Bardal I. Bakka (1988) identified differences between panels located at two levels. He interpreted these differences as stylistic and, hence, chronological. They may, however, be contemporary, being deliberately composed differently from each other.

We may, however, identify compositions at several levels, even when only a single image is present. The small elk image on the bank of the river between the upper and lower Nykjønnan lakes at Finnli (Figure 63) should be seen as part of a natural composition, a small waterfall with its immediate surroundings to which a man-made


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway and reproduced by the artist. Another, perhaps more likely interpretation, is that these four images were drawn by different artists at different times. However, as soon as whale number two was added to the first one, they formed a deliberate composition. These and other possible compositions are located on one panel. We should, however, also be aware that carvings and paintings found on several panels located near each other may be part of larger compositions, in particular if these images illustrate ancient myths consisting of series of separate scenes. Hammer XIII-XV are, for instance, located on the same outcrop, and the low outcrops with Hammer V-VII are close together. Unfortunately, the areas immediately around these panels have neither been cleared nor investigated with this question in mind. Hallström (1938) saw the Honn-hammar II and VI-VII Figure 52. Superimposed elk at Bardal, Steinkjer, may represent a way of presenting panels as part of one site, to which a perspective-like image of an elk herd (original from Gjessing 1936). Honnhammar VIII could be added later. The situation here is similar to Possible compositions seem to be most common for images depicting fish. Fish images form small schools at the Hammer panels. The Bøla panels, too, might be seen both Selset and Lånke. The four fish at Honnhammar III as part of a larger composition. This will be discussed in form a diamond-shaped composition with one fish at each chapter eight. side of two central fish placed above each other (Figure 10). Likewise, the two large halibut at Hommelvik are Most Northern zoomorphs appear to be seen from the placed alongside each other. At Selset (Figure 23), 12 fish side. For cervids, normally one foreleg, one hind leg and are placed side by side on the steep front of a small rock one antler branch were drawn. However, both ears can outcrop, facing the sea and people approaching the panel. often be seen on elk images. This is probably due to the Among the many birds at Hammer, nine form a proces- capacity of this animal to move its ears independently. sion-like composition in the central part of the main Hammer V panel and another cluster was placed deliber- The discovery of the Palaeolithic paintings in the Chauvet ately at the southern end of this panel, superimposed on cave near Vallon-Pont-d’Arc in Ardèche, southern some earlier elk images (Bakka 1988, Plate IV). In addi- France, brought a new dimension into the question of tion, the row of birds above the Southern carvings at whether perspective was used in Palaeolithic cave art Hammer I clearly should be seen as a deliberate composi- (Chauvet et al. 1995; Clottes 2001). A series of rhinoceros painted one behind another, for instance, demonstrates tion. that we are not dealing here with random superimposiThe cluster of at least four elk at the southwest edge of tions, but with a true perspective. In open-air rock art, Bardal I must have been a deliberate composition, too images like these are rare, but one example may be found (actually this cluster may have contained one or two more at Jiebmaluokta in Alta (Helskog 1988, 106). This image images) if it is correct that these were the very first imag- gives the impression of basically being a geometric dees carved on this panel (Gjessing 1936, 161; Hallström sign consisting mostly of zigzags, but at the left edge is a 1938, 316; Sognnes 2008b). The panel, which is around distinct cervid with a short antler and a curved front leg. 20 m long and 6 m high, has plenty of space to carve four, This pattern can, however, be seen as repetitions of the six or more full-size elk without superimposing. The two front of the cervid, mimicking the head, antler and front large reindeer images at Hell may also be seen as a com- leg of this animal. position. The large, superimposed elk at Bardal I may actually The whale images in Figure 24 may be seen as yet anoth- demonstrate one way of drawing a small herd of elk as if er example of a deliberate composition with three small the animals actually were standing together, being drawn whales placed inside the body of a larger one at Hammer not as the artist(s) saw them but as he or she knew they VII (Bakka and Gaustad 1975). They were all drawn dif- looked like. The animals are shown in different positions, ferently, which makes it unlikely that they show a mother facing left or right and are not placed directly on top of with calves; they may depict a real event actually seen each other. The composition contains a vertical compo-


Drawing Animals nent; each animal is positioned slightly above or below the animal next to it. Figure 52 emphasises this. Horizontal lines are added marking the positions of the hooves, that is, the ground level upon which the animal in question is standing. Animals and corresponding lines are given the same numbers. The position of these horizontal lines relative to each other can be interpreted as marking increased distance from the viewer, the upper image being the most distant one. The naturally curved surface of the rock further enhances the feeling of perspective, the upper image being physically the smaller and at the same time the most distant one.

the animal is seen from the side. However, the two hind legs, like the front legs, may be seen from the rear, so that this image was drawn in a triangular oblique perspective. Conclusions This study demonstrates that Northern rock art can be approached by methods different from the ones so far practised in Norwegian archaeology and rock art research. For almost a century, this research has been locked within the conception that a unilineal evolutionistic development from large naturalistic images to small schematic images took place during the Stone Age. This comprehension has held such a strong grip on Norwegian rock art research that it has been characterised as a straightjacket (Helskog 1989). To free ourselves from this straightjacket, we have to break with evolutionism, which was rooted in the thinking of the 1800s and was further developed in the 1920s and 1930s.

Individual images may be drawn in different kinds of perspective, too. Leroi-Gourhan (1981, 32-33) identified five different perspectives: A: simple profile, which is the standard presentation of an image. The subject is seen as being represented by an infinite number of points situated on a line, which would be parallel to it. B: bi-angular opposed perspective. The different part of the subject can be flattened out through 180°. It is the maximum extent of ‘intellectual realism’, since the subject can be seen from four sides at the same time. C: bi-angular direct perspective. The subject is viewed alternately from the front and in profile, and the different parts can be flattened out through 90°. This is identical with the twisted perspective (chapter three). D: bi-angular oblique perspective. The flattening out is in the order of 45°. E: uni-angular perspective. This corresponds to the linear perspective of the classical arts: a point of view a little in front of or behind the subject.

This is what I have tried to do here; focusing on how individual images were constructed, not on the presence of different elements and variables but on how these may have been drawn. The images have been deconstructed and initial line and body segments are identified. Then the images are reconstructed in an order that probably is identical with that used by the prehistoric artists. For some segments, like antler and ears, it is normally not possible to tell when they were drawn within the sequence; they were frequently treated as separate segments and in principle may have been drawn at any time. The outlined images show a tendency towards ‘naturalism’, but many have contours that are far from ‘naturalistic’.

Most Northern zoomorphs in central Norway were drawn as simple profile images, but other kinds of perspectives are also represented. The simple profile way of drawing is perhaps best represented by the Bøla reindeer (Figure 8) drawn with one front leg and one hind leg together with one branch of the antler. Most whales and porpoises were drawn in a bi-angular direct perspective with the head and trunk seen from the side and the tail drawn like a fish tail, which means that it is seen from above or below. Frequently, two parallel flippers were drawn in a bi-angular perspective.

Cervids were drawn in many different ways, and the visual expression of each individual image varies considerably. Yet, it is possible to identify the order in which the body segments were drawn. In most cases, the artists started by drawing the back, neck and head, the neck and head being contoured. The sizes of these segments seem to have been decisive for the size of the animal if the image was meant to have fairly natural proportions. This principle was, however, ignored for the more ‘schematic’ images, for which the artists started with a single line. In most cases, this line was horizontal, marking the animal’s back. The trunk and legs frequently hang from this back line. Occasionally, no separate belly line was drawn. This is, in fact, the way most Southern style zoomorphic images were drawn, which, in general, appear to depict horses, however. Other basic drawing principles are identified, too, some of which are only found at a few sites in Møre and Romsdal. They apparently represent local, alternative ways of ‘reading’ and drawing cervids and should be considered as innovative works rather than expressing a lack of drawing capacity. This is in accordance with Engelstad’s (1934) claim that Stone Age artists were capable of drawing naturalistic renderings of animals if they wanted to.

The standard procedure seems to have been to draw cervids with two contoured legs. Hooves frequently are missing and sometimes it is difficult to decide whether some of the images in question actually have four single-lined legs. However, images are found which clearly have four legs, all with hooves. See, for example, Figures 38C from Bogge and 47E from Bardal. The animals at Honnhammaren shown in Figure 41C-D clearly have four legs, too. The Bardal image is seen from the side, which means that it was drawn in a uni-angular perspective. For the two images at Honnhammaren, the head and neck lines continue directly into the lines marking the forelegs; hence, these images were drawn in a bi-angular oblique perspective. The parallel forelegs of the Bogge image (Figure 39E) may be seen from the front as well, whereas most of

Comparing these analyses from the larger sites reveals great variations in the ways cervids, in particular, were


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway drawn. Dissimilarities are more common than similarities. We may ask whether we actually are dealing with one rock art tradition common for northern Scandinavia or a series of local traditions in spite of the overall focus on cervids, whether elk, reindeer or red deer. However, the Northern rock art in central Norway differs from the rock art further north and east in its strong focus on terrestrial and maritime images, around 40 per cent of both classes. The maritime focus is, however, on whales and aquatic birds, not boats.

Taking this as a starting point for further reflections, we may question how to draw a line between these two ‘styles’. Shetelig (1922, 129) considered the Bøla reindeer to be the very best of the ‘naturalistic’ images. Hallström (1938, 337), however, argued against it being ’the most artistic animal figure in Northern naturalism’, finding some Nordland images more to his taste. The Bøla reindeer does not show the same degree of ‘movement’ as these Nordland carvings, but its contour line comprises the entire animal, including the ear and antler, the latter being drawn with a double line. This is actually rare among the images belonging to Hallström’s confined Nordland style. For most of these images, the artists drew the antler with single lines. Some have contoured antlers, but these were drawn as separate segments. Many images lack ears, which, when present, were often drawn as separate segments. We find the same at Gärdet in Jämtland, Sweden, where the ears of the large cervids were drawn separately. Frequently, the head was drawn rather roughly, lacking details. In short, closer analyses of these carvings reveal great variations regarding the ways they were drawn.

As stated above, the artists who designed most of the cervid images found on rocks in central Norway followed two main procedures; they either started by drawing a contoured head with adhered lines, or a straight or slightly curved line. The first of these is found at most sites in central Norway while the second is seen at a limited number of sites and panels: Bogge I, Holte I, Bardal III and Homnes I. If this is applied to Gjessing’s style sequence, we find that images drawn according to the single-line procedure belong to style group III, the contoured head procedure fits style groups I and II, but some examples also fall into style group III. This may lead us to ask whether two different traditions are represented and whether these were contemporary or not.

Scenes and compositions seem to be more frequent than hitherto accepted. The four large fish at Honnhammar III, for instance, clearly are balanced relative to each other. Interestingly, the geometric pattern recently discovered on this panel follows a vertical axis which is perpendicular to the horizontal axis formed by the two fish. The fish at Selset, too, form a distinct composition. First, all the fish have symmetrical bodies, a longitudinal line marking the symmetry axes. The tails, however, are shown in different positions, as if the fish were swimming. With one exception, they all appear to be swimming towards one point, a small rostrum-like ‘plateau’ above and behind the panel (Sognnes 2006). Furthermore, the initial group of elk at Bardal I is located close to the left-hand end of the panel, marked by a low, vertical wall. Immediately below this group of superimposed elk, two converging rows of eyelike grooves crossing the panel meet (Sognnes 2008).

The Evenhus and Hammer sites appear to be more similar than the other larger sites. This is partly due to the images represented, both sites having high percentages of whales and cervids. Boats are found at both sites, too. Hammer has a large number of birds, whereas no birds have been identified at Evenhus. In particular, some of the boats at these two sites are very similar. Fully contoured cervids are rare, particularly the ‘naturalistic’ variants. In a surprisingly large number of images, the artists ignored the foreleg when drawing the animals; this leg was drawn separately and superimposed on the trunk. Sometimes the hind leg was drawn like this, too. Interestingly, this was the way the very few large, contoured cervid images in Valcamonica, northern Italy, were drawn, too (Anati 1982, 96-105, see Figure 72). The forelegs were clearly drawn separately from the rest of the animal to remove these images from being ‘naturalistic’ and/or ‘contoured’. This holds true even for the large images at Hell, and also the Vangdal and Rykkje images in Hordaland (Mandt 1972), which are normally considered contoured and naturalistic. The superimposing of the legs upon the trunk, that is, drawing the images as a series of body segments, seems to be a more relevant argument for dividing Gjessing’s style group II into sub-styles rather than focusing on the existence or not of internal line patterns.

As mentioned above, we find several examples of large and small whales placed together as if they are showing mother and calf. To these should be added what seems to be the only scenic representation of whale hunting hitherto found in central Norway, a boat with two persons carrying large spears or harpoons confronting a whale at Vasstrand. Unfortunately, this whale is now fragmentary. Whales inside boats found at Evenhus may also represent whale-hunting scenes. In addition, the row of boats on this panel, superimposed on the other images, can be seen as yet another example of a composition.



Rock art landscapes

nature, landscape became transformed into a cultural idea that could be used as an analytical concept. I would claim, however, that the original meaning of the landscape concept is kept in natural sciences as the modern concept of geomorphology, the branch of both physiography and geology dealing with the form of the Earth and the general configuration of its surface, but also with changes that take place in the evolution of landforms (DGT 1962).

After more than a century of documentation and study of Northern rock art, many questions still remain unanswered. Most will remain unanswered since we have no direct link to the ancient people who made this art, but we do have some knowledge about the relationship between rock art and landscape which the people of the past, even the artists, probably did not have. We have access to data that make it possible to identify large-scale distribution patterns as well as regional and local differences. In some regions, a great deal of rock art was made, in others some is known and in yet others none appears to exist. These patterns may be the result of weathering processes, but as similar patterns can be identified in several regions with different bedrock, rock art was probably not made everywhere.

We also have a more direct relationship with the landscape. It is experienced; we live in it, travel through it and change it. The way we experience landscape includes our relationships with our surroundings, with material culture, visual culture, architecture, ecological niches, memories, narratives and cosmologies (Johnston 1998, 317). Landscape, thus, is characterised by a duality between nature and culture, and also between analytical distance and experience from living within it; the landscape is changing and dynamic. This dynamism is partly due to natural and man-made changes. However, our relationship with the landscape through our experiences and interpretations can be considered a cultural process as well (Hirsch 1995, 5). We thus find the term ‘landscape’ to be a fluid concept, the meaning of which changes according to its use in different academic disciplines.

During the last decades, landscape studies have become an important part of archaeology and of rock art studies as well. Topography, together with subject matter, was the main argument why sites were linked to Stone Age foragers. This was the case for Bogge (Ziegler 1901) and this interpretation was further emphasised for the large Vingen site in western Norway. Vingen is located in an area especially rich in red deer, which traditionally were killed by chasing them off steep cliffs (K. Bing 1912). Similarly, the location of Southern rock art in or near cultivated land was used to interpret this rock art as evidence of fertility rituals (e.g. Marstrander 1963, 256). In the late 1960s, Mandt pioneered more profound studies of the location of the Southern Scandinavian rock art within its landscape settings (Mandt Larsen 1972; Mandt 1978). Other archaeologists soon followed her lead (e.g. Kjellén and Hyenstrand 1977; Sognnes 1983; Bertilsson 1987). Later, Northern rock art, too, was brought into this discussion (Ramqvist 1992; Sognnes 1992; 1994). Studies of rock art in landscapes have increased considerably in later years, as exemplified by a number of monographs and anthologies (e.g. Bradley 1997; Nash and Chippindale 2002; Chippindale and Nash 2004; Sognnes 2004).

A phenomenological approach to landscape in archaeology gained interest during the last decades. Tilley (1994), following Merleau-Ponty (1962), played a significant part in this, emphasising the role of perception. The key issue in this approach is how people experience and understand the world; phenomenology involves the understanding and description of things, in this case a landscape (Tilley 1994, 11-12). As scholars of today, we perceive the world differently from ancient foragers and farmers. Neither would Stone Age coastal fishermen perceive the landscape in the same way as contemporary farmers or hunters exploiting highlands and mountain areas. In northern parts of Scandinavia, our experience of a landscape is often dominated by verticality, by hills and mountains, but also by dense coniferous forests. However, at the same time, the foreground is frequently dominated by horizontality. While moving around, we experience that the foreground changes rapidly, while the background may remain more or less static for a long time. We experience this from eye level, as humans from between 1.5 and 2 m above the ground (Gansum et al. 1997). While travelling in small boats, the traditional way of travelling in the coastscapes and fjordscapes of Norway, as well as on inland lakes and rivers, our eye level may be less than 1 m above the water, which forms the horizontal foreground.

Early uses of the concept of landscape, Norwegian landskap and landskapnad, Dutch landschap, German Landschaft and landschip in Old English, seem primarily to represent the physical properties of the land. However, during the sixteenth century, Dutch painters started using landscape as a technical term for a certain genre of art. This new meaning, that the landscape was recognised as such because it reminded the viewer of a painting, has strongly influenced modern Western thinking. People looked at landscapes, like paintings, from a distance, recognising foregrounds and backgrounds (Hirsch 1995, 23; Van de Noort 2011, 23). Because of this distancing from


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway My own academic background from studying geology and geomorphology clearly influences the way I see and think landscape. The physical landscape of the study area today differs greatly from that during the Stone Age. This is the case for the vegetation as well. Today, large spruce forests dominate central Norway; spruce, however, did not immigrate until the Iron Age (Hafsten 1987). The present shoreline may be hundreds of metres from where it was when the first settlers arrived in the Early Mesolithic, because the land has been raised up to 200 m relative to the sea during the Early Holocene. Furthermore, numerous landslides have altered the local topography in the lower valleys, which have been exploited by farmers since the Neolithic (e.g. Sognnes 1984; Sveian 1995). The present landscape includes remains of ancient ‘fossilised’ landscapes, but to identify these remains we need to conduct thorough studies of the relationship between land and sea in a long time perspective. We can more directly perceive the ancient landscapes at just a few inland lake and river sites. What we perceive and experience today may therefore have little relevance for our understanding and interpretation of the lives of the foragers who exploited this landscape in an ancient past.

studies of rock art sites. This method, inspired by the work of landscape architects, divided the landscape into visual ‘rooms’. In Norwegian archaeology, it was originally used for studies of Iron Age farms (Keller 1993; Gansum et al. 1997). However, the Bergen students started using the method for Southern tradition rock carvings as well (e.g. Vevatne 1996; Wrigglesworth 2000), and the method has even been used for Northern rock art in this region (Gjerde 2002). Stafseth (2005) studied Northern sites in inner Trondheimsfjord from this perspective through a series of case studies along this communication route, which apparently brings the rock art and landscape study closer to the past, since the art was thought to have been made by migrating foragers. Most of the Norwegian rock art discourse is based on tracings, and partly on photographs, often with emphasis on individual images that are separated from their contexts. To some extent, the visual landscape analyses may be seen as a phenomenological approach to the study of rock art based on how each researcher approaches and experiences the sites and their surroundings. However, the many depictions of scenes in Alta led Helskog to study the panels as entities, seeing the images in relation to each other and documenting the three-dimensionality of the panels by means of drawings that emphasise how the panels are seen from certain directions; an alternative focus is put on the interplay between images, topography and viewers (Helskog 2012).

However, since I study the locations and contents of rock art sites and panels at different levels, I use different approaches depending on the level of study. For the overall patterns, I focus on geomorphology, but while studying individual panels I tend to lean more on phenomenology. During the last decades, many new discoveries of Northern rock art have been made in central Norway, some as the result of systematic searching near already known panels. Two major clusters can be identified, one in central and inner Trondheimsfjord and the other further southwest, in the districts of Romsdal and Nordmøre. In this chapter, I focus on the locations of the sites, trying to identify distribution patterns and topographical features that might have influenced the choices of sites and panels for making rock art. Former landscape studies tended to focus on the Holocene land uplift primarily as a means of dating this art.

Landscapes as context At the panel and site levels discussed so far, we clearly know much less than the makers of the Northern rock art in central Norway and neighbouring regions in Norway and Sweden. Turning to regional and inter-regional levels, we may, however, know more than the people of the past. While people belonging to a certain group, band or clan would know locations and meanings of the rock art within their own territories, they probably were unaware of what existed in territories used by other groups. Systematic mapping of sites for more than a century has provided the academic world with knowledge about distribution patterns on the macro-level of rock art over much wider areas. We know that in northern Sweden many rock art sites are located in two major catchments, the upper Indalsälven and lower Ångermanälven rivers (Sognnes 2001a). The situation seems to be analogous in eastern Norway with a majority of sites being located within the catchment areas of the Gudbrandsdalslågen and Drammenselva rivers.

Mandt Larsen’s (e.g. 1972) seminal study dealt with rock art in the county of Hordaland, west Norway, most of which belongs to the Southern Scandinavian tradition. However, Northern sites were known from Kvam in the Hardanger district. Mandt divided the landscape into three topographical zones from the outer coast to the inner fjords, as well as four vertical zones from the sea to the high mountains, studying the distribution of images relative to these zones. My own early landscape studies dealt with Southern Scandinavian rock art, too, focusing on the central Norwegian record as an indicator of early farming entities in a Bronze Age landscape (Sognnes 2001). However, I have later moved on to study the relationship between Northern rock art and landscapes in this region and adjacent parts of Sweden (Sognnes 2001a).

The distribution pattern seems to be different in central Norway, but if we consider Trondheimsfjord as a submerged river catchment, we find a corresponding distribution pattern, with most sites being located along the fjord. However, during the Mesolithic, most human activities apparently took place along the coast. The land surrounding the fjord seems to have been more extensively exploited during the Neolithic, migrations between coast and hinterland becoming more important (Alsaker 2005, 44). Habitation expanded into the realm of the elk, which came to play an important role, not only for subsistence but also in

Some of Mandt’s students at the University of Bergen have used visual landscape analysis as a tool in their



Figure 53. A new perspective on the Bøla site in Steinkjer emphasising its location on the riverbank. Bøla II is in the middle of the upper left cascade, Bøla I further to the left on the same rock (photo E. M. Skeie 2004).

myths and rituals. This is evidenced by rock art found scattered all over northern Eurasia, from coastal Norway to central Siberia. The traditional coastal adaptation continued. Whales, boats and seabirds were still important motifs in the rock art repertoire.

In terms of vegetation, the Preboreal stage (≈ Early Mesolithic), from around 10 000 to 9000 BP, was characterised by a pioneer vegetation consisting of open birch forest with a ground vegetation comprised of dwarf birch, willow, juniper, heather, ferns, grasses and lightdemanding herbs. Later, the forests became denser. Turning to the periods during which most Northern rock art probably was made in central Norway, that is, in the Late Mesolithic and the Neolithic (6000-3500 BP), the Late Mesolithic corresponding to the Atlantic Period or Holocene Climatic Optimum, when the vegetation was dominated by alder, elm and hazel, and the Neolithic roughly corresponding with the early part of the Subboreal Period, when there was a transitional type of mixed forest with declining elm, hazel and alder and expanding birch and pine. After around 4000 BP, the forest became dominated by hardy boreal elements like pine and birch (Hafsten 1987).

The study area consists of a landscape with great variations regarding geology, vegetation and fauna, consisting of a lowland coastal rim with a myriad of islands and islets, a mountainous landmass with peaks reaching more than 2000 m above sea level, and fjords and valleys cutting deeply into this landmass. At the end of the Pleistocene, the sea level was much lower than today, but at the same time the land was covered by glaciers. Since then, the landscape has continuously changed, making it necessary for us to not only study the remains of human settlements and exploitation, but also to reconstruct contemporary landscapes. Areas suitable for farming are small. If we view this region as a whole, there should be little doubt that it is more suitable for foraging than it is for agriculture.

During the period when the rock art is thought to have been made, some changes took place in the forests that covered most of the land. The coastal area, which is now little forested, but is dominated by heather, was mostly forested, too. Further south along the coast, palynological studies have demonstrated that people created the coastal heathland during the Bronze Age (Kaland 1986).

Holocene climatic changes led to changes in vegetation and fauna as well, changes that affected the possibilities for people to exploit the environment. These changes are best documented for the vegetation by means of palynological studies (e.g. Hafsten 1987). Changes in fauna can be identified to some extent by excavating dwelling sites containing bones suitable for osteological study. However, hardly any bones are preserved from the pioneering Early Mesolithic phase. Furthermore, this material primarily concerns species eaten by people, not the contemporary fauna of the area as such.

New discoveries seldom lead to new understanding of the rock art at a general level, but may lead to important conceptual changes in our understanding at site level. The recent discoveries of hitherto unknown rock art panels at Bøla, however, led to a change in how visitors may approach and understand a site. For almost a century, visi-


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway tors admired the large, ‘naturalistic’ Bøla reindeer, focusing on a single spot on a low, vertical panel seasonally surrounded, even covered, by water. Today, the sense of its splendid isolation is broken. The recognition of four more panels a decade ago with a total of more than thirty carvings has changed our experience of this site. Visitors now walk around and between the panels, looking at and experiencing them from different viewpoints (Figure 53), at the same time as they see the Bøla reindeer from many new directions (Sognnes 2011).

the landscapes of the past, in particular because most rock art is located in areas that were affected by the Holocene land uplift. During this process, large areas of former seabed emerged, and these were covered by Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene marine clay. While the uplift brought new land up from the sea, other geological processes started breaking down this land. These processes are slow for solid rocks, but the raised former seabed became unstable due to gradually reduced salinity in the ground, resulting in numerous small and large clay slides, many of which can still be identified today. These catastrophic events changed the local topography, leaving depressions on the hillsides and covering river terraces in the valley bottoms, sometimes forcing rivers to take new courses.

On the tracing of the Selset panel, the fish images are placed virtually parallel to each other (Figure 23). This, however, is the result of the documentary transformation from three to two dimensions. A closer study of this panel showed that the fish are in reality ‘swimming’ towards one particular point (Sognnes 2006). These glimpses into recent research regarding rock art and landscape in central Norway demonstrate that the relationship between rock art, humans and landscape can and should be studied at several levels (Sognnes 2001).

At Re Farm in the lower Stjørdal valley, a subfossil vegetation layer was found 5 m below the current topsoil. This layer was radiocarbon dated (calibrated) to 3530 ± 130 BP (T-6072), that is, to the Neolithic/Bronze Age transition, about the time when the making of Southern Scandinavian rock art apparently started, the majority of Southern Scandinavian rock art sites in central Norway being located in this particular valley. What may be hidden below these deposits, whether dwelling sites or rock art, remains unknown. However, two small panels were discovered on Re Farm on rock outcrops reaching above the landslide deposits (Sognnes and Haug 1998).

Changing landscapes During the Ice Age, the Scandinavian Peninsula was pressed down by the large ice cap covering northernmost Europe. When this ice cap started melting, a eustatic rise in sea level followed. The ice pressure diminished and the Earth’s crust started readjusting. During the first millennia, this readjustment was fast, but the speed gradually reduced. In most of Scandinavia, this isostatic land uplift is still taking place (e.g. Hafsten 1983); in the Trondheimsfjord area, it is measured to 4-5 mm and on the coast to 1-2 mm annually (Sveian and Solli 1997a, 125). From 8000 to 6000 BP, the sea level rose faster than the land and parts of the newly uplifted land on the coast were inundated. Norwegian rock art literature from the twentieth century frequently referred to this transgression, which, however, was difficult to date but at the same time served as an important element in the dating discussion (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938). During most of the Holocene, however, a regression took place. Unfortunately, the existing shoreline displacement curves are too rough to identify any minor, short-term fluctuations.

During the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene, the Stjørdal valley, as well as the other valleys around the Trondheimsfjord basin, became filled with meltwater deposits, mostly sand and gravel, on top of the marine clays. The land uplift caused the rivers to erode these deposits both vertically and horizontally. The result of these processes is that only fragments of the Holocene landscape in these valleys exist today along the hillsides (Sveian and Solli 1997a; 1997b). Rock art is found on these terraces, but so far only Southern Scandinavian tradition carvings have been identified (Marstrander and Sognnes 1999; Sognnes 2001). Regarding the Stone Age, we are actually dealing with archaeological ‘black holes’. This may be one reason why Mesolithic and Early Neolithic dwelling sites are apparently missing from the Trondheimsfjord hinterland.

The ice cap 20 000 years BP reached far into the Norwegian Sea. Around 15 000 BP, it had retreated to the Halten Bank, west of the mouth of Trondheimsfjord, and around 13 000 BP the ice front was located at the outermost islands in the present archipelagos of Vega, Vikna, Frøya and Smøla. Around 12 000 BP, the ice front was at the mouth of the fjord and two millennia later it had retreated to the current inner end of the fjord. Around 9000 BP, it was near the present border to Sweden, which in general follows the watershed in the northern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula (Kjenstad and Sollid 1982; Andersen et al. 1995). Concurrently with this, land uplift was at its most intense and the border between land and sea changed rapidly.

When the ice cap still covered most of the land, the meltwater was forced to follow channels formed by the ice. Frequently these channels followed cracks and fissures through thresholds that normally would block and dam the rivers. This is the case at Foss in the Gauldal valley where the lowermost rapids on the River Gaula are found in a narrow canyon. Rock art is found at Foss Farm, high above this canyon (Marstrander and Sognnes 1999), but, as for the Stjørdal valley, these carvings belong to the Southern Scandinavian tradition. At Nerhol Farm in Oppdal, the River Driva runs through a narrow canyon at the side of which a painted elk (= Nerhol II) has been identified high above normal water level (Figure 57). Two hundred metres upstream, the Nerhol I panel is located on an ancient riverbed created by meltwater during the Early Holocene. Bøla has been considered a fjord

The essence of this is that the current landscape cannot be taken for granted as a starting point for reconstructions of


Locations Curves from Frosta (Kjemperud 1981) and Verdal (Sveian and Olsen 1984) in Nord-Trøndelag appear to be complete, but they, too, are based on only a few radiocarbon-dated samples. Kjemperud (1981), for instance, stated that no such samples exist for the Frosta curve for the last 4000 years. However, existing curves have been used to construct computer programs that can draw local curves for virtually any place in Norway based on interpolations for areas without reliable data (Møller 1987; 1995; Holmeslet 2002). Combining these shoreline displacement data with modern maps makes it possible to create maps showing the coastline at almost any time. Figure 55 is based on the maximum Holocene sea level in the Trondheimsfjord area. The measured altitudes vary between 120 m on the outer coast and 200 m in the inland. These levels are, however, not contemporary; there is a time gap of around 3000 years between the maximum levels on the outer coast and the inner fjord areas, during which the sea gradually expanded inland. Of principal interest here are the changes in the landmass. The Fosen peninsula between Trondheimsfjord and the Norwegian Sea once consisted of three large and many small islands. A fourth large island existed Figure 54. Postglacial maximum sea levels in the Trøndelag region (after Sveian and further north in the Namdal district. Solli 1997a; © NGU). In the Early Holocene, when the land was settled by pioneering ‘Fossite since it is located close to Snåsavatn, a lake which na’ foragers, Trondheimsfjord was a sound and could be until around 4000 BP, formed the ‘Snåsafjord’ basin, the reached from both north and south. Moreover, the disinnermost part of Trondheimsfjord. The site is located at tance between the sea and the mountain areas was much the mouth of a narrow S-shaped meltwater canyon. shorter than today. Yet, Fosna seems to represent an extreme coastal adaptation. Elevated topography Since then, the landscape has changed continuously. The Large parts of the present topography in central Norway changes have been most dramatic on the coast, which were seabed in the Stone Age. These areas were of great mostly consists of a low rim of land, the strandflat, a importance for fishing and sealing, and thus for human large part of which is still submerged. Numerous sounds settlement. The shoreline where land and sea meet seems and fjords cut through this rim, dividing it into a myriad to have been a decisive locational factor, most dwelling of skerries, islets and islands, as well as headlands and sites apparently being placed close to the shore. Today, promontories, bays and inlets on the mainland. Due to the these sites are found at different altitudes above the curlow relief of the strandflat, the new land grew rapidly. rent sea level. Diagrams showing the Holocene land uplift Small islands merged into larger ones, which eventually have been constructed for some sites in the region. The merged with the growing mainland. Areas with steeper amount of data on which these curves are based is, howrelief were not affected by the uplift in the same way. In ever, limited, as demonstrated by curves from Bjugn and spite of these great changes, deep and shallow waters Frøya, Sør-Trøndelag, which are quite fragmentary continued to exist, as did narrow sounds with tidal cur(Kjemperud 1986; Svendsen and Mangerud 1997). rents. This means that during the Holocene, whether dur-


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway ing a regression or a transgression, the marine resources were stable. A growing human population was able to continuously exploit the resources of fish, seals, whales and aquatic birds.

between this and other major Northern rock art provinces; so far no exceptionally large site has been found. In western Norway, the large Vingen site (Bøe 1932; Lødøen and Mandt 2012) and the nearby site at Ausevik (Hagen 1970) dominate a region where otherwise very few and small Northern sites are found (Mandt Larsen 1972; Mandt 1991). The Nämforsen site dominates the northern Swedish record (Hallström 1938) and in northern Norway the cluster of sites at Alta (Helskog 1988; 2012a) holds a similar position. On the other hand, no large, dominating site has yet been found in eastern Norway.

The land uplift soon closed the large inland sound and Trondheimsfjord was created. In the beginning, this fjord was much wider than it is today and contained many more islands (Figure 55). Gradually, however, the fjord became narrower and most islands merged with the mainland, and former bays and inlets were transformed into lakes. The fjord eventually became around 60 km shorter, reaching its current length.

The sites along central and northern parts of Trondheimsfjord form a distinct cluster; the Romsdal and Nordmøre cluster is less distinct, but helps to emphasise the difference between this and other Northern rock art regions. I will now look more closely at the settings of the rock art panels and sites in this region from different perspectives.

The coastal rim today is virtually treeless (except for modern plantations), and consists of rock and heathland. Human settlements are scattered, being located on small patches of arable land in bays, inlets and on larger islands. Subsistence for millennia was based on small-scale farming combined with fishing. The lack of trees is probably due to human impact, the vegetation being kept down by grazing and burning of heather and larger vegetation. Most cultivated land is located on the eastern side of Trondheimsfjord, where it is surrounded by extensive forests now dominated by spruce trees.

Trails and territories Most Northern rock art in Sweden is concentrated in two major drainage areas, a large lake, Storsjön, and the upper stretch of a river, Inndalsälven, in the county of Jämtland, and a river, Ångermanälven, in the county of Västerbotten. Sites are also found beside the River Ljusnan in Härjedalen. On the Norwegian side of the watershed, the Trondheimsfjord basins may be seen as the submerged part of a large drainage area, while Sunndalsfjord and the Sunndal valley form a similar, but smaller, drainage area in Nordmøre, which is linked to the Romsdalsfjord drainage area via a low isthmus.

The vast majority of Northern rock art sites in Norway are found on land that has emerged from the sea during the Holocene; in northern Nordland on rock that emerged already during the Early Mesolithic, but generally, as in central Norway, during the Late Mesolithic and Neolithic. This means that this rock art is found on ancient shorelines, but it does not mean per se that it was shore-bound. Regional level

Members of Stone Age groups knew their own migration routes, but hardly those belonging to other groups. On the other hand, if they moved into unknown territory, would they be able to recognise hunting trails and migration routes within this territory? Perhaps common ways of locating rock art helped them to obtain this kind of information by identifying topographic features generally favoured for making rock art. To some extent, we are able to recognise such patterns today. Some rock art sites have been identified as maps, for instance in Valcamonica, Italy (Anati 1976; Fossati 2003), and in northern Russia (Okladnikova 1998). Similar maps have not been searched for in the study area, but some panels may mark routes through the landscape and as such be part of Stone Age cognitive maps.

Researchers have emphasised the special position of the Northern rock art in central Norway in a wider perspective. While Northern rock art in other regions seemingly forms homogenous entities as regards images and styles, the central Norwegian record has been seen as a mixture of impulses from several directions (Simonsen 1974; Hagen 1976; 1990; Lindqvist 1994;). This holds true also for contemporary material culture (Marstrander 1956; Alsaker 2005). Seen from this perspective, Gjessing (1936) argued that the rock art in central Norway showed early influences from northern Norway and later ones from Russia and Siberia. Based on his studies of the rock art in Australia, Taçon (2013) looked into areas in between the larger, wellstudied rock art regions. In these areas, rock art is less frequent, but at the same time has a greater variety of images, indicating that it may represent ‘junction and gateways, places where different peoples came in contact with each other or places occupied by different groups at different times’ (Taçon 2013, 74). These Australian examples cannot be directly compared with central Norway, which, however, may be seen as a region where different groups met and made rock art for a long time. But at the same time, this is one of the major rock art regions in northern Europe. There is, however, a major difference

Identifying watercourses and territories exploited by Stone Age people is normally done by means of remains of dwelling and hunting sites, but also by rock art, rock carvings representing the most permanent class of manmade remains from the Stone Age. Because most migrations and traffic took place on water between islands and headlands on the coast and along the fjords, physical traces of these trails are difficult to identify. Trails between fjords and mountains probably followed the valleys, but due to extensive river erosion and frequent landslides these trails may be virtually impossible to identify today. Some old paths, of unknown age, do exist, the Stjørdal valley


Locations Orkdal and Gauldal valleys, respectively. However, no Northern rock art has so far been found near these mouths. Along the coast Averøy, an island west of the town of Kristiansund, may serve as a starting point for the continued discussion. Two Northern rock art sites, Rødsand and Søbstad (Figure 56) are found on this island. Averøy lies in the core area of the Early Mesolithic Fosna culture (Pettersen 2005). or ‘industry’ (Nummedal 1914). The rock art, however, is much younger. During Fosna time, the sea still covered the bedrock where the panels in question are located. The Rødsand site is on the southeastern side of the island, at the foot of a hill, Rødsandberget, facing the sound between the islands of Averøy and Frei. This sound leads towards the long, narrow Sunndalsfjord, which extends far inland. A raised shoreline forms a shelf between the site and the sea. The inner part of this shelf is covered with boulders, which probably are the remains of a Late Pleistocene moraine. Images depict elk and whales, some strange-looking quadrupeds, and geometric designs. The carvings form a frieze along the hill foot (Sognnes 1996a; Kleiva 2006; Sørensen 2008). Two phases may be represented since the remains of a nearly full-size cervid seem to be superimposed by a smaller quadruped.

Figure 55. The distribution of Northern rock art in the main Nordmøre fjord systems.

being a good example. The Holocene geological history of the lower part of this valley has been studied in detail (Sveian 1995), partly also from the perspective of rock art (Sognnes 1987). The modern thoroughfare follows the river along the valley floor while older paths follow the north side of the valley around 100 m above the present valley floor, passing close to Southern tradition rock art sites at Berg, Bjørngård and Fordal farms (Sognnes 2001). The Northern sites found in this valley, at Hell and Lånke, are located on the south side, near the mouth of the valley, where they may mark the transition from land to sea and vice versa. A similar situation can be identified in the Verdal valley, represented by the carvings at Berg.

The Søbstad site is in the northern part of the island, in a narrow inlet that opens towards the Norwegian Sea (Figure 55). Several islets are located in this inlet, which makes the hillock with the rock carvings difficult to identify. The location of this site indicates that it was less accessible than the Rødsand site; we may claim that it was, and still is, hidden in a landscape where the carvings were difficult to find for people who were unfamiliar with the local topography. It is unlikely that this narrow inlet was part of any major, long-distance hunting trail; few people would know the existence of the carvings. The hillock with the Søbstad carvings is now linked to mainland Averøy, but until the Early Iron Age it formed an islet separated from Averøy by a shallow sound. The carvings are found on curved, vertical panels polished by the ice, and whales dominate. Geometric designs are also found, some of which are on a weathered outcrop between the two main panels (Møllenhus 1968a; Sognnes 1996a).

Mesolithic dwelling sites have been identified in the Oppdal mountains to the east of the upper Sunndal-Drivdal drainage area (Grønlie and T. Petersen 1948; L. Gustafson 1986a; Callanan 2008; 2009). Contemporary sites seemingly are missing from the steep-sided Sunndal valley. This may be due to weathering, but the early hunters may actually have chosen to reach the mountain plateau directly from the inner part of the coastal rim, which gave faster access to the large reindeer hunting grounds. The paintings at Nerhol Farm in the Drivdal valley depict elk, representing a later phase as elk probably had not migrated into this area when the first humans arrived. However, traffic in the outer part of this drainage area may have been marked by the Honnhammaren sites and further out on the coast by the sites at Rødsand and Søbstad on the island of Averøy.

In its outer part, Romsdalsfjord, west of Sunndalsfjord, forms a wide basin separated from the Norwegian Sea by a row of islands, which together with the Fræna peninsula, forms a barrier against the ocean. Facing this fjord are two small sites with rock carvings, one on each side of the easternmost sound leading towards the open sea and crossing the island barrier. The carvings are at Bjørset (T. Petersen 1939), on the mainland in the outskirts of the city of Molde, and at Reiten on the island of Otterøy, to the west of the sound (Møllenhus 1968a). At Bjørset, two carved boulders are located close to each other, one of which apparently contains two images depicting whales, the other having an intricate geometric pattern (Ramstad 2002; Kleiva 2006). Unusual symbols found on one of the boulders are also known from a

Most human trails would probably follow those of the animals being hunted and important hunting sites would be located at places where these trails crossed rivers, lakes and fjords. Some rock art sites actually seem to have been located at such places. This is the case for Bøla and probably for Rødsand, too. The sites at Stykket and Rein are located on either side of a headland from where Trondheimsfjord can be crossed in two directions, towards each side of the joint mouths of the tributary fjord, Orkdalsfjord, and Gaulosen, which lead towards the long


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway Southern tradition site in Båhuslän, Sweden, suggesting that it may be questionable to date these carvings to the Stone Age. At Reiten, two stylised zoomorphs are found on the front of a large slab that rests on a boulder. It is not known whether this slab is in its original position. One image seems to depict a bird, the other possibly a seal. No Northern rock art is known further west in the county of Møre and Romsdal. This also holds true for the area between Averøy and Trondheimsfjord, where there are several large islands. A cluster of sites with rock paintings is found on the Fosen peninsula, north and west of Trondheimsfjord, most of them in the Bjugn district near the southwestern end of the peninsula (Figure 56). The Teksdal I panel (Møllenhus 1962), that contains one (possibly two) painted fish images, faced a bay, while sites at Mølnargården, Ervik and Heggvik face inlets on Trondheimsfjord. A painted elk and two anthropomorphs have been identified at Mølnargården. The Ervik carvings, an elk and a boat, are only known from an oral description and a sketch. A small elk and a geometric pattern have been identified at Heggvik.

Figure 56. The distribution of known Northern rock art sites in Bjugn, Sør-Trøndelag; sea level at + 55 m. The location of the Ervik boulder is not known.

The fjord passing Almfjellet and Rauhammerfjellet in the Early Mesolithic started at Teksdal and extended about 14 km inland. From the inner end of this fjord, it was less than 2 km over land (which could be portaged) to another small fjord, the present Nordfjord, where the Heggvik site is located. Many narrow inlets existed at this sea level. Finding your way from the coast to the inner fjord basin with the Almfjellet and Rauhammerfjellet panels was by no means easy; it must have been like paddling in a maze. First, you had to find the narrow fjord mouth with its strong tidal current at Teksdal before entering the Teksdal basin. At the inner end of this basin, you had to find another narrow opening, followed by a third one before you could enter the Gjølgavatnet basin. Only well-informed people would find their way to this innermost basin. The rock art panels were hidden from strangers by the surrounding topography. These Bjugn sites may be described as being located in a hidden or virtually closed landscape.

Lakes, bogs and narrow, steep-sided, forested valleys now dominate the southern part of the Fosen peninsula. Walking in this landscape is difficult; boats were the natural means of communication. The map shows the coastline drawn 55 m above present sea level, and this represents the level at the time of the Fosna culture in the ninth millennium BP. Today, most of the shallow sounds shown on the map no longer exist. At this time, land uplift was at its most extreme and only small parts of the subsequently cultivated and inhabited land had emerged from the sea. Two Stone Age dwelling sites have been identified between 45 and 50 m above present sea level some hundred metres to the south of the Mølnargården panel (Alterskjær 1974, 125-127). These sites, together with dwelling sites found at corresponding levels along other former sounds, seemingly mark the beginning of a more extensive exploitation of the area.

The locations of the Heggvik and Teksdal I panels show that these sites must be later than the Early Mesolithic. This may be the case for the other Bjugn paintings, too. A lowering of the sea level on Figure 56 would gradually change the topography considerably. In the Teksdal/Gjølga drainage area, however, the narrow fjord would be transformed into a series of lakes, between which you only had to walk short distances. It would be easy to carry small canoes or boats over these narrow isthmuses.

Rock paintings are found at Varghiet Farm [Almfjellet] on the north side and Gjølga Farm [Rauhammerfjellet] on the south side of a lake called Gjølgavatnet (T. Petersen 1929; Gjessing 1936). Further north on the Fosen peninsula, paintings are found on Vasstrand Farm on the Sandhalsen promontory, facing a lake called Storvatnet (T. Petersen 1932; Gjessing 1936; Sognnes 2015). Today, all these sites are beside lakes, but until around 8500 BP the Almfjellet and Rauhammerfjellet panels faced a narrow fjord. Soon after Gjølgavatnet was isolated from the sea, another lake, Teksdal, between this lake and the sea was isolated. The Teksdal II panel faces this lake. At Vasstrand, a carved whale and a manned boat were added to the repertoire of paintings (Sognnes 1994a; Lindgaard 2009). Geometrical designs are found at Heggvik and Teksdal II. The Teksdal I panel is at the mouth of the River Teksdal (Møllenhus 1964). As shown in Figure 56, the Teksdal I and Heggvik panels are located outside and below the land encompassed by the curve marking the + 55 m level.

On the northwestern side of the Fosen peninsula, carvings are found at Strand (T. Petersen 1930b; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938) and in the outer Namdal district at Reppen (Sognnes 1981). Whales dominate these sites. The topography at Strand resembles that at Rødsand, but the relief is higher. The carvings are on a vertical panel on the north side of a wide inlet. The situation is different at Reppen, the carvings being found on a boulder on a former beach. A similar carved boulder is claimed to have existed at


Locations Ervik on the opposite side of the fjord from Mølnargården. Both boulders have been moved, but the original location of the Reppen boulder is known (see Figure 80). Further north in the Helgeland district, Northern rock art is found at Vistnesdalen (Lund 1941; Sognnes 1989) and Rødøya (T. Petersen 1930a; Gjessing 1936; Sognnes 1989) immediately south of the Arctic Circle. Animals depicted are elk, fish and whales; at Rødøya, boats are found, too. On Rødøya Gjessing (1936, 9) identified two small anthropomorphs as skiers standing on exceptionally long skis holding a pole in one hand. However, Hallström (1938, 185) claimed that these images depicted boats being paddled. I agree with Hallström in this; the best preserved hand-held object more strongly resembles a paddle than a ski pole. If this identification is correct, we are probably dealing with a mixed Northern and Southern tradition site. This is the case at Vistnesdalen, too. This site is dominated by images depicting elk (Lund 1941). However, two footprints are found at Vistnesdalen II (Sognnes 1989, 80). From coast to mountain range Returning to Averøy, we find that the rock art on this island is located in landscape that is relatively undisturbed by modern development; remains of undisturbed Early Mesolithic habitation sites still exist. Contemporary sites are found further inland, in the Trollheimen and Oppdal mountains, the Ålbusetra site being radiocarbon dated to the late 9th millennium BP (L. Gustafson 1986b). We can easily imagine a connection between these early settlements on the coast and those in the mountains. The rock art, however, is much later than these early sites, but hunting trails between the strandflat and the mountainous area would still have existed. That this migration route lasted for a long time is evidenced by another dwelling site at Ålbusetra, which is radiocarbon dated to the early 6th millennium BP (L. Gustafson 1986a; Callanan 2008; 2009).

Figure 57. Nerhol II in Oppdal on the River Driva (author’s photo 2005).

Sunndalsfjord leads into the steep-sided Sunndal valley, where most of the present habitation is on Holocene alluvial deposits. In the upper part of this valley, a small Southern tradition panel is found at Gravem Farm. The Sunndal valley ends shortly above Gravem,. However, hanging’ Drivdal valley continues further southeastwards. Near the transition between these two valleys, at the upper rapids near and within a narrow canyon with large potholes, two panels with paintings depicting elk are found on Nerhol Farm (e.g. Figure 5). Both panels are located under shallow rock shelters, the Nerhol II panel, which contains one elk only, is found around 12 m vertically above the normal water level in the River Driva.

To the south of Averøy, the fjord reaches far inland (different names are frequently used for parts of fjords and straits, the outer part of this fjord being called Tingvollfjord while the inner part is called Sunndalsfjord). Current settlements along this fjord are small and scattered. On the northeastern side, rock paintings are found on two promontories marking the boundaries of Honnhammaren Farm. On both promontories, steep cliffs fall directly into the sea. However, there are series of narrow ledges at different heights, above which are found around 20 decorated panels. When you approach from the shore side, it is difficult to identify the right ledges and thus identify the panels that are now located between 20 and 30 m above sea level; however, the horizontal distances from the sea may be less than 20 m. Two panels are located under narrow rock shelters; the others are directly exposed to sun, rain, snow and the prevailing southwest winds. Images present are elk and reindeer, whales, fish and some geometric designs (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Sognnes 1995). Unlike the Bjugn sites, these paintings were located in an open landscape. Paintings are also found on the vertical side of a large boulder on the nearby Havdalen Farm, but it has not proved possible to identify any images.

The paintings at Honnhammaren face the fjord and some may still be seen from boats passing close by the land. Landing a boat and climbing up to the panels is and was difficult. Reaching the panels from the shore side is difficult, too, partly due to the need to climb but also because the images cannot be seen until the correct ledge has been reached. To some extent, the situation is similar at Nerhol. The terrain surrounding Nerhol I is, however, less rugged. Both panels face the river and Nerhol I can only be seen from the river bed. Nerhol II, however, can also be seen from the other side of the river, across the narrow gorge. Today, this panel may be spotted from a bridge crossing the river between the two panels (Figure 57). Northern rock art is also known at Romsdalsfjord, but not in the adjacent Romsdal valley. Steep mountainsides and peaks separate this fjord from Sunndalsfjord, but the low


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway Tiltereidet isthmus can easily be portaged. This isthmus connects these two drainage areas, forming one large entity reaching from the coast to the Trollheimen and Dovre mountains. There is, however, one problem with this model; dwelling sites are not known in the Sunndal valley. The sides of this valley, however, are extremely steep and scree together with river meandering and erosion may have destroyed ancient dwelling sites on the river plain. Both the Sunndal and Romsdal valleys may be archaeological ‘black holes’.

of the mouth of the Stjørdal valley. Motifs at Hommelvik are fish, birds and boats (Sognnes 1994). Another large cluster of Northern rock art is found on the northern side of the Beitstadfjord basin, which now forms the innermost, larger, Trondheimsfjord basin. Of special interest are the sites at Hammer and Bardal. Hammer, which consists of around 20 panels (K. Rygh 1909; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Bakka and Gaustad 1975; Bakka 1988), is near the southwestern end of the Beitstad promontory. Both Northern and Southern tradition carvings are found here. Most of these carvings were made on panels along the hill foot, facing a shallow beach that started emerging from the sea around 5300 BP. Some panels are on outcrops that were emerging from the middle of this beach, which was protected by a low islet to the south. Soon, a bridge of low land emerged between this islet and the mainland and a small beach formed. Hammer is the largest Northern rock art site known from this region. The subject matter is varied and different styles are represented (Bakka 1988, 19). Motifs are elk, whales, a bear and boats. Panels with both Northern and Southern carvings are known on the neighbouring Skjevik Farm, too. Whales and Northern tradition boat images are known there.

The Vistnesdalen and Rødøya sites should be mentioned here, too, since they are located at the mouth of Vefsnfjord, which cuts deeply into the hinterland in the southern part of Nordland. Rock art is not known from either the central or inner parts of this fjord, or the adjacent Vefsn valley. The Trondheimsfjord area Most rock art sites in central Norway are located around the central and inner parts of Trondheimsfjord. Topographically, this fjord, which today is around 120 km long, can be divided into several basins separated by narrow sounds. On the northern side of the main western basin, called Korsfjord, Northern carvings are found at Rein and Stykket. Images depicted at Rein are elk, zigzags and an anthropomorph (Gaustad 1976). The Stykket panel (Sognnes 1981) is in terrain that falls steeply towards the sea.

The Bardal site is situated 6 km east of Hammer at the foot of the steep northeast-southwest trending Bardalshalla ridge. Along this ridge, a path probably ran towards a lake named Lømsen and the ‘Snåsafjord’ of which this lake was a part during the Mesolithic. Two Northern panels are known from this farm. The main panel (Bardal I) is almost 30 m long and 6 m high. It contains around 50 Northern carvings partly superimposed by more than 300 Southern tradition carvings (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938). Northern motifs are elk, reindeer, birds, humans and geometric patterns. Some of the elk are full size, being drawn in a ‘naturalistic’ manner. The other panel, Bardal III [Lamtrøa], contains only a few small, ‘stylised’ animals. The present Lagtuåsen hillock to the southwest may have helped to identify this site when seen from the sea. However, the carvings were not located on this conspicuous topographical feature, but on outcrops marking the entrance to the path along Bardalshalla. Some Southern panels are also found along the lower part of this path (Hallström 1908a).

The main basin, Strindfjord, is divided into two parts separated by the Frosta peninsula. In the western Strindfjord basin, Northern tradition sites are found at the mouth of the tributary Stjørdalsfjord. The sites at Hell (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Sognnes 1983b) and Lånke (Sognnes 1983b) are on either side of the entrance to the Leksdal valley, apparently marking the entrance. Hell also marks the entrance to the Stjørdal valley, being located on a hillock named Steinmohaugen, where images depicting reindeer are carved on a vertical panel on the southwest side. The Lånke site is located at the foot of the crescent-shaped Tønsåsen hill, which reaches around 100 m above the surrounding plain. The site consists of five small panels, from which the east side of Steinmohaugen is clearly visible. During most of the Stone Age, Tønsåsen rose directly from the sea, being separated from Steinmohaugen by a shallow bay into which the River Leksa flowed. Images at Lånke are elk, birds, whales, fish, a beaver and a large phallic anthropomorph (Sognnes 1983b; Figure 27). Steinmohaugen and Tønsåsen were clearly visible for people passing along the fjord.

The Bøla site is on the south side of the ancient ‘Snåsafjord’ basin, while the Horjem site is on the north side of this basin, near the inner end of Lake Snåsa, approximately where the fjord basin ended at the time the rock carvings supposedly were made. At that time, the outlet of the present lake was through a gorge with strong currents, the present valley between the lake and the present fjord forming a narrow sound (Stafseth 2006). The narrow outlet from the innermost fjord basin may have hampered connections by boat with the outer fjord, especially in winter when the inner basin would probably be covered by ice.

The Evenhus site (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938) may be included in this cluster, too. Until around 4000 BP, this site was located at the eastern end of a low island virtually in the middle of the fjord. This island was visible from most shores along central Trondheimsfjord, as the promontory still is today. Motifs depicted are elk, whales and boats. Two small panels are found on the steep eastern side of the bay at Hommelvik, which is located some kilometres west

The Horjem site contains bird images only. The topography around this site indicates that it was situated in a wetland that was visited by migrating birds. Topographically, the Bøla site (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Sognnes


Locations The Stjørdal and Verdal valleys lead more directly towards central Jämtland, where many rock art sites containing both carvings and paintings are known (Hallström 1960; Jensen 1989; Sognnes 2001b; Lindgren 2004). Most of these sites are located beside lakes and rivers. While Trondheimsfjord may have formed the western end of migration trails, Storsjön, a large lake in central Jämtland, and even the Gulf of Bothnia, may have been at their eastern end. In Jämtland, rock carvings and paintings can be followed almost to the present border, but on the Norwegian side, except for the Finnli site, no Northern rock art site is known between the border and Trondheimsfjord. This weakens the relevance of the hypothesis of crosspeninsular migration trails, but no systematic search for rock art has been made in the forested areas on the Norwegian side. Hallström (1960) emphasised the role of possible migration trails between Figure 58. Drawing sequences for cervids at Glösa in Krokom, Jämtland, Sweden Trondheimsfjord and Storsjön for un(originals after Hallström 1938). derstanding the distribution of the Northern rock art in interior northern 2011) is marked by the steep-sided Høghalla hillock. The Sweden. This route, which represents the shortest crossing carvings are, however, not located on this hillock, but on of the Scandinavian Peninsula, was the first one available the Bøla, a stream which flows onto a small beach to the to immigration into northern Sweden. At that time, ice and northeast of Høghalla. The lower stretch of this stream sea still covered most of the land to the north and south of takes a most unusual course. It does not follow the floor of this ‘corridor’ (Baudou 1993, 55). The Storlien pass at the the shallow valley, but runs higher up on the southern border was then around 400 m above contemporary sea slope where it cuts through a ridge in a narrow canyon. level compared with around 600 m today. Contact between the west coast and the interior of the Scandinavian PeninThe styles identified by Gjessing (1936) are found in all sula is demonstrated by the distribution of knives made the Trondheimsfjord basins. This distribution may indicate from coloured slate, in particular red and green ones, found the existence of different groups, each of which primarily on the Norwegian coast. The sources of this slate in this exploited the resources in local territories that covered one region are in present-day Sweden (Alsaker 2005, 70). of the fjord basins and its surrounding land. Following Pumice found in archaeological contexts in inland northern Gjessing’s (1936) dating of the styles, we find that the two Sweden, confirms the existence of contacts between earlier styles I and II are represented in all the basins, but coastal and inland groups during the time in question (R. style III apparently does not occur in the ‘Snåsafjord’ baBinns 1967, 58). sin. Large, ‘naturalistic’, outlined zoomorphic images are Between Trøndelag and Jämtland found at the Landverk and Gärde sites in Jämtland (Hallström 1960). The ‘naturalism’ of the Landverk images Recently, a small, carved elk image (Figure 63) was found should, however, be questioned; these zoomorphs belong on the bank of a stream between the two small Nytjønnan to Gjessing’s style II. Some images at Gärde have size and lakes in Lierne, a mountainous area near the Swedish bor‘naturalism’ in common with the larger images at Bardal der. This site (here referred to as Finnli) is located east of and Bøla, but the technique used was more similar to the the watershed and the stream drains to the Hårkan, a tribuone used at Hell. The ears were drawn as separate segtary of the River Inndal in Jämtland. It is located in an exments, which, with the possible exception of the Bøla reintremely open landscape, undulating mountainous terrain deer, is a technique that does not occur in central Norway. without any trees. However, this small panel would be difThe most favoured comparisons, however, were between ficult to find for people who did not travel in the area more the smaller, ‘schematic’ images at Glösa, Evenhus and or less regularly. The Bøla and Horjem sites, together with Bogge (Hallström 1960, 76-77). The images at Bardal III Finnli, may have been located along a trail from Beitstadand Holte I are relevant to this question, too. However, my fjord via ‘Snåsafjord’ and Lierne to northern Jämtland. analysis of the Glösa images (Sognnes 2010) shows that


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway very few similarities actually exist in the ways these images were drawn (chapter 6).

The importance of these locales may, however, go much further back in time; the rock art may have been used to enhance the ambiance of these conspicuous features (Meighan 1981, 89).

It is above all the small scale of these images that forms the basis for these comparisons. Images dominating at Glösa were drawn with initial segments formed by a single straight or curved line (Figure 58). This is the case at Holte, too, whereas no such images are found at Evenhus, where the initial segments consist of a line marking at least the back, head and neck. The Evenhus images therefore have no relevance for this question. Most of the Bogge images were drawn following the same principles as at Evenhus, but for some images the artist(s) started with a single line. Most Norwegian examples where the artist(s) started with a single line have trunks drawn as half circles. This is the case for some Glösa images, too (Figure 58D), but here other geometrical shapes dominate. What is common is the initial single-line body segment, but even the shapes of these lines vary considerably between the sites in question. Contact between the makers of the rock carvings at Glösa, Bardal, Holte and Bogge may have existed, but above all I see these sites as expressing local, specialised ways of drawing cervids. The initial body segment of one of the Glösa images seems to form the entire outline of the animal’s head, neck and trunk (Figure 58A), and resembles the outline of a bird. This image may actually be compared with the initial segments of Figures 40C (without horns) and 46E.

Rock art marks the presence of people in a landscape, but this way of marking human presence apparently was not used by the pioneering Early Mesolithic (Fosna Industry) settlers. It is therefore unlikely that the Northern rock art in central Norway represents the ‘taming of the wild’ or domestication of the landscape, to paraphrase Hodder (1990) (but see Hesjedal 1994 for northern Norway). The permanency of rock art emphasises the temporal aspect, representing the presence of an unknown number of generations. Its role as a link between generations of people, between the present and the future, may have been important when the art was made, but I see its primary role as a link between the present and the past, embedding the landscape with ancestry and memories, which legitimised the use of the land. Gradually, the first rock art became more and more temporally remote and eventually would become part of a mythical past. The majority of Northern rock art sites in central Norway are located near the sea. The most important, but also mostly neglected, information these sites provide is that people arrived and left by boat. Some sites were apparently good hunting stations (Farbregd 1980) and some are located at places that mark the shortest crossing of a fjord or a lake. Elk, reindeer and red deer may have been killed while they were swimming and thus less capable of evading hunters. However, many sites do not appear to have been located at places especially favourable for hunting. Whales may, for instance, have been chased ashore on the Hammer and Evenhus beaches, but this does not explain the high frequency of elk images found at these sites.

Studying the locations of the Northern rock art on a regional level reveals that the distribution of the sites within the study area apparently is non-random. This may, however, be an illusion. Non-trained people have accidentally found most of the sites; the present distribution is not the result of systematic searches for rock art. Furthermore, there is a strong tendency for new discoveries to be made in the vicinity of known sites. We are dealing with a sample, the representativeness of which we cannot estimate. However, we can only base our study on what is known today, which in central Norway demonstrates a strong tendency towards clustering around Trondheimsfjord and Romsdalsfjord-Tingvollfjord, respectively, with some stray finds along the coast further north. This tendency is so strong that many new discoveries in the apparently void areas are necessary to make a significant change towards a more random overall distribution.

Sites like Hell, Søbstad and Strand give an esoteric appearance, being located at places where a few people only could come together in front of the panels. Around the sites at Hammer and Evenhus, on the other hand, much space is available for large audiences, and these sites may represent public places near aggregation sites where different groups or bands met (Sognnes 1994, 42-43). Most Mesolithic dwelling sites were located on the coast, while people, as evidenced by material culture, moved to the outer fjord region during the Neolithic (Sørensen 2008), which means that the Averøy sites were located at hunting sites rather than dwelling sites.

Site level After this presentation of the overall distribution, I turn to the site level, focusing on identifying different topographical features that may have been important for Stone Age people searching for suitable sites to make rock art. As will be demonstrated, some preferred locational factors are identifiable. Many Northern rock art sites are located at conspicuous topographical features, which can be easily spotted from a boat against a foreground of the horizontal sea surface. The pure existence of these features may have been one reason why rock art was made there. Their marking, whether by carvings or paintings, turned them into locales (Tilley 1994, 18), which, because of the rock art, we can identify today.

According to a semiotic hypothesis presented by Bouissac (1994b, 353), rock art at conspicuous topographical features may have been made by foragers using these features as a way of conveying information between distant migrating groups. As stated above, Northern rock art in central Norway appears to have been located at important places along major hunting trails. To a large extent, these migrations would have followed the waterways, sounds and fjords as well as rivers and lakes. This model can explain the choice of conspicuous topographical features for some rock art, whether carvings or paintings.


Locations To the east of Steinmohaugen, across the mouth of the Leksdal valley, Northern carvings were made on the large, steep-sided Tønsåsen ridge (Sognnes 1983). Five small panels have been identified near the hill foot on the western side of this crescent-shaped ridge. When the sea level was 30 m higher than today (immediately below the Lånke II panel), the ridge rose directly from the sea and formed an even more conspicuous topographical feature than it does today. The River Leksa flowed into Stjørdalsfjord to the south of Tønsåsen. The local topography indicates that this river ran along the hill foot shortly after the present plain had emerged from the sea. To the northeast, a stream, Krikbekken, also flowed into Stjørdalsfjord. The top of Tønsåsen offered a wide view over the central part of Trondheimsfjord, and still does, From the top, and also from the rock art panels, Steinmohaugen at Hell formed a smaller, yet distinct, topographical feature. Correspondingly, Tønsåsen is visible from Steinmohaugen. Figure 59 shows this topographical situaFigure 59. The Tønsåsen ridge at the mouth of the Stjørdal valley, with a shoretion at a sea level 30 m higher than today, line 30 m above present sea level. The Lånke panels are marked (after Sognnes which corresponds with the Early Neo1994a). lithic around 4500 BP (Sognnes 2003a, 197). The sea then reached the hill foot a Some sites, however, are not located at large, conspicufew metres below the lowermost panel (Lånke II). Due to ous features, for instance at Selset (Gjessing 1936, later erosion, the river and stream courses are shown Sognnes 2006), where the images were carved on a low, much wider on this modern map than they actually were seemingly insignificant rock outcrop. This outcrop is, during the Neolithic. however, located at a cove, which during the Neolithic was the only natural harbour where small boats or canoes The topographical situation at Søbstad is very similar to could be landed and sheltered from strong tidal currents Hell. Here, the rock carvings are located on the steepalong the narrow Skarnsundet, a sound between the mainsided Søbstadklubben hillock, facing a narrow fjord, with land and the then still existing island of Inderøy. many similar islets and hillocks. They were placed on smooth, glacially polished surfaces, contrasting with the Islets and hillocks coarse glacial striations that dominate most of the hillock. Motifs depicted are whales and some geometric designs During the Holocene, new islets continuously emerged (Møllenhus 1968a, Sognnes 1996a). The Rødsand carvfrom the sea, and many of them now form hillocks on ings on the same island are located at the foot of a large larger islands, or significant features on the mainland. red-coloured hill, hence the name of the farm, meaning One such hillock is Steinmohaugen at Hell, which today ‘red sand’. From the other side of Freifjord, this hill looks is linked to its hinterland by a narrow ridge, the top of like a cone rising from the sea. which is around 40 m above sea level. In the Late Mesolithic, before 5500 BP (Sognnes 2003a, 197), SteinmoThe 300 m high, steep-sided island of Rødøya at the haugen formed a steep-sided islet separated from the mouth of Vefsnfjord is yet another conspicuous topomainland by a 200 m wide, shallow sound. The carvings graphical feature; its height and striking red colour (the were located on the southwestern side of this islet, on the name meaning ‘the red island’) make it stand out relative only surface that apparently was suitable for making rock to other islands in the area. art. Today, a similar islet exists some hundred metres to the west, which, due to the wide plain formed by the sea, Headlands can be identified from both sides of Trondheimsfjord even though it is no more than 20 m high, with a diameter Few sites are located on headlands facing the sea or one of around 60 m. For centuries, Steinmohaugen formed a of the many lakes. The Gjølga [Rauhammerfjellet] distinct topographical feature visible to people paddling and Varghiet [Almfjellet] sites fall directly into Gjølga in the central part of the fjord.


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway northwesterly winds generate waves which splash high up the cliffs. Originally, the paintings were closer to the shore, on panels facing the sea. Rock shelters Honnhammar I is located under a shallow rock shelter on top of another vertical cliff, the narrow ledge in front of the panel sloping downwards. This shelter thus could not be used for dwelling. The Nerhol panels, too, are located under narrow rock overhangs. Nerhol II is high up on a vertical cliff emerging directly from the riverbed. The overhang is shallow and provides no real protection for the sole elk painting found there (Figure 58). In the less conspicuous Nerhol I rock shelter, the paintings get some protection from the overhanging rock, but the shelter alone provides no suitable space for a dwelling. However, a small dwelling could be constructed using the sheltered wall as the back wall. So far this hypothesis has not been tested archaeologically. The Heggvik site, too, may be seen as a shallow rock shelter, but the overhang at this panel is so narrow that it gives no protection to the fragmentary images that still exist on the panel below. The largest rock shelter in central Norway decorated with rock art is the Sandhalsen shelter at Vasstrand (T. Petersen 1932; Gjessing 1936; Sognnes 2015), which actually consists of two interconnected shelters. Remains of paintings are found in both shelters, but all except one image are in the larger shelter where an up to 70 cm layer with occupation deposits was found during the excavation by Th. Petersen (1932). No datable artefacts were found during this excavation, which, however, demonstrated the existence of charcoal among the deposits. Petersen collected some samples, but their locations can no longer be identified. The existence of charcoal in this layer, however, led to a new excavation in 1993 to obtain a systematic series of datable samples (Sognnes 2015). Radiometric dates obtained from these samples will be discussed in chapter 6. The painted images found under the Sandhalsen shelters are fragmentary, but at least one elk and parts of a possible whale can be identified, as well as some geometric patterns that might be identified as boat images probably belonging to a Southern Scandinavian tradition type (Gjessing 1936). During the 1993 excavation, we realised that two carved horizontal lines identified by Petersen were part of a Northern tradition boat image (Sognnes 1994a). Petersen found that some other lines resembled parts of an animal, probably an elk’s head. Myrholt (2007) later identified these lines as part of a large bird. Fragments of a carved whale are found in front of the boat (Lindgaard 2009).

Figure 60. T. Petersen documenting the Varghiet I panel in Bjugn in 1928 (© NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet).

(Figure 61), but when the water level of this lake is low a narrow shelf formed of scree appears below the panels. At Honnhammar, two sites, each containing several panels, are found on the Honnhammarneset and Hinna headlands, respectively (Gjessing 1936). Most Honnhammar panels lack any overhanging rocks protecting the paintings, which Hallström (1938, 395) claimed to be unique for this site. The situation is, however, similar for most rock paintings in central Norway. On the southern Hinna headland, Hallström (1938) found two panels (one of which I have reclassified as four panels). Gjessing and Hallström knew of only one panel on the northern Honnhammarneset headland, but about ten more panels have now been identified there (Smiseth 2007; Linge 2014; Nash and Smiseth 2015). The Honnhammar headlands face the almost 2 km wide Tingvollfjord (Figure 56), which may become quite rough, especially when

Some coastal caves mostly decorated with anthropomorphic images may be added to these rock shelters. As stated above (chapter 1), I consider all these cave paintings to represent a separate rock art tradition.


Locations Raised beaches The still ongoing land uplift transforms former seabed and littoral zones into dry land. Raised beaches and terrace fronts are now found up to around 200 m above sea level in the inner Trondheimsfjord area (Figure 54). Stone Age dwelling sites were frequently located on these features when they were still close to the shore (e.g. Marstrander 1954; Pettersen 2005). Some of these features are still virtually intact, whereas others have been altered by later erosion. This is most evident in the lower, gently sloping valleys along Trondheimsfjord (e.g. Sveian 1995; Sveian and Solli 1997a; Sognnes 2001a) with horizontal erosion caused by river meandering and vertical erosion caused by the land uplift. However, few Northern rock art sites are located in these valleys. They are at Hell and Lånke in Stjørdal and Berg in Verdal. Except for Nerhol and Finnli, which are located above the Late Glacial marine limit, all such sites are situated along present-day or former fjords and sounds, where, in principle, the land uplift may provide maximum dates for the sites and panels in question (e.g. Sognnes 2012). During the Early Holocene, when the Scandinavian ice cap melted and retreated, enormous amounts of sand, silt and clay were deposited at various depths in the sea along the coast and in the fjords. Due to the later land uplift, the upper parts of these deposits form most of the current as well as the historic and prehistoric cultivated land. During this land uplift, small and large beaches were affected by erosion caused by tides and currents, and series of beach bars formed on gently sloping beaches. This is illustrated in Figure 61A, which shows two different sea levels (1 and 2) with contemporary bars. To keep immediate proximity to the sea, people living close to the shoreline had to move their settlements (in this case from a to b) more or less continuously, depending on the rate of the land uplift.

Figure 61. The relationship between changing raised shorelines and maritime deposits on a gently sloping bottom with beach bars (A) and eroded terraces (B). a and b represent contemporary settlement sites; 1 and 2 sea levels contemporary with a and b, respectively (after Sognnes 1975).

Some Northern rock art in central Norway is on stones and boulders on beaches like this, at Bjørset, Sylte, Rein and Reppen, probably at Ervik, too. In some of these instances, the carvings were not found until after the boulders had been removed from their original locations, thus making it difficult to study their original settings. The Ervik stone is known from an oral account only, and the exact location of the Sylte boulder (Kleiva 1999) remains unknown. It was found on the present seashore, but most probably had been moved from the centre of the small town of Surnadal, on land belonging to Sylte Farm. The original location of the Rein boulder was still known when the carvings were discovered (Gaustad 1976), and the Reppen boulder (Sognnes 1981c) was still at its original site, although tilted while waiting to be blasted.

Figure 61B illustrates a different situation. The land uplift is the same, but the local topography is different. The original settlement (a) was located at the edge of a terrace with a steeply sloping front. When this front reached the tidal zone, the sea started eroding and the front gradually retreated, in this case from a to b. During this process, settlement a associated with sea level 1 was destroyed, what was left of it being washed away by the waves. A later settlement (b) at the front of the terrace could not be located at the contemporary sea level, but at a higher level (0). Theoretically, this site could be located on an older settlement pre-dating settlement a. Due to the steep front of the terrace combined with wave action no settlement could be located close to sea level 2.

Mostly whales were carved on the Reppen boulder, but there is one fish and a small elk. Elk are represented on the Rein boulder, too, along with a stick-line anthropomorph and zigzags. The Sylte boulder has two similar anthropomorphs together with a triangular geometric design, and several lines were added after the boulder was placed on the shore. Today, this boulder is at Surnadal Municipal Museum. The Reppen boulder is in the village of Salsneset, and the Rein boulder is at the University Museum in Trondheim.

When a transgression starts, wave action on shores, which during regression builds up a series of beach bars, becomes different from the situation shown in Figure 61A. The sea will start eroding these earlier deposits, moving the shoreline back, similarly to the situation shown in Figure 61B.


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway The two Bjørset boulders still lie in situ near the inner end of a raised beach (Figure 62). When these boulders were discovered, they were partly covered by deposits believed to represent the Tapes transgression (T. Petersen 1939). This has not been confirmed later. Current land uplift curves do not show any transgression in this area. Rather, the deposits may represent a beach bar built during an exceptionally high tide (Ramstad 2000). The boulders might, however, have been partially covered by a small landslide. Unfortunately, most of the deposits were removed during the first investigation of the boulders. Two apparent whales seem to be depicted on the Bjørset II boulder, while the Bjørset I boulder is decorated with an intricate geometric pattern consisting of lines and cupules (Kleiva 2006). These and other boulders emerged from the sea as patches of rocks on land that otherwise consists of sand and gravel. As such, they represent anomalies on otherwise even plains and can be compared with some low, carved outcrops at Hammer. At Heggvik, the paintings are now on the inner edge of a narrow terrace that must originally have been wider, the outer part being disturbed by erosion. At Mølnargården, the ancient foreshore is far better preserved, the vertical, decorated cliff being located around 800 m from the present forefront of a gently sloping ancient beach around 200 m from the present shore. This forefront must have been eroded too, but this erosion would have stopped around 5500 BP, when the sea no longer reached the lower part of the foresets.

Figure 62. The Bjørset boulders in Molde (photo F. Gaustad 1968, © NTNU Museum).

traditions; most panels, however, contain images belonging to either one of these traditions. Marine deposits apparently covering Hammer VI and partly Hammer V and VII have been used as an argument in favour of shoreline dating of Northern rock art in general and for dating these specific panels to the Late Mesolithic (Bakka 1975). This question will be further discussed in chapter 6. Northern motifs at Hammer are elk, whales, boats and some anthropomorphs. The site is, however, above all characterised by images depicting birds, most of which are found on Hammer V, the largest of the Hammer panels.

Hammer and Evenhus, too, are located at the inner end of wide, raised beaches. Due to their locations and the large number of carvings, these sites play especially important roles for the interpretation of Northern rock art in this region. The Evenhus site, which is situated near the end of the Frosta peninsula, virtually in the middle of Trondheimsfjord, has been known since 1917 (T. Petersen 1922; 1926; Gjessing 1936). The panels are on outcrops at both sides of a narrow cleft facing the sea, which today is about a kilometre to the south across gently sloping, cultivated land. They are dominated by cervids, but whales and boats form a large percentage of the images. During the Neolithic, the outer part of the Frosta peninsula still formed an island separated from the mainland by a shallow sound (Sognnes 1994, 42).

The Bardal site apparently belongs to the same category. In front of the large Bardal I panel, which has been known since the middle of the 1890s, is a gently sloping terrace that ends in a steep slope just southwest of the panel. This slope separates the upper terrace from the gently sloping plain below, which is around 2 km long before it reaches the current shore. It continues under water for about another kilometre.

The topographical situation was different at Hammer, where the raised beach forms an isthmus-like land bridge connecting a former low island to the mainland. This land bridge slopes in two directions. This former beach is cultivated, too. The first panel with carvings, Hammer I, was discovered more than a century ago (K. Rygh 1909; Gjessing 1936). Today, around 20 panels are known, most of which are located at the hill foot, like Hammer I (Bakka and Gaustad 1975; Bakka 1988). Panels are, however, located on a rock outcrop in the middle of the cultivated land. Two panels are found in the bed of a stream crossing the field. Some panels show a mixture of motifs associated with both Scandinavian rock art

Both Scandinavian rock art traditions are represented at Bardal I, but the majority of the around 360 carvings belong to the Southern tradition (Lossius 1896; Gjessing 1935; 1936; Hallström 1938). Around 50 Northern carvings are found. Motifs and different degrees of weathering indicate the existence of several phases, representing a very long period of rock art making. This, combined with many superimpositions, apparently gives this panel a unique position in Europe. Most Northern carvings depict cervids, but anthropomorphs, birds, geometric designs and a large whale are present, too.



Figure 63. The location of the Finnli carving in Lierne (author’s photo 2002).

Close to the panel, a steep slope, which is about 10 m high, probably represents the foreset beds of an ancient delta built up by meltwater during the Early Holocene retreat of the large glacier, which left a series of moraine ridges in this area (Sveian and Solli 1997b, 121). Due to later erosion, this terrace is now considerably smaller than it was originally, but it has probably remained more or less the same since wave erosion stopped 5500-5000 BP.

would have eroded the terrace, not deposited material on it. Vogt’s interpretation that the stony deposits fell from above seems more plausible. An analogous situation may be found at Hammer, where Hammer I is located at the inner end of a narrow terrace (K. Rygh 1909; Gjessing 1936) over which a modern road has been constructed. Today, it is not possible to decide whether this terrace consists of marine deposits or is formed by a rock ledge.

Some panels are located at the inner end of ancient terraces that must have been subject to erosion, like at Heggvik mentioned above. The situation seems to be similar at Strand. Due to excavation for gravel and sand during road construction close by (this work led to the discovery of the site), we do not, unfortunately, know the extent and shape of the original terrace. Gjessing (1936, 21) believed that marine deposits covered the lower carvings during a transgression. However, modern land uplift curves do not show a Holocene transgression in this area and a rising sea level would normally erode existing terraces. Gjessing’s interpretation should also be questioned because Vogt (1929), a geologist who first investigated the site, identified the covering deposits as scree.

Currents and rivers Some coastal sites are located on sounds leading from fjord basins to the North Atlantic, for instance Reiten and Rødsand. The Rødøya site belongs to this category, too, facing a narrow sound between two islands at the mouth of Vefsnfjord. The Selset site is of special interest in this context (Th. Petersen 1931c; Gjessing 1936; Sognnes 2006). It is in Kvennavika, a cove which during the Stone Age, formed a natural harbour at Skarnsundet, the sound linking the Beitstadfjord and Strindfjord basins. Until the Bronze Age, the Inderøy peninsula, east of this sound, was an island to the east of which was another sound with strong tidal currents, especially at the northern end where there were several small islands (Stafseth 2006). Some fragmentary rock carvings are found at Gangstad, on the west side of this sound. Unfortunately, they are strongly weathered and only the remains of some images have been identified. However, some curved lines resembling animal legs indicate that cervids were depicted.

Hallström (1938, 218), who never visited this site, questioned Gjessing’s interpretation, suggesting that the carvings were made in front of a shallow beach. He believed they were made during a regression, not a transgression as suggested by Gjessing. As I see it, there is no evidence for any gently sloping beach in front of this panel at relevant altitudes. I find it most unlikely that the deposits covering the terrace and the lower part of the panel were brought there during a transgression; the transgression

While the majority of Northern sites in northern Norway are situated near ancient shorelines, most sites in northern


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway Sweden are found along rivers and lakes, frequently at rapids and small waterfalls. Similar locations are known from central Norway, too. Nerhol (Figure 57) has already been mentioned. It is on the northern bank of the Driva, where the river begins to descend steeply towards the lower Sunndal valley.

study every panel in detail for this work either. Many sites and panels are now covered by lichen and/or moss. However, Gjessing (1936, 104) observed that the Hell carvings were placed on the most suitable part of the strongly weathered Steinmohaugen hillock, where rock carvings could be preserved until today. Correspondingly, he noted that the Strand carvings were located on a pocket of fine-grained, green amphibolite in coarser, pale yellowish granite (Gjessing 1936, 17).

Some years ago, a small rock carving probably depicting an elk was found on the west bank of the river linking the upper and lower Nytjønna, two small lakes at Finnli near the Swedish border about 600 m above sea level on an outcrop sloping gently towards a less than 1 m high waterfall (Sognnes 2003b) (Figure 63). This carving is inundated when the snow is melting and during heavy rain.

The panels vary greatly in size and shape, and also in the number of images and motifs present, and the way the images were drawn and executed. Many panels are grouped into larger sites, while some remain in splendid isolation, like the Bøla reindeer did until recently.

The most important river site, however, is Bøla, where the Bøla I-VI panels are located on the upper part of the lowermost waterfall on the Bøla shortly before its steep descent towards Snåsavatnet. Above this waterfall, the river forms a landscape anomaly, flowing unnaturally in an S-shaped channel crossing a low ridge. This channel ends in a low cascade in front of the Bøla reindeer (Bøla I). Bøla II is on an outcrop in the middle of this cascade. Bøla IV and V are on the right-hand bank, Bøla IV shortly before the river enters the lower part of the waterfall, Bøla V across the river from Bøla II and Bøla VI on a gently sloping panel near Bøla I. Bøla III is around 50 m upstream from the other panels, where a low threshold causes this panel to be inundated during heavy rain. Except for Bøla I, the panels and images are strongly weathered (Sognnes 2011). The back part of the Bøla reindeer also used to be inundated, but the two small channels are now blocked. During extreme rain and snow melting, the upper cascade may become more than 30 m wide, completely concealing the carvings. Only Bøla IV and V remain dry.

A series of dichotomies apparently exists. To a large extent, these dichotomies co-occur; the Bardal I and Finnli panels represent the two most extreme opposites. The large, steeply sloping Bardal panel contains around fifty Northern tradition carvings, the larger ones being life size depictions of elk, while the gently sloping Finnli panel contains only one little elk image. Most of the larger images are found on vertical or steep-sided panels, like at Stykket, Bøla and Hell. These panels contain few images, Bardal I being the main exception to this rule. The nearly vertical Stykket panel has five images, while more than 100 images have been identified on the nearly horizontal Holte I panel, which is virtually the same size as Stykket. In this case, there is a dualism in style, too, the panels belonging to Gjessing’s styles I and III, respectively. We also find distinct differences in visuality. To some extent this is due to the location of the images, whether they are found in ‘open’ or ‘closed’ landscapes. The main differences depend, however, on how the images were made, for instance how deeply they were carved or how they were painted. To this, of course, should be added the erosion and weathering that has taken place since the images were made. The composition and quality of the rocks clearly influence the effect of these processes.

Even though the Bøla panels are located around and partly within a waterfall, the site has been treated as being located on the seashore, which it really was at one time. For thousands of years, the current Snåsavatn lake formed the inner part of Trondheimsfjord, but in a local topographic perspective there should be no doubt that we are dealing here with a river site, the carvings being situated at, and even within, a waterfall. The relevance of this claim can be demonstrated by Figure 53. This photograph was taken from Bøla IV towards the upper waterfall when the water level was average. Bøla II is still visible in the middle of the upper left cascade, while Bøla I is located at the left edge of the photograph.

Hyperimages The concept of hyperimages was recently introduced to rock art studies (Helvenston and Hodgson 2010), although the phenomenon as such has been known for a long time. The term is used for natural features with anthropomorphic or zoomorphic appearances. In Norway, the most frequent hyperimages appear to be cliffs and rock formations which, seen from a certain distance and angle, resemble a human head. Slinning (2005) demonstrated a special relationship between hyperimages and rock paintings in central southern Norway. This coexistence is quite common in Finland (Lahelma 2008), whereas few hyperimages have been identified in central Norway. However, seen from certain angles, the Honnhammar I outcrop may look like a human head (Gjessing 1936; Kleiva 2006). Recently, Linge (2014) noted the existence of a structure resembling an animal head below the paintings and another similar, but less distinct, structure on the panel itself.

Panel level Until recently, the panels per se aroused little interest in Norwegian rock art research (Gjerde 2010, 404). Unlike for instance in Valcamonica, northern Italy (e.g. Sansoni 1987), the state of the panels and rock outcrops was scarcely described and no plans or profiles were drawn. A major exception is Helskog’s (2012a) recent work in Alta, but the focus is still, in general, on the images, although with stronger emphasis on visible and invisible damage to the rock surface. It has not been possible to


Locations When the water in the River Bøla is at a certain level, rock structures seem to form the front of a bear’s head immediately above Bøla II when seen from some distance. That this head is best seen when there is a certain amount of water in the waterfall emphasises the role perception plays in identifying hyperimages and rock images.

ern Norway with ‘naturalistic’ carvings, like Valle, Sagelva and Åmnes (Gjessing 1936; Sognnes 2012). Geological structures The Bardal I panel is divided by numerous cracks in different directions and inclinations. Occasionally, where three cracks meet blocks have fallen from the rock, but none of them are known to exist today. Two rows of eyelike grooves (Figure 64) have been noted previously (Lossius 1896; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938). These grooves make it easier to climb the rock, and Gjessing (1936, 31) described them as looking like man-made steps, being almost regularly distributed across the surface. He did, however, recognise them as natural features, which existed before the first carvings were made. Hallström (1938: 285) noticed that they formed a horizontal, V-shaped band across the panel. Seen from a distance, this band forms an arrow pointing towards the panel’s lower southwest edge, above which we find the remains of at least four large, ‘naturalistically’ drawn elk.

From a methodological point of view, the identification of hyperimages raises some important questions. We may identify features resembling anthropomorphs and/or zoomorphs today, but we cannot be sure that Stone Age people saw these features in the same way. At Bøla II, for instance, the structures of the current bear ‘face’ are caused by cracks and fallen blocks (Figure 96). During the Stone Age, this outcrop may not have looked like it does today. Hyperimages may be shaped by blocks falling off cliffs, which could happen at any time during the Holocene, although the majority would have fallen shortly after the glaciers retreated and there was no longer ice pressure on the rocks. Hyperimages that existed when rock art was made may have disappeared today. However, the door-like structure framing the Heggvik panel has clearly been the same since the end of the Pleistocene.

If we accept Gjessing and Hallström’s claims that the large ‘naturalistic’ images are the earlier ones, the making of carvings at Bardal started immediately above the spot where the two rows of eye-like grooves meet. The upper edge of the grooves is often marked by a curved quartz vein and under certain light conditions the groves look like real eyes on the rock. This is a most peculiar situation; spectators are looking at rock that apparently looks back!

Myrholt (2007) searched for possible anthropomorphic and zoomorphic metaphors in the local topography surrounding Northern rock art panels in central and northern Norway. In his Mesolithic horizon, he found that silhouettes at or near the sites were associated with the shape of whales. At Valle and Sagelva in Nordland, these silhouettes were repeated on outcrops without carvings, too. At Rødsand, Bardal and Bogge, he found parts of panels and other geological structures that resemble a whale trunk and that the Bardal I panel is shaped like a whale. He also found whale metaphors at the Neolithic horizon at Vasstrand, Teksdal I and Strand. The Sandhalsen promontory, where the Vasstrand paintings are located, he regarded as the best macro-scale example of the whale metaphor in central Norway (Myrholt 2007, 13-15). Myrholt observed that many of the later sites were located at places where a horizontal rock shelf meets a vertical cliff. They were either on the horizontal rock, for instance at Holte, or the lower part of the vertical cliff as at Varghiet. At Honnhammaren, the alternation between vertical and horizontal planes is repeated many times in the step-like terrain (Myrholt 2007, 18-19).

Eventually, Northern images were made virtually everywhere on this panel. Unfortunately, most of these images are now so fragmented that they can neither be identified nor classified, although most of them may depict elk. However, parts of the panel seem to have been reserved for some special images, a large whale at the upper central edge and anthropomorphs and birds in the lower central part. Stylistically (large and ‘naturalistic’), the whale may be compared to the larger elk (Gjessing 1936, 161; Hallström 1938, 314-15). Some smaller animals apparently are superimposed on this image. Although the lines are strongly weathered, the large elk are among the bestpreserved zoomorphic images today; originally the lines of these images probably were deeper and from the very beginning these images remained the visual focal point at the panel.

At Søbstad (Møllenhus 1968a; Sognnes 1996a), the surfaces of the two main panels, which were polished by the ice, show hardly any glacial striations. These panels, on which the images (mostly whales) were carved, are not truly vertical, they consist of alternating concave and convex parts, which give the rock a wave-like appearance. If we search for metaphorical expressions, we may see these panels as representing a vertical sea in ‘frozen motion’ with carved, swimming whales, not unlike a modern aquarium. The frozen sea metaphor, but in horizontal versions, seems relevant for several sites in north-

Compared for instance with the Selset panel, the sheer size of Bardal I makes the panel impose itself on the spectators. It is a panel to be seen from the flat ground in front of the outcrop. On top of the panel is a gently sloping shelf which may have functioned as a large rostrum and a stage for performances of many kinds. This will be discussed in chapter 7. Here, I note that the size and location of some rock art sites almost immediately leads to reflections and interpretations based on presence, on meetings between humans, the rock and the images carved on the rock.


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway

Figure 64. Rock ’eyes’ at Bardal I in Steinkjer (author’s photo 2008).

As mentioned above, the glacially polished, carved panels at Søbstad contrast with the surrounding rock with its coarse glacial striations. The undulating, vertical panels furthermore mark out these panels as something special. The Stykket panel stands out in a similar way. I have earlier emphasised the location of rock art on hillocks. Many of these near vertical panels are at the foot of the hillock, for instance at Rødsand and Bardal, and the Varghiet and Gjølga panels should also be seen from this perspective. On a smaller scale, we may include Hammer I, Strand and Søbstad. The Lånke panels are located at the foot of the Tønsåsen ridge, but are spread over a wider area on more gently sloping rock.

tions might have been sources for the pigments used for the paintings. At the Honnhammarneset headland, natural red patches still cover most parts of several rock faces. At Honnhammar III, the main panel on this headland, red patches cover large parts of this tall, vertical panel (Linge 2014, 29). Based on his studies of rock paintings in Telemark, south Norway, Michelsen (1983) claimed that they were not real paintings, but were made by scraping off superfluous natural pigment from the rock surface. He found the same situation at Honnhammar III (Michelsen 1992). As stated above, it was recently discovered that paintings on this panel were made in two shades of red, a pale, vertical band of zigzags being superimposed by two fish (Smiseth 2007). Scholars have focused on the fish, with the exception of the Finnish artist Kivikäs (2009, 87), who also documented the red patches; however, he did not notice the zigzag band. The vertical band of zigzags, however, seems partly to be covered by patches of a darker red shade. Michelsen’s hypothesis has not been generally accepted, but at Honnhammaren pigment scraped off the rock may have been reused in the paint used to enhance the original images and/or to make new ones. Since parts of the vertical zigzag band seem to be covered by the concretions (Linge 2014), these may actually be later than the images and be the result of human activity. Removal of pigments may at least partly have been used to make the elk image at Nerhol I (Figure 5). The surface between the lines forming this image differs macroscopically from the surface outside these lines; the rock pores containing a large quantity of natural red pigment.

Natural pigmentation As demonstrated by the many rock paintings, red must have been a very important colour. Images painted on rocks that are exposed to harsh weather for thousands of years would probably have disappeared a long time ago. At several sites, the paintings are pale and fragmentary. The current distribution probably represents just a small fraction of what once existed (Gjessing 1936, 181; Hagen 1976, 133). However, many yet undiscovered sites may still exist, which might be revealed by systematic searches based on the knowledge we now have about the location of rock paintings in northern Scandinavia and Finland (Viklund 1999; Kivikäs 2003, 2009; Lahelma 2008). This has been the case at Honnhammaren (Linge 2014). Cliffs more or less covered with red concretions stand out as anomalies among otherwise grey rocks. These concre-



Figure 65. The Vistnesdalen i Vevelstad panels are located on two small outcrops consisting of serpentinite within a large settlement site (© NTNU Museum).

the district into a number of potential territories that were exploited by local groups of foragers. A cluster of rock art sites is located at the mouth of Vefsnfjord (Sognnes 1985; 1989), where 3 or 4 of Pettersen’s hypothetical territories meet.

Habitations and killing sites So far, I have looked at different kinds of topographical features and their possible importance for the location of rock art. Some sites seem to be located away from habitation, while others seem to have been directly associated with settlement sites. What came first, rock art or dwellings, is difficult to decide, but it seems reasonable to include habitations among the relevant locational factors for rock art. However, in general, a possible relationship between rock art and habitation or dwellings has been ignored, partly because possible dwelling sites rarely have been searched for along the fjords where most rock art sites are located.

The Vistnesdalen site (Figure 66), which belongs to this cluster, is on the south side of the fjord. The carvings are on two serpentinite outcrops on an undulating plain that was protected from the sea by several low hillocks, apparently within a large habitation area, when the sea level was higher (Wik 1984). This seems to be the case for the slab from Remmen, Leirfjord, too (Sognnes 1985). Excavations have not been carried out at either of these sites.

At many locations, searching for dwelling sites close to rock art seems futile. This, for instance, is the case at Stykket, where the carvings are close to a road on a narrow shelf on the steeply sloping hillside. This road may have replaced an old path, but there was no space for habitation other than small, temporary bivouacs. Some metres above the rock art is a series of shallow rock shelters, the floors of which are now covered by stones fallen from the roof. Dwellings are also unlikely to have been located at sites like Rødsand, Søbstad and Honnhammaren. However, places suitable for dwellings are available near the carvings at Selset, Evenhus, Bardal and Hammer, and they also have landing places for small boats.

At some sites, we may claim that a close relationship exists between rock art and places where prey was fairly easy to catch; cervids, for instance, are known for their annual migrations following the trails of their ancestors. Stone Age hunters clearly knew about these migrations and the trails followed by the animals and could predict roughly where and when to expect the seasonal arrivals of the animals. The Bøla reindeer may be seen as a reminder of herds of reindeer migrating down to ‘Snåsafjord’ in winter. Reindeer still migrate down to this lake, but today the animals are domesticated. The waterfall and steep slope further down towards the water further emphasise the importance of Bøla as a possible killing site. Animals may have been chased down this steep, stony slope or were hunted while swimming across the fjord, being more vulnerable for pursuit by hunters using boats. The rock art thus could mark the transition from land to sea and vice versa. Stykket may be

Rock art is rarely taken into consideration in attempts to reconstruct Stone Age settlement patterns, and suggested migration routes rarely include rock art sites. The relevance of including rock art in migration models can be demonstrated by studies from the Helgeland district. Pettersen (1985), who studied the Late Stone Age, divided


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway interpreted similarly, but here the fjord crossing is longer and thus more dangerous.

groups and individuals to find their way to these sanctuaries.

Many sites containing whale images are located near beaches where whales may accidentally become stranded or be chased ashore by people. This might be the case, for instance, at Evenhus and Reppen. In view of the date suggested by Bakka (1975) for the upper Hammer panels, it could be the case for this site, too. The present raised beach at Søbstad, however, did not emerge until the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age.

A strong tendency for dichotomies can be identified. All known sites with paintings are found on vertical or almost vertical surfaces, as are many carvings. This holds true for some ‘naturalistic’ images, like Bøla and Stykket, but not for those at Bogge and Berg. In general, just a few such images are found at such places. A second class consists of near horizontal and gently sloping surfaces. Some of these panels may contain a substantial number of carvings, Holte I being the most extreme example. The contrast between this panel and Stykket is striking. These panels are virtually the same size, but at Stykket we find five images, at Holte one hundred. Hammer V and Evenhus V, with their many carvings, are on relatively gently sloping surfaces, too. Overall it seems that steep panels contain few images, while horizontal and gently sloping panels may contain a large number of images.

The birds at Horjem, at the inner end of ‘Snåsafjord’, may mark an important staging post for birds migrating in spring and autumn, as it is today. On a smaller scale, this may have been the situation at Hammer, too. The Selset fish are in an important area for flounder fishing (Mork 2000), but this takes place seawards of Skarnsundet nowadays.

Many panels present themselves as anomalies relative to the surrounding rock surfaces, which were often unsuitable for making images that were meant to last. Normally, these anomalies can be identified at the panel level, like the special qualities of the Søbstad and Heggvik panels. To some extent, this is the case for the Bøla I and II panels, too. To these qualities of the panels should be added the situation that they are located on a waterfall and that the River Bøla has an unnatural course at this particular site, flowing up on the hillside, not on the valley floor. This site thus represents an anomaly at several levels (Sognnes 2011).

To sum up, we find that many rock art sites in central Norway may have been located at important hunting sites, whether for reindeer, elk, birds or whales. However, due to the still on-going land uplift it is difficult to transfer our current observations to the Neolithic and Late Mesolithic, when the topography above as well as below sea level differed greatly from that of today. Before following this line of thinking, we must also study the past vegetation, as was done by Hafsten (1987). Conclusions The location of the Northern rock art in central Norway has been studied from micro to macro levels, although with different intensity and quality. Seen together, these studies should provide new perspectives on the rock art. It is, however, unlikely that we will be able to identify locational factors that are identical for all sites in northern Scandinavia. Vertical cliffs are unusual in the extensive coniferous forests in the low relief landscape of northern Sweden. Similar cliffs are abundant in the coastscapes and fjordscapes of Norway; in general, no one would stop and wonder about these cliffs unless they represent something special.

In many cases, the choice of location would depend on the presence of suitable fine-grained rock surfaces. Today we cannot say anything for certain; weathering processes have altered the surfaces differently depending on the structure and texture of the bedrock in question. However, when the rock art was made, weathering had already been active for thousands of years and in many cases the capacity for each rock type to resist weathering must have been visible and taken into consideration by the makers of the images. If we study the three locational levels together we should be able to get closer to understanding where and why the rock art was placed within the landscape. We may find that the location of the sites was chosen randomly, but when one panel was carved or painted, others would probably follow. We may also get closer to understanding the basic choices made by Stone Age people when they decided to illustrate certain aspects of their lives on rocks.

I have demonstrated above that many Northern rock art sites in central Norway and elsewhere in northern Norway were located at conspicuous topographical features. Many sites face the sea and were probably approached by people arriving in boats. Like in most of Norway, the central Norwegian coast with its myriad of islands separated by wide and narrow sounds and fjords cutting deep into the landmass constitutes a large part of the currently settled land. During the Stone Age and all later periods until the middle of the twentieth century, the sea was the major traffic artery. This, together with the motifs represented, makes it reasonable to hypothesise that Northern rock art marks sanctuaries and places to visit along major migration routes used by foragers during the Stone Age and probably the Early Bronze Age as well. Making carvings and paintings at conspicuous topographical features may have helped bands, family

Large, conspicuous, topographical features can be seen from far away and are thus an aid for finding your way through the landscape. For instance, the general location of the Rødsand site can be identified from the sea when you see the hill above the panel forming a nearly conical top. You would then land the boat and walk across the rocky shelf more or less straight towards the panel. This was, in fact, how the panel was discovered. The finder, who grew up on Rødsand Farm, had visited the nearby


Locations Søbstad site for the first time the day before. While fishing from a boat in the sound off the site, she noticed some striking similarities in the topographical setting (although different in scale) between these two places, landed the boat, went ashore and walked straight up to the hitherto unknown carvings.

looked for it. For example, the Tønsåsen ridge with the Lånke site and the former island where Evenhus is located can be seen from the Steinmohaugen hillock with the Hell site. We may ask what the ‘eyes’ at Bardal I were looking at, and if the ‘door’ with the Heggvik paintings was opened, what would those living in the underworld behind that door see? Many more questions may indeed be asked.

Unfortunately, in general, the landscape level has not been studied and described in the same way as the site and panel levels; in fact, we may find descriptions of rock art topography on both site and panel levels to be inadequate as well.

Thus, not only images and panels but also the surrounding topography should be taken into consideration when interpreting rock art. To some extent, Norwegian scholars have done this as part of the dating discourse, focusing on changes caused by the Holocene land uplift. Most Northern rock art sites in Norway are in areas that were covered by the sea during the Early Holocene, which means that the land has changed considerably since the rock art was made. This makes our landscape reconstructions difficult, but not impossible.

So far I have dealt with how we find and observe the rock art, our visions towards the rock art. We should, however, also study visions from the panels; some panels obviously are facing one or more conspicuous topographical features. This might be a lake, a bay, an island, a hilltop or a mountain. Whether these visions had any influence on the location of the rock art we do not know before we have



found in southern Scandinavia. In northern Scandinavia, this material culture is mostly represented by stray finds. Within the study area, the material culture is a mixture of Southern and Northern tradition elements. It is, however, dominated by artefacts belonging to the so-called slate industry or complex, previously referred to as the Arctic Stone Age (e.g. Brøgger 1909). Until recently, chronologies relevant for this industry have been cursory.

Dating methods Methods for direct dating of rock art have been tested in many parts of the world, but so far none have been found universally reliable. Radiocarbon dating is an independent method, but can be used for organic matter only; this is sometimes found in cave paintings (e.g. GRAPPE 1993; Bahn 2003; 2012). In theory, it is possible to find and extract organic matter in the pores of weathered rocks, which may provide minimum dates for the making of the images in question, for instance in the relatively deep pores in the polished furrows of the ‘naturalistic’ Nordland carvings (see below).

A few slate artefacts, mostly arrowheads, could be dated by their occurrence at dwelling sites in south Norway, even Denmark, which provided a clue to the dating of the phase(s) when these artefacts were spread over large parts of Scandinavia, but they did not necessarily date the entire use of slate artefacts within its core area in northern Scandinavia. These dates tended to fall within the southern Scandinavian Middle Neolithic, that is, 52004400 BP (Bakka 1964; Bjerck 2008).

Most dating methods are based on assumptions that are seldom questioned and, as I see it, the proposed chronological sequences are to a large extent based on circular arguments. Whether the theoretical background for these sequences is reliable is seldom questioned. Chronologies proposed for Scandinavian rock art arguably depend on how researchers have viewed it relative to the general development in the material culture.

Hagen (1976) and Mikkelsen (1977a) summed up the methods used for dating rock art in Norway, most of which were based on comparisons. They were as follows: (1) rock images were compared with carved images found on dated artefacts, (2) datable artefacts were identified among rock imagery, (3) images occurring together on the rocks were thought to be contemporary, (4) stratigraphic studies of superimposition, (5) horizontal stratigraphy, studying the relative locations of images on the panels, (6) style dating, sorting images according to styles within a suggested evolutionary framework, (7) shoreline dating, mostly by means of the Holocene land uplift relative to the sea, occasionally on changes in the surface level of lakes.

When systematic studies of Northern rock art started a century ago, Brøgger (1925, 91) expressed his scepticism to the strong focus on dating among archaeologists. He admitted that this was important, but claimed that the attempts to date rock art suffered from the same weaknesses as the chronology proposed for material culture. Instead of fragmenting the record by means of typology, Brøgger claimed that the rock art should be studied from broader perspectives. Shetelig took another stand. He had studied Iron Age decorative art and treated the Northern rock art from a similar aesthetic perspective, sorting the material into styles (Shetelig 1922, 131). In this, he followed his French colleagues who were studying the FrancoCantabrian cave art, the existence of which had recently been accepted (Leroi-Gouhan 1965; Bahn 1998).

Most of these methods were of little relevance for Northern rock art; style and shoreline dating therefore came to dominate. When dates obtained by these methods came into conflict with each other, style dating was given preference (Gjessing 1935a; 1936). However, the situation has turned around recently; shoreline dating is now considered to be the more reliable of these two methods (e.g. Lindqvist 1994, Ramstad 2000). On the other hand, Bakka (1988) found that at Hammer a covariation existed between the results obtained from these methods. Covariations like these may, however, be a result of how the styles are defined. The covariation between ancient sea levels and large ‘naturalistic’ polished carvings in northern Nordland can hardly be questioned (Gjessing 1932; Hesjedal 1992; 1994), but

To some extent, the dating problem for Stone Age material culture is solved by radiometric dates, while rock art dating still suffers from a lack of adequate methods that are not based on suppositions, the basis for which should be questioned. Stone Age chronologies used in Norway today are primarily based on typological studies of material culture


Age and Cultural Context we should ask whether they represent a causal explanation and seek other possible causes, too (Sognnes 2012).

argument for the early age of the zoomorphic images in general. The possibility of dating the rock carvings in central Norway by studying the weathering has hardly been discussed since. The images are carved on different kinds of rock, but most are found around Trondheimsfjord on bedrock mainly consisting of Cambro-Silurian sandstone, greywacke and shale that was low-grade metamorphosed during the Caledonian orogenesis (Sveian and Solli 1997b; Fossen et al. 2006) and now forms beds of quartzite, metagreywacke and phyllite.

New, alternative dating methods presented and debated in international fora (e.g. Bednarik 1992; 2001; 2012; Watchman 1992; 2000; Gordon 2010) have hardly been included in the Norwegian rock art discourse. One reason for this is that rock art for more than a century has been integrated in the Norwegian archaeological curriculum as part of a continuous research tradition within an established chronological framework focusing on national and Scandinavian topics. Few people have taken part in the rock art part of this discourse, which has been dominated by reports presenting new discoveries (chapter 1). A priori there was nothing wrong with this, but methods used were hardly questioned and the data hardly re-examined. The framework for rock art studies became black-boxed (Jones 2002, 29) in the early twentieth century as part of the precognition learned by later generations who came to treat hypotheses as facts instead of factoids, which most of them are.

A number of rock art sites in central Norway may be suitable for testing some of the recently proposed dating methods, such as that devised by Gordon (2010) which is based on pigments and rock particles removed during pecking or pounding of the images or fallen from vertical panels due to later weathering, the particles being collected from the soil below the images. Recent removal of soil below some of the Honnhammaren panels unfortunately took place at the panels most suitable for experimenting with this method. However, hopefully some newly discovered panels on the same farm (Linge 2014) will provide similar microstratigraphic conditions. The Heggvik and Mølnargården panels appear to be suitable for this kind of investigation, too.

To some extent, we may talk of a common Scandinavian rock art research tradition, but Danish, Swedish and Norwegian scholars soon reached different conclusions regarding chronologies and interpretations; short versus long chronologies and hunting magic versus fertility religion, etc. This leads to what I consider to be the major problem in Scandinavian rock art research during the twentieth century: an extreme focus on dating and diachronic studies, which to a large extent were conducted within a chronological framework designed around 1870 based on Thomsen’s (1836) three-age system. As mentioned above, Brøgger (1925, 13-14) reacted against the delusion created by typology and chronology, as he called it. In spite of Brøgger’s position as one of Norway’s leading archaeologists during the first half of the twentieth century (Grieg 1953), his reservation against constraints created by the periodisation of prehistory and the emphasis on typological-temporal studies was basically ignored.

Bednarik has been studying the micro-erosion of minerals for many years. The principle behind this method is that rock surfaces are subject to chemical weathering (Bednarik 2001, 125). Micro-erosion can primarily be studied on erosion-resistant rocks. One way is to study the micro-vane, the measurement of fractured quartz crystals based on the assumption that the fracturing follows certain physical laws. This erosion, however, depends on climate, and local calibration curves should be established. Bednarik (1993, 151) was able to construct a tentative calibration curve during work at Belov Nos in Russian Karelia. The method has been tested in several countries in different parts of the world (Bednarik 2001, 126; Tang and Gao 2004).


In 1980, bedrock samples from a selection of rock art panels in central Norway were petrographically analysed (Prestvik 1981). Bardal I was among the panels chosen for this study. The bedrock was classified as calcite-rich greywacke sandstone with quartz, muscovite and calcite as major minerals together with some chlorite and epidote. The calcite was dissolved down to c. 5 mm below the surface. Quartz veins are found on the lower part of the panel, and some of these are crossed by man-made furrows. In theory, this panel should be well suited for testing the direct dating method proposed by Bednarik. Due to its many superimpositions and phases representing both major Scandinavian rock art traditions, Bardal I might actually be the best ‘laboratory’ in Europe for testing Bednarik’s method, partly because some years ago a panel was exposed that had not been weathered, having been covered by superficial deposits since the end of the Pleistocene.

The importance of rock weathering for establishing relative dates for superimposed carvings was realised already at the discovery of the Bardal I panel in the mid- 1890s. While the furrows belonging to the large elk images were strongly weathered, those of the partly superimposing boat images were far better preserved and individual peck-marks could be identified (Lossius 1896). In their report documenting Hammer I, Hougen and Engelstad (1923) compared the techniques used for the two friezes on the panel. They found hardly any differences between the birds in the upper frieze and the boats and horses in the lower frieze, which led them to suggest that all the carvings on this panel were made at approximately the same time. This was, however, rejected by Gjessing (1936, 172), who used the strong weathering of the large elk at Bardal I as an


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway

Figure 66. The Sandhalsen rock shelter at Vasstrand in Åfjord during its excavation in 1931, with Th. Petersen in the foreground. (©NTNU Museum).

The panel at Stykket may also be a suitable candidate for such a test. In its lower part, furrows belonging to two carvings cross a series of quartz veins. Prestvik (1981) classified the bedrock as mica schist. Quartz is the major mineral together with parallel-oriented biotite. Chlorite and retrograded, poikilitic garnet crystals were identified; these were mostly transformed into muscovite and chlorite. The rock face at Stykket seems, in general, to be strongly weathered, as indicated by nearly horizontal quartz veins that stand 1-2 cm out from the rock matrix. However, the matrix in the analysed sample shows no significant change towards the surface (Prestvik 1981). The Stykket sample was taken from a crack in the central part of the panel, where the surface appears to be better preserved than at the sides, even though it is almost continuously covered by seepage water. This seepage may, however, have created a silica skin on this part of the rock.

Stratigraphy Stratigraphy is a geological concept covering the branch of geology dealing with the formation, composition, sequence and correlation of stratified rocks as part of the Earth’s crust (DGT 1962, 476). This concept has a slightly different meaning for archaeologists, since they mostly deal with layers and strata made by humans. Basic stratigraphic principles are, however, highly relevant for interpreting archaeological sequences during excavations and even for dating rock art, following the law of superimposition, the layers being correlated based on sequence and uniqueness; yet debris from an older bed may be included in a younger bed (Bahn 2004, 457). No radiocarbon dates of rock art exist from central Norway, but samples of red pigments used for paintings have been collected from some sites. Hallström (1938, 399) took some samples from Honnhammaren and Marstrander (1965) took a sample from the Fingalshula cave in the Namdal district. However, analyses only showed that the pigment used was haematite (Fe2O3); no binder was found. In 1990, Michelsen took some samples at Honnhammaren for scanning electron microscope study. All of them were covered with a thin film of silica. He also found that the edges of the painted lines show traces of the rock surface being crushed. This was most easily seen on the fish at Honnhammar III (Michelsen 1992, 123).

Weathering rinds are zones of oxidation, hydration or solution formed parallel to the rock surface. Their thickness is a function of time (Bednarik 2012, 60). Such rinds are common on rocks in central Norway. On the low-grade metamorphosed sandstones in this region, this process appears to stop at a certain level at which the uppermost weathered crust spalls from the bedrock underneath. For some time, this outer zone may still hang onto the surrounding rock at the edges, but eventually it will crack, or spall and fall off. Two spalling phases can be identified on the Southern Scandinavian Stuberg II panel in Stjørdal.


Age and Cultural Context study a profile with sediments covering the panel. His conclusion was that the deposits represented a beach bar built by wave action shortly after the carvings were made. This situation indicates that maximum and minimum shoreline dates were virtually identical. Lindqvist (1994, 199) reported that samples taken from the still-stand profile were analysed and classified as beach gravel deposits. This may be correct, but I suggest that this gravel may have been redeposited either by a former farmer transporting the deposits to this Figure 67. Radiocarbon dates from the Helvete cave at Røst, Nordland (A), Solsem particular spot or they are part of a cave at Leka (B-D) and Sandhalsen I rock shelter in Åfjord (E-G). small landslide consisting of marine deposits originally located at a Dating small amounts of organic matter embedded in higher level. Gjerde (2010, 44-45) also expressed silica skins covering vertical rock surfaces (Watchman scepticism regarding these deposits. 1992; 2000) might be relevant for rock paintings in central Norway, too. Paintings on exposed vertical rocks If natural and/or man-made strata cover a rock art panel without any overhang (like the majority of rock paintings and these strata can be dated, we get a minimum age for in central Norway) might actually be preserved thanks to the images in question. This was the case for the lower a thin cover of silica. So far, however, no attempt has part of Bardal I, but the deposits in question were been made to test this method in the study area. The silica removed without any recognition of their possible skin found by Michelsen (1992) at Honnhammar III might potential for dating the carvings; this happened more than contain organic matter. The panels at Heggvik and half a century before radiocarbon dating became a Mølnargården, too, perhaps even Stykket, might be possibility. None of the deposits covering Hammer VI suitable for testing this method. and the lower part of the Strand panel, as well as the Bjørset boulders, by themselves provided any clue to the Excavations dating of the carvings, but they are indirectly used as arguments for a dating by means of the land uplift. When the soil covering the lower part of Bardal I was removed in 1896, standard archaeological procedures Unfortunately, Northern rock art is normally not located used today were clearly not followed. This has been the at places with deposits that may preserve organic matter situation during later investigations as well; Norwegian suitable for dating. However, some decorated caves and archaeologists have treated rock art sites differently from rock shelters have occupation layers which may provide other prehistoric monuments. Hardly any systematic datable organic matter; some of these sites have actually excavations were conducted while soil and turf were been archaeologically excavated. removed. In fact, Ziegler’s (1900) drawing made in 1890 (Figure 3) seems to be the only attempt to document the Th. Petersen (1932) excavated parts of the Sandhalsen I surface of a rock art panel for more than a century. rock shelter at Vasstrand (Figure 66). Incomplete However, the author has measured orientations and paintings apparently continued down below the present inclinations on most panels being documented (Sognnes surface of the terrace in front of the panel. Petersen dug a 1986; 2001). longitudinal trench along the rock face, but found neither artefacts nor more painting or pigments. He also dug a Holocene deposits covering rock art panels are reported transverse trench and found a layer of soil between 20 and from several sites in central and northern Norway, but 70 cm thick containing large amounts of charcoal, but no contrary to Ramstad (2000), I would claim that these artefacts. Petersen collected some charcoal samples, but panels are few, not many, and their representativeness did not note their location. In 1993, the author therefore should be questioned. Strand and Bjørset were discussed excavated another transverse trench close to the first one above. No excavations have been performed at Strand (Sognnes 2015). Two strata were identified. The lower since, but when T. Petersen (1939) removed the soil one consisted mainly of stones, the upper one of brown partly covering the Bjørset boulders, he noticed a possible soil containing fire-cracked stones and a large quantity of older humus layer. charcoal. Three vertical series of charcoal samples were taken, and three samples have so far been dated (Figure Some panels were actually discovered during the removal 67E-G). of natural or man-made deposits, and to some extent it has been possible to study the remains of these deposits later. Petersen excavated the Solsem cave on Leka, NordAt Hammer VII, Bakka (1975) got the opportunity to Trøndelag, already in 1913 (T. Petersen 1914); this is the


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway

Figure 68. Schematic presentation of the Stone Age epicentre and main distribution of Bronze Age and Iron Age carvings on the Bardal I panel (cf. Figure 7).

only decorated cave in central Norway where it has been possible to excavate the floor. Three radiocarbon dates from this cave (Sognnes 2009) are found in Figure 67BD. Figure 67A shows a date from the Helvete cave at Røst, Nordland (Bjerck 1995). Interestingly, the earlier dates from Sandhalsen and Solsem cave are virtually identical, between 3800 and 3500 BP calibrated, that is, the Early Bronze Age. The Helvete date comes very close to this time span, too.

ancient shore. The date of these carvings is uncertain because the site has been affected by a transgression as well as the following regression. Marine deposits (gravels) covered the boulders, most probably during the regression shortly after the transgression maximum, which apparently lasted for a short time around 6000 BP, that is, the Late Mesolithic (Hesjedal et al. 1996, 21). Excavations have provided series of radiocarbon dates at Vingen (Lødøen and Mandt 2012) and Ausevik (Lødøen 2014) in western Norway which show that these sites were used in the Late Mesolithic. Shoreline dates from Alta, however, indicate that the rock art there was made during a much longer period (Helskog 2012). This seems to be the situation in central Norway, too.

The dates from Sandhalsen may have little relevance for dating the paintings there, but they show that people used the shelter during a long period, and the date of the lowest sample corresponds with the date suggested by Gjessing (1936, 180) for these paintings. The dates from these three sites are, of course, too few to justify drawing any significant conclusions, but they may indicate that people started using caves and rock shelters in a new way some time before the beginning of the Bronze Age. There is, however, a difference between paintings found at open-air sites (including rock shelters) and in caves, since, with one exception, the latter contain only simple anthropomorphic images (Bjerck 1995, Sognnes 2008), the cave in question containing equally simple zoomorphs (Sognnes 1982).

Superimpositions Not only the different degrees of weathering, but also the superimpositions found at Bardal I, were important for the early discussion regarding the age of the Northern rock art. Hallström (1908, 65; 1938, 288) supported Lossius’ (1896) conclusion that the carvings on this panel represented a long time span; several phases were apparently represented and a large number of crossing lines belonging to different images were identified.

At Slettnes, Finnmark, five carved boulders were found during the excavation of a Stone Age settlement on an


Age and Cultural Context

Figure 69. Distribution of the major motifs on the Evenhus V panel (original from Gjessing 1936).

However, these lines have not been systematically studied either macroscopically or microscopically.

the geometric motifs in question may not belong to the Northern tradition.

Small-scale superimpositions are known from Hammer, Rødsand, Bogge, Honnhammaren and Evenhus. Superimpositions are frequent at Holte I, but many images apparently are unfinished and the palimpsest of images and lines found on this panel were probably made during a short time span. Superimpositions are more frequent at the large Nämforsen site in Västernorrland, Sweden, where Lindqvist (1994) studied the relationship between crossing furrows belonging to different images. These superimpositions give a complex impression and as the Northern carvings are allegedly superimposed on Southern Scandinavian motifs, the Nämforsen carvings were dated to the Bronze Age (Hagen 1970, 139). However, different styles being represented at different altitudes on this large waterfall led Forsberg (1993) to believe that the Nämforsen carvings were made during the Stone Age.

This panel has not been studied at the image level, except to sort the images into already established rock art traditions and style groups (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938). Most zoomorphs are rather fragmentary and it was difficult to find ten relatively complete images for my original deconstruction of the cervid images on this panel (Sognnes 2010). I have, however, made a preliminary study of the distribution of the images, identifying different epicentres for images belonging to different periods, following Gjessing’s (1935; 1936) sequence (Figure 68). The starting point for this analysis was the cluster of large elk to the left and immediately above the meeting point of the two converging rows of eye-like groves. This indicates that these grooves were of importance for the making of carvings on this particular panel. The Bronze Age boats appear to have two epicentres, one to the right of the large elk and one at the top of these images, where deeply carved boats, around 4.5 m long, are superimposed on the elk. Gjessing (1935) dated these images to the Late Bronze Age, but they may be Early Bronze Age based on similarities with boats carved on bronze razors in southern Scandinavia (Kaul 1998; Kristiansen 2002). A third cluster of Bronze Age carvings is found at the upper righthand edge of the panel, next to the tail of the large whale. The epicentre of the Early Iron Age boats is further down. These images are rarely part of superimpositions and are found scattered on the lower part of the rock.

Some of the larger paintings at Honnhammar I appear to be superimposed on older ones. Recently it was discovered that this panel contained carvings, too (Sognnes 2001b), and these were made by scratching some discontinuous, narrow lines through the already painted part of the rock face. Three boat images were identified, apparently representing the Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age type known from the Trondheimsfjord area. The Bardal I panel (Figure 7) has been studied at this level, too. T. Petersen (1922) claimed he could not find any significant differences in the weathering of images belonging to either of the two traditions represented on this panel. However, if we compare the earlier Northern phase with the later Southern phase, we have no problem identifying distinct macroscopic differences. Yet some images, mostly geometric motifs, claimed to belong to the Northern tradition are surprisingly well preserved, and T. Petersen (1922) may be partly right in his claim; probably no significant time gap exists between the later Northern and the earlier Southern tradition carvings. Alternatively,

Horizontal stratigraphy The term horizontal stratigraphy has been used in rock art studies, and this concept seems to have relevance for some sites and panels in central Norway, including Bardal I, Hammer V and Evenhus V. Horizontal stratigraphy is an expression of deliberate composition on a panel. Images involved may have been made as part of a master plan from the very beginning, but their distribution may as well be the result of later images being added to the


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway images, except for one incomplete whale. Elk and whales other-wise are not superimposed. This is not the case for the boats, which form a skew longitudinal belt across the panel, frequently being superimposed on other images. We may actually see the boats as a deliberate composition (chapter 4). Four small elk are placed around the large one, two of which are now incomplete. Up to the left is a fifth, small, isolated elk. Most whales form a frieze near the lower edge of the panel. Two small whales are placed within boats, as is one anthropomorph (not shown on the figure). The boats are Figure 70. Detail of a ’polished’ rock carving at Vågan in Bodø (author’s photo 2004). involved in superimpositions with both elk and whales. Some original one(s) more or less at random. However, when an boats at the same time give the impression of being image is placed relative to an existing image a new peripheral, for instance the two in the upper left-hand composition is created. corner and the one in the lower right-hand corner, which actually is situated 1 m to the right of its nearest In general, there seems no reason why part of a panel was neighbouring carving. Gjessing (1936, Plate LXXVI) saw not used or why more images were added on some panels. the little group of carvings up to the left as a separate panel. Gjerde (2010, 45) suggested that these choices may be related to an Inunniat perception of landscape; the placing Based on these observations, we may suggest that the of the images could be related to the space perception of carvings at Evenhus V can be sorted into three major foragers, so that images and scenes were placed in phases, the earlier one being represented by the elk. The relation to points, lines and surfaces. The images may whales then would represent the second phase. Boats relate to the rock face, whether a spatial landscape, a were carved across the panel in the third phase, ignoring historical landscape, a mythological landscape or a the older images. We thus find a parallel to Bardal I, combination of two or more of these. where the Southern Scandinavian images (mostly boats) ‘deface’ the older Northern ones. We may even see the At Bardal I, the large whale is placed along the top of the scraped boat images at Honnhammar I as expressing a panel while the birds are located on the lower central part similar idea. of the rock. Together with the birds, we find some anthropomorphs and framed geometric patterns, and at This model presents a sequence of carvings based on the both sides of the bird composition we find some small assumption that each motif was made during a certain cervids. The upper frieze of bird images at Hammer I phase. We do not know, however, whether this is correct. clearly forms a deliberate composition, too, the existence But if it was, we may wonder how long each phase lasted. of which the later makers of the Southern carvings took If it lasted between 100 and 200 years, the rock art into consideration. making period at Evenhus must have lasted through to the Early Bronze Age (see below), much later than previously Evenhus V is dominated by images depicting elk, whales supposed for carvings of this kind (Gjessing 1936). and boats. Superimpositions indicate that these motifs may be part of a sequence. The following is an attempt to No systematic studies of superimpositions and horizontal analyse this panel from a chronological-compositional stratigraphy than those presented here have so far been point of view. Rings and anthropomorphs are not carried out, but further studies clearly have a great included in this analysis, which is based on two basic potential, in particular at Bardal I. Unfortunately, they can observations, that superimpositions in all cases involve a only provide relative dates, but even those would greatly boat and that the larger elk is centrally placed on the improve our understanding of the making and use of panel. Figure 69 is based on T. Petersen’s tracing of the Northern rock art in the study area. The importance and images, supplemented by Gjessing (1936, Plate LXXVII). impact of horizontal stratigraphy studies are more difficult The size and location of the large elk indicates that it to evaluate, but they may help to sort the material into might have been the very first image carved on this different temporal and societal entities and subsequently panel, seemingly respected by the makers of the other help to establish a reliable relative chronology.


Age and Cultural Context footprints, which are the most common Southern Scandinavian motif in the region (Sognnes 2001).

Techniques Here, I focus on whether the different techniques used for making Northern rock art have any chronological bearing. Hammering a hard stone onto the rock, either directly by pounding or indirectly by pecking, was used to make most rock carvings around the world (Bednarik 2001, 200201). Today, it is difficult to decide which one of these techniques was actually used, but they dominate in both Scandinavian traditions. This means they may have been used as long as rock art was made in central Norway.

In principle, this technique was also used at Gärde in Jämtland, Sweden. The Gärde furrows are V-shaped, too, although more rounded at the bottom. Hallström (1960, 53) believed that the bottom of these lines were polished and therefore compared the images with the polished Nordland carvings. Recently, Gjerde (2010, 14) suggested that the Hell carvings were neither incised nor cut into the rock, but were ground into the rock. Whether this is correct is uncertain, but support for this idea may be found in Hallström’s observation from Gärde. The lines at Hell and Gärde are, however, cut deeply into the rocks, while the depth of the Nordland carvings can hardly be measured. Whether polished or incised, the end appearance of the carvings at Gärde and Hell are distinctly different from those at Vågan.

Most Northern carvings show some degree of weathering. Scarcely any traces of the original peck-marks can be identified macroscopically on the Bøla IV and V panels, but individual marks can be identified on Hammer VII. The shallow grinding or polishing used in northern Nordland, in combination with the large size of these ‘naturalistic’ images and the high altitudes above present sea level, has been used as a dating criterion (Gjessing 1932; 1936; 1945; Hallström 1938; Hesjedal 1992; 1994). Since Gjessing (1932) and Hallström (1938) published their studies, more sites have been found where this technique was used, all in the same region (Simonsen 1958). This strengthens Gjessing’s (1932, 48) original suggestion that we may be dealing with a local tradition.

Incised footprints have been known from Stjørdal for half a century. These images seemed to be rare, but during the last decade an increasing number have been found in Stjørdal (Haug 2011) and at Steinkjer (Lindgaard 2007). If this technique has any chronological bearing, it should be dated to the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age rather than to the Stone Age. Alternatively, it was used in the same region during two different periods separated by some thousands of years.

The polished lines are shallow; their depth can hardly be measured macroscopically. Gjessing (1932, 36) pointed out that this polishing makes the furrows more resistant to weathering, but this resistance depends on the structure and texture of the rocks as well. Consequently, I find it surprising that large parts of the polished furrows actually are strongly weathered, as demonstrated in Figure 70, which shows some of the polished furrows of a large elk image at Vågan in Bodø. The polished ‘lines’ at this and other sites are so fragmented that Gjessing (1932, 12-13) gave up tracing these images. This means that I, contrary to the general opinion (e.g. Gjessing 1932; 1945; Hesjedal 1994; Gjerde 2010), have reached the conclusion that the weathering of the rocks in question started long before the images were made. The pores in the polished furrows are too many and too large for the weathering to have started after the images were made. If the polishing took place shortly after the retreat of the ice cap, which is indicated by the maximum dates obtained by the land uplift (Hesjedal 1994), this particular weathering of the rocks should be less noticeable. I therefore find it difficult to accept the very early dates for the images in question. In theory, it should be possible to extract datable organic matter from pores inside as well as outside the polished furrows to provide dates that might be compared to each other and, hopefully, establish the age of the engravings.

The Gärde carvings provide no help for answering this question; these carvings have been dated partly by means of size and style, and partly by the technique used, which in practice means that they are dated relative to the Trondheimsfjord carvings, the maximum date of which is provided by the Holocene land uplift (see below). Engelstad (1934) and Gjessing (1936) considered the rock paintings in eastern and central Norway to be late and consequently dated them to the Early Bronze Age. Since they are generally small and ‘schematic’, this technique became synonymous with late images. As stated above, the radiocarbon dates from the Solsem cave and the Sandhalsen rock shelter indicate that the Bronze Age date may be correct (see above). Comparisons Since its very beginning, archaeology has been a comparative discipline and comparisons have played a decisive role in the Scandinavian rock art discourse regarding dating as well as cultural context(s). The importance of comparisons in archaeology has been reduced in later decades due to radiocarbon and other independent dating methods, which, however, so far have been applied to rock art on a limited scale. This will most probably be the situation in the near future, too; classification and dating of the vast majority of images, panels and sites will have to be based on comparisons with the few images that happen to be dated independently.

Hagen (1990, 36) claimed that the incision technique used at Hell was unique in Norway. This is not correct. Vshaped incised furrows were used to carve images at several Southern sites in the Trondheimsfjord area, in particular in Stjørdal in the immediate vicinity of Hell (Sognnes 1999b). Most of these incised images depict


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway The frequent use of this method is based on the idea that certain artefacts, images and manufacturing techniques characterise different phases and periods; similar rock images are considered to be contemporary. Morphological similarities form the basis for sorting the material into types and styles, which are then placed within already established chronological sequences. These dates are seldom absolute; we may be able to date elements of ancient material and visual culture to a certain period or phase, but these entities are artificial and without any bearing for the people who made or experienced the images when they were new. Archaeologists are trained to think in boxes like these, but centuries may have passed between the making of two similar rock images or artefacts. It was comparisons between site distributions and motifs that led to the sorting of Scandinavian rock art into two separate traditions (Hansen 1904; Brøgger 1906), as was the sorting of images into types and styles. In Norway, most scholars soon accepted these divisions. The two traditions occasionally occur in the same areas, sometimes on the same farms and even the same panels. The general pattern shows, however, that at sites dominated by Northern carvings or paintings, only a few images belong to the Southern tradition. In central Norway, Southern Scandinavian images are found among Northern carvings at Evenhus and Hammer (Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Bakka and Gaustad 1975; Bakka 1988). Hagen (1970) saw Bogge as a mixed site, but the Northern and Southern tradition carvings there are found on separate panels at different altitudes above present sea level. Hallström (1938, 410-411) found some panels with Southern Scandinavian images close to Bogge I and II, which he, unfortunately, did not document. These panels have not been uncovered since and it is not known whether they contain Northern carvings as well. At most sites, one tradition only is represented. Bardal I, with its palimpsest of images on one large panel, is the major exception to this rule. Motifs Dating the rock images was the primary aim for most comparisons between Northern rock art and other rock art traditions, with a second emphasis on the origins of the motifs. As mentioned above, the Late Palaeolithic FrancoCantabrian cave art played a significant role in this search for origin. Brøgger (1906) and Shetelig (1922) based their hypotheses on similarities in the ways the animals were drawn, and Shetelig (1922, 141) claimed that the FrancoCantabrian and Northern traditions were so similar that it was most unlikely that they came into being independently from each other. There were, however, considerable spatial and temporal gaps between these two traditions. This gap, Shetelig believed, would be bridged by new discoveries of portable art in central and northern Europe. Shetelig (1922, 130) found parallels for the stylistically later images in the rock art of Russia and Siberia and, hence,

Figure 71. Whale images with double central lines through the body. A from Lånke, Stjørdal, B from Hammer, Steinkjer (after Sognnes 1983 and Bakka 1988).

postulated a possible origin for these images in the east. These later images differed so much from the earlier ones that they could not have the same origin, but, at the same time, they were all seen as parts of one stylistic temporal sequence. Gjessing (1936; 1945) argued against the Late Palae-olithic origin hypothesis, claiming that the identified similarities between Northern rock art and Franco-Cantabrian cave art were with Aurignacian rather than Magdalenian images. His conclusion was that the Northern rock art tradition was invented independently in Scandinavia, more specifically, in a restricted area in northern Nordland, northern Norway, that is, in the region with large, polished, ‘naturalistic’ zoomorphs. He also claimed that the later stylistic changes were the result of an internal Scandinavian development. He saw, however, connections between all rock art regions in northern Eurasia (Gjessing 1945, 296), emphasising the close relationship with water that could be identified for rock art in Scandinavia and northern Russia (Gjessing 1945, 302). The idea of diffusion played an important role for both hypotheses; differences or similarities between images were the result of extra-cultural diffusion versus intracultural invention. For the so-called ‘line of life’ motif, Gjessing (1936; 1941) compared examples found in central Norway with images from Japan, Siberia and North America (with reference to Mallery 1893). Although expressing some scepticism of this kind of hyperdiffusionism, Gjessing (1936, 145) saw this motif as a possible link between Northern rock art and shamanism all over the northern hemisphere.


Age and Cultural Context Here, the majority of images depict boats, birds and whales. A third cluster of whales was identified in Romsdal and Nordmøre. All maritime motifs are represented at Hammer and Evenhus, which places these two large sites apart from the other sites. Bogge seemingly lacks contemporary boats. Compared with cervids, the contours of whales and aquatic birds are fairly easy to draw. Contoured depictions of these images without internal lines are most common. Whales and birds with internal line patterns are above all found at Hammer, but similar images are found at other sites, too, for instance some whales at Evenhus. Birds are found at Bøla and Lånke. This might indicate that some kind of contact existed between the Hammer, Bøla, Evenhus and Lånke sites, which is supported by the occurrence of boats at Hammer and Evenhus. Figure 72. Segmented drawing of an elk at Luine, Valcamonica, Italy (after Anati 2004).

My deconstructions of the cervid images show that differences rather than similarities between the sites in central Norway can be identified; it is difficult to date these images on morphological similarities alone. We find a similar situation when comparing these sites with sites across the border in Sweden, for instance at Glösa (Sognnes 2010). Some major morphological classes were used as the basis for constructing the style-based chronological sequence in the early twentieth century (Shetelig 1922; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938). Dating these images is, however, problematic and we should ask the basic question whether there were particular meanings behind the different ways of drawing cervids and other animals; whether they represent different phases, or were made by different social and/or cultural or age groups. Our interpretations will depend on whether we study the motifs from a diachronic or a synchronic perspective (Sognnes 1994), and differences in the choice of motifs and styles that occur over time are the result of cultural and social processes, too. The presence of birds and two very special whale images (Figure 71) may link the Hammer and Lånke sites. These whales illustrate the problem of similarities versus dissimilarities. They are the only whale images known that have a two-lined ‘belt’ along the central part of the trunk. The space between these lines is filled with geometric line patterns. This, however, is all these two images have in common. The length of the central lines differs as does the pattern between them. Both whales are contoured, but tails and dorsal fins are drawn differently. Both may have a special marking of the head, but, unfortunately, most of the head of the Lånke whale is missing. Stebergløkken (2008) studied maritime motifs in the Northern rock art of central Norway and identified two major clusters at Trondheimsfjord, one in Steinkjer and Snåsa in the inner part of the fjord and the other in the central part of the fjord, in Stjørdal, Frosta and Malvik.

In general, boats are scarce in Northern rock art, but they are frequent at Alta (Helskog 1985; 1988; 2012) and Nämforsen (Hallström 1960). However, these images differ significantly from those found in central Norway, although they probably depict the same kind of boat. The Alta and Nämforsen images were mostly drawn as silhouettes, while the boats in Norway south of Alta are contoured. Furthermore, the stems of the Alta and Nämforsen boats are shaped like elk heads, while those in central Norway have stems resembling bird heads. The search for a Palaeolithic origin of the Northern rock art came to a standstill after Gjessing’s work. The existence of a post-Palaeolithic rock art tradition in the Spanish Levant (e.g. Beltrán 1982; Mateo Saura 1999) may re-actualise this search for a foreign origin, but this Levantine art differs significantly from Northern rock art. The Levantine images are painted and located under rock shelters, and they consist of different motifs drawn in ways different from the rock art found in northern Scandinavia. We should rather seek common roots for these two traditions. Palaeolithic open-air carvings in Spain and Portugal (Bahn and Vertut 1988; Lorblanchet 1995) may be seen as possible origins for Northern rock art, too. These and the later discoveries at Foz Côa in Portugal (e.g. Aubry 2006; Aubry and Sampaio 2008) have changed our understanding of southwest European Palaeolithic art. Seen as drawings, these carvings are more similar to Northern rock art then the Levantine rock art, but, again, we still face the problem of large, void geographical areas between the traditions being compared. The imagery at Foz Côa mainly focuses on Late Palaeolithic fauna, but some images appear to be from the Mesolithic. Some ‘naturalistic’ images depicting cervids (Figure 72) found in Valcamonica, Italy (Anati 1982; Fossati 2007) have been dated to the Mesolithic, or epi-Palaeolithic in Italian terminology. It has, however, also been suggested that these images were made during the Palaeolithic (Fossati 2007, 139). These images show even greater similarities with Northern images, but not with the supposed earlier ones. They are not contoured, but are drawn as separate segments, with legs added to the trunk


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway date for these sites. This model seems to fit here, but contradicts earlier thinking.

Figure 73. Whale-shaped slate knife from Teksdal in Bjugn, decorated with incised whale images (author’s drawing).

after it was drawn. The suggested dates for these images are, however, based on comparisons with carvings found elsewhere in Europe (Anati 2004, 167). Compared with the chronological sequences proposed for Northern rock art, the origin of the Valcamonica images should be looked for in northern Scandinavia rather than the opposite. It is, however, more probable that this is an example of parallel development in different parts of Europe. Geometric patterns have been used in the discussion of the chronology of the Northern rock art tradition, for instance by Bakka (1974, 173), who found that a framed hexagonal pattern at Holte I could not have been made later than the end of the Middle Neolithic. Comparisons like this are, however, problematic because they tend to be based on a limited amount of relevant data with unknown statistical significance. However, elaborate zigzags found on the Bronze Age panels, Leirfall III and V, in Stjørdal are dated to the Bronze Age (Marstrander and Sognnes 1999). The nearest parallel to these designs, together with some boat images, is found on grave slabs from the Mjeltehaugen mound on the island of Giske, near Ålesund, Møre and Romsdal. This empty grave was dated to the Bronze Age, too, but the intricate geometric patterns found on these slabs should rather be compared with Neolithic graves from continental Europe (Marstrander 1998). I have recently suggested that this actually was the case, these Leirfall images, as well as the Mjeltehaugen slabs, are from the Neolithic (Cochrane et al. 2015). This is supported by the existence of similar patterns at the Northern tradition sites of Søbstad and Rein (Figure 107), and at Holte I and the suggested Stone Age part of Bardal I, which would support a Neolithic

Similarities between images are most probably identified for motifs that are easy to draw, like whales, birds and boats. However, the greatest similarities are found between images on the same panels and sites. Certain ways of drawing cervids were preferred at each site; they express differences rather than similarities, signifying a particular place rather than regional entity. The large ‘naturalistic’ images seem to be an exception to this rule, but these are found at only a few sites and differences can even be identified at these sites. A preliminary conclusion based on the work so far would be that the Northern rock art in central Norway does not support previous scholars’ ideas about age and influences. Previously identified chronologically and stylistically separated entities may not exist.

Portable objects Comparisons between Nordic rock art and decorated portable objects have been made at several levels. Comparisons with carvings on bone and antler are most common (e.g. Bakka 1973), but incised slate artefacts and figurines occur too. Interestingly, in Sweden most artefacts with incised images are found in northern Jämtland (Edvinger 1993, 15), across the border from Trøndelag. Recognisable and datable artefacts (bronze swords, etc.) are represented in Southern tradition rock art (e.g. Malmer 1981), but so far no corresponding images are known in the Northern tradition. Images apparently depicting a particular boat type are, however, represented in both traditions, but were drawn in ways that are specific for each tradition. Most Southern tradition images depicting this boat type are found in central Norway, especially in Stjørdal (Sognnes 1999), but the type is also known from western Norway (Fett and Fett 1941, Mandt Larsen 1972; Mandt 1976). As demonstrated above, many slate knives were shaped like whales and some like fish, and I have claimed that the outlines of some of these artefacts show great similarities with the main body segment on some Northern carvings depicting cervids (Sognnes 2013). Since these artefacts are not reliably dated, they cannot be used to date the rock art. However, we see that a close relationship between material and visual culture existed in central Norway during the latter part of the Stone Age. A red slate knife from Teksdal, SørTrøndelag (K. Rygh 1903) is one of the best examples of


Age and Cultural Context these multi-meaning artefacts. Three whale images are incised on the blade of this knife, which itself is shaped like a whale (Figure 73). Based on recent investigations at Nyhamna on the island of Gossen, Møre and Romsdal (Bjerck 2008), we may claim that most slate knives, including some decorated ones, should be dated to the Middle Neolithic. This is probably the age of similar knives in other parts of central and northern Norway as well. Berge (2006) studied decorated slate knives and points. Most of these are found on the coast, but some are in inland districts. They were decorated with geometric patterns, frequently parallel lines, zigzags and short, crossing lines. Berge identified three concentrations of decorated artefacts, one in Romsdal and Nordmøre, one on the Fosen peninsula and one in central Helgeland in Nordland, near Vefsnfjord and the adjacent Ranafjord. This partly corresponds with the general distribution pattern for slate knives in this region (Søborg 1988, 226). Incisions on bone and antler were sought as possible models for Northern rock art from the very beginning, as part of attempts to link this tradition with the FrancoCantabrian cave art. Unfortunately, hardly any such artefacts have been found in the vast area in between these two traditions. Shetelig (1922, 143, 147) compared Northern rock carvings with a ‘naturalistically’ incised deer on the cortex of a flint nodule from Grime’s Graves in England (after Armstrong 1921), which was dated to the Neolithic. To some extent, the spatial gap to FrancoCantabrian cave art would be bridged by this find. The main image from Grime’s Graves was, however, drawn with four legs in a bi-angular oblique perspective, which is not seen in the Northern rock art in the study area. Brøgger (1906) pointed out similarities between geometric decorations on slate artefacts from Scandinavia and linear and zigzag motifs in the southwest European Magdalenian culture. Transmission of these ornaments to northernmost Europe, he believed, came via the decorated artefacts of the Early Maglemose culture. Clark (1936) made similar comparisons. Most Maglemose period incisions consist of geometric designs, but in this case he emphasised a deer antler mattock head from Ystad in Scania, Sweden, with two incised deer, one of which is complete. At first glance, these images, which are contoured, resemble images belonging to Gjessing’s early styles. Closer study shows that these animals, too, were drawn with four legs in a bi-angular oblique perspective. Of course, we cannot expect 100 per cent conformity between large, sometimes full-scale, rock images and small, incised images a few centimetres long. Among other factors, the execution of rock images depends partly on the size and technique used, partly on the texture of the rock. We should therefore not put too much emphasis on identified differences, but in these cases I see the different perspectives used as significant for refuting hypotheses of any relationship between Northern rock art and the Grime’s Graves and Ystad images.

Figure 74. Single-line quadrupeds from Northern (A-C) and Southern (D-E) tradition rock art. A-B from Bogge in Nesset, C from Holte in Levanger, D-F from Fordal in Stjørdal.

Gjessing (1945) compared the geometric rock art ornaments with incisions on slate artefacts. Knives may be decorated with zigzag lines, while points may have longitudinal zigzags on both sides of the central line (Figure 12B). Frequently, the knife handle is decorated with zigzags, too (Figure 13). Zigzags are often found together with sawtooth-like incisions on the knife edge, and these are common in central Norway (Gjessing 1945, 282; Berge 2006). More common than zigzags are short parallel lines (Figure 12A). These are frequently in groups of 2 to 23 lines. Bakka (1975, 22-23) made similar comparisons in his attempt to date the Hammer carvings, partly comparing carvings from different regions, partly rock carvings and incisions on bones and antlers in a wide perspective. He focused on zigzags and hexagonal patterns, which were present in eastern Europe already in the Palaeolithic, as support for his understanding of Northern rock art. Following this way of reasoning, we find a probable Middle Neolithic date for rock carvings and paintings depicting whales with skeleton-like internal line patterns. This may also be the age of cervid mages drawn with initial segments with contours shaped like parts of slate knives. We cannot be sure that this is the correct date for these images; we still do not know when the making of rock images started or ended. Furthermore, we do not know what came first, rock art or portable art. However, the Middle Neolithic represents an interface between visual and material culture as indicated by the use of slate and schist as raw material for tools and weapons. We know that slate and schist in central Norway more or less substituted for the use of flint, while artefacts made of bronze to a large extent substituted later for slate artefacts. I believe dating rock art by means of artefacts, and especially images engraved on the artefacts, is problematic. This may be illustrated by the chronology for the many boat images in the Southern tradition that Kaul (1998) sorted into the six periods of the South Scandinavian Bronze Age based on similar engravings on Danish bronze razors. This sequence may be correct, but it does not include some boat types belonging to this tradition, which I believe started before the Bronze Age


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway Styles Style dating is also based on comparisons, on the assumption that the making of prehistoric rock art passed through a development, stylistically similar images being made during a certain period. A century ago, the known Northern rock art record consisted of a few sites and panels containing large, full-scale, contoured and ‘naturalistic’ zoomorphs, and small, highly ‘schematic’ images. The majority of images did not, however, belong to either of these extremes. They may be classified as ‘sub-naturalistic’ and frequently have some kind of internal line patterns. Based on comparisons with the then recently discovered Palaeolithic cave art, Shetelig (1922) found it reasonable to suggest that the large, ‘naturalistic’ images were the older ones and the small, ‘schematic’ images the younger ones. A stylistic sequence was created which soon became a factoid in Norwegian archaeology and rock art studies. As stated above, Shetelig saw the ‘naturalistic’ carvings as examples of ‘primitive nature art’. He postulated a stylistic development consisting of three stages, but the record known at that time showed that images belonging to each of these stages were found in different parts of Norway. He suggested, however, that these regional differences would disappear when more images were discovered (Shetelig 1922, 131). Gjessing (1936) further developed Shetelig’s sequence and tentatively dated the different style stages. The descriptions of images belonging to each stage were, however, vague and general. The primary aim of these studies seems to have been to establish a chronological sequence analogous with the work being done with Prehistoric material culture.

Figure 75. Suggested dates for Northern rock art style groups in central Norway (after Sognnes 1998).

and ended in the Early Iron Age. Imposing rock art chronologies based on material culture may ignore the likelihood that visual culture may represent a system of its own, and the two systems are not necessarily contemporary. Here, I agree with Nordbladh (1978, 7576) who emphasised the existence of two different locations for symbols, permanent and movable objects, respectively, and that these symbolic systems affect different parts of life.

Gjessing dated his style group I to an early part of the Late Stone Age, which should be the Early Neolithic according to modern terminology, the stage lasting through to the Middle Neolithic (Gjessing 1936, 173177). He dated his style group II to the Late Neolithic and style group III to the Early Bronze Age (Gjessing 1936, 179-180). Hallström (1938, 317) put much effort into discussing style sequences. However, he focused on individual images and found that most sites contained images from at least two phases. He placed the large ‘naturalistic’ images at Bardal and Bøla between his confined and extended Nordland styles, but, at the same time, claimed that the elk drawn in the attitude retrospective at Leiknes in Tysfjord stylistically came closer to the Palaeolithic cave art than any other Northern images (Hallström 1938, 112). Hallström (1938, 114) does not seem to have tried to date this stylistic phase, claiming that it was still premature. This attitude, however, concerns only one segment of the Palaeolithic images in question; the entire images should be taken into consideration, in particular, the perspective from which these animals were drawn. A search for such images in available literature shows that animals drawn in attitude retrospective are very rare in Palaeolithic cave art and were, in general, drawn with four legs, although examples of two-legged animals with heads drawn in this


Age and Cultural Context position are found at open-air sites in Foz Coa, Portugal (Lorblanchet 1995, 15, 23, 26). As demonstrated by the Stykket panel, this attitude is not exclusive for Leiknes. The occurrences of Bronze Age horses drawn in the same position (Figure 74E) also help to invalidate this statement. In fact, horses looking backwards in Stjørdal alone (Sognnes 2001) outnumber the total number of elk images drawn in this perspective. Engelstad (1934, 107-108) sorted the record in eastern Norway into three classes regardless of the techniques used: (1) sites with strictly naturalistic images, (2) mixed sites where these images occur together with more or less schematic images, and (3) more or less conventional images. Referring to Kühn (1925), he found that the earlier class could be referred to as ‘sensoric’ while the others represented ‘imaginative’ art. Kühn (1954, 8-9) saw these two kinds of ‘primitive art’ as two opposites, representing different ways of experiencing the world. He did not see prehistoric art as following a unilinear direction, but as oscillating between these two kinds of art: ‘sensoric’ art focused on representing the reality while ‘imaginative’ art focused on the idea behind the motifs, expressed in a symbolic way. Gjessing (1945, 303), too, recognised the duality in primitive art, with its parallel lines of ‘naturalistic’ and symbolic, ‘stylistic’ linear art. Helskog (1989, 89-91) argued against this linear way of thinking, finding, like Engelstad, that most images showed elements of ‘naturalism’ as well as ‘stylization’ at the same time. In particular, he found the lack of definitions problematic. This, he claimed, was most relevant for the concept of ‘naturalism’, because cognition and depiction of nature are subjective and individual. We may identify variations at several levels, but we do not know whether they mirror the way prehistoric people understood the world, or are products of our own modern, culturally dependent expectations when seeing the world. Bakka (1975) and Hagen (1976) divided Gjessing’s style group II into two sub-stages, one without and one with internal lines in the trunk. Simonsen (1974) identified a fourth stylistic stage consisting of small, single-line images (Figure 74A-C), which here are compared with some Southern tradition images (Figure 74D-F). I have tried to illustrate these stages, adding tentative dates for each stage following Gjessing’s dates but using an updated terminology (Figure 75). This was done as an attempt to visualise Gjessing’s thinking; the imagemaking period spanning from the late Mesolithic to the Early Bronze Age. Style I was dated to before 6000 BP, style II between 6000 and 4000 BP with images without internal line patterns between 6000 and 4000 BP and with internal lines between 5000 and 4000 BP. Style III was dated to between 4000 and 3500 BP and style IV to 3500 to 3000 BP (Sognnes 1998, 151). In principle, Simonsen (1974, 142) followed Gjessing’s way of thinking, being ‘certain […] that the style has moved from naturalism towards stylization’. He did not, however, accept Gjessing’s dating of the styles, suggesting that the making of this art (style I) started

around 7000 BP. Furthermore, he dated style II to around 4000 BP, style III to around 3000 BP and style IV to around 2500 BP (clearly being influenced by the dating of the single-line Southern Scandinavian carvings (Figure 75). Simonsen divided style III into three regional substyles; the Trøndelag style, the Østlandet (east Norwegian) style, and the Vestlandet (west Norwegian) style, respectively. He further identified an eastern group consisting of sites in Russian Karelia, Finland and some sites in northern Sweden (Simonsen 1974, 143-145). In his study of the rock carvings at Hammer, Bakka (1988) saw a stylistic change from the upper row of panels at the hill foot (Hammer V-VII) to the panels at lower altitudes (Hammer XIII-XV). He did not, however, describe these differences, which seemingly were perceived intuitively. He apparently supposed that his readers shared his precognition and intuitively saw the same as he did; no definitions or descriptions were necessary. (Bakka’s text was published posthumously and we do not know whether he wold have added something about this in a final version.) The idea of a unilinear stylistic development in Northern rock art was scarcely questioned before the 1970s when some large sites were found in Alta, Finnmark. Helskog (1988, 2012a) sorted these into styles, too, but they differed from those described by Shetelig and Gjessing. Parallel to this, Mikkelsen (1977) started looking at the record from eastern Norway from an alternative perspective. Claiming that these sites were contemporary, he re-dated the carvings to the Mesolithic based on the location of some sites on ancient, raised shorelines. Lindqvist (1994, 36-37) divided the Northern rock art of Fennoscandia into three major style traditions: (1) the Nordland–Trøndelag tradition, (2) the South Norwegian tradition, and (3) the East Fennoscandian tradition. The Nordland–Trøndelag tradition belongs in the area dominated by the material culture of the slate and quartzite complex, the South Norwegian tradition in the area of the Nøstvet cultural complex, which is also found in Trøndelag and Jämtland, and the East Fennoscandian tradition belongs in the area of the Comb Ceramic cultural complex in northwestern Russia, Finland and northernmost parts of Sweden and Norway. Lindqvist’s descriptions of the motifs belonging to each rock art tradition are vague and general. The early Nordland–Trøndelag tradition consists of large, ‘naturalistic’, contoured images ground, pecked, pounded or incised into the rocks (Lindqvist 1994, 15). The later ones become more schematic and internal lines occur on some panels, as do four legs. Dating seems to have been the primary purpose of sorting Northern rock art into styles or groups. Most scholars have supported the Shetelig/Gjessing and Hallström sequences, which, however, have some inherent problems. This dating method is based on the assumption that extensive contacts existed between foraging groups or bands over long distances. To some extent, this is


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway supported by the distribution of the slate complex and might, at least in northern Scandinavia, be relevant for the Neolithic, but less relevant for the Mesolithic. For this period, we should perhaps seek an alternative model to explain the distribution pattern of the rock art. As shown above, the images at Hammer and Evenhus appear to be the most ‘similar’ ones in the study area, but there is a temporal gap of several thousand years between the dates suggested for these sites (Gjessing 1936, Bakka 1975). Moving Evenhus back in time is difficult due to the low altitude of this site. Instead, the Hammer carvings are perhaps younger than hitherto suggested, but then we must reject Bakka’s date for this site, which was based on the suggested marine deposits on the Hammer VII panel. The way Scandinavian archaeologists have studied rock art styles has been in concordance with the European research tradition, but questions should be asked whether this thinking is really relevant for our understanding of this art. Whitley (2005), who for many years studied the rock art in western USA, where some native knowledge about this art still exists, reached a different conclusion. He found that styles alone were not ‘indicative of a particular group or time period’ (Whitley 2005, 49). I will return to this question later. Stebergløkken (2016) recently rejected the way the style concept has been used in Norwegian rock art studies. She sorted the zoomorphic images into three classes, gestalts, types and styles, and reached the opposite conclusion from Bakka (1973). Style does not represent a higher, more abstract, classificatory level than type. On the contrary, different styles do not express a collective way of thinking motifs, but represent individual artists. Land uplift Some years ago, the Swedish amateur archaeologist Hedberg (2002) noticed that a significant number of rock paintings in Jämtland were on ancient shore terraces formed by late glacial lakes. This is in accordance with the situation for many Northern rock art sites in coastal Norway that are located on ancient seashores. Other sites in northern Sweden are found on later lake shores (Hallström 1938), so perhaps this was not surprising. There is, however, a significant difference between these particular Jämtland sites and the coastal sites and other sites in northern Sweden. The terraces in question were formed during the deglaciation of northern Scandinavia when ice-dammed lakes still existed east of the watershed. They were formed along the lakes when the land to the east was still ice covered (Lundqvist 1973). Hunters could have crossed the mountains from the west this early, but this was no hospitable land. When the ice damming these lakes disappeared, the terraces still existed. Being virtually horizontal, they were suitable for short-term habitation for a long time, and because they were situated high up on the hillsides in a barren land they could also function as suitable lookout places during hunting expeditions. Occasional

vertical rocks on these terraces were found suitable for painting elk and other images. Whether Hedberg is right or not will not be discussed further here, but his observation raises an important question: were Northern rock art panels located on the shore (whether inland or along the coasts) or were their locations sought out because of other qualities, for instance the horizontality and strategic positions of these ancient beaches and terraces? The possibility of dating rock art by means of the Holocene land uplift was recognised a century ago (e.g. Shetelig 1922, 149), but both Brøgger (1925) and Th. Petersen (1922) were sceptical of this dating method. Petersen (1922, 95) pointed to the Southern Scandinavian Ydstines site in Stjørdal that is located 120 m above the sea, corresponding with a Mesolithic level; this site could not have been located on a contemporary shore. Today, panels are known at 150-160 m above sea level in the Stjørdal valley and more than 200 m in the Gauldal valley. In both valleys, these sites are on raised riverbeds. Th. Petersen (1922, 99) rejected the relevance of shoreline dating for the Bøla reindeer, claiming that the qualities of the rock face were decisive for the location of this carving. The only panel he did not hesitate to date by means of land uplift was Hammer I (K. Rygh 1909); he could not imagine that the upper frieze of birds was made by people using ladders. Rather, he suggested, they were made from boats (T. Petersen 1922, 101). Perhaps it was precisely because of the seemingly unreachable position where these images were made that caused the artist(s) to choose this particular location where mysterious images could be looked at with awe and wonder. Carvings in a similar position are found on the River Sagelva in Nordland (Gjessing 1932, Sognnes 2012) and the shallow river is still running below them. However, at the Southern tradition Ydstines I panel, the artist(s) must have used a ladder or scaffold to reach the uppermost carvings. This would be possible to do at Hammer and Sagelva, too. Bøe (1932), on the other hand, found support for shoreline dating of the carvings at the large Vingen site. In his original discussion of the large, ‘naturalistic’ rock carvings in northern Norway, Gjessing noted that they were situated at exceptionally high altitudes; if these sites were shore-bound they should be dated to the Early Mesolithic (Gjessing 1932, 47-48). At that time, only the outermost part of the strandflat in the archipelagos of Træna (Gjessing 1943) and Vega (Bjerck 1983) had emerged from the sea; the mainland coast still mostly consisted of steep cliffs where it was difficult to find places to beach a boat. Elk are among the dominant motifs at these sites, and Gjessing (1932, 51) questioned whether this species had actually migrated into this still barren area at the time indicated by the altitude of the carvings. However, in his later work, Gjessing (1945) apparently took it for granted that even these panels were located on contemporary shores.


Age and Cultural Context

Figure 76. Land uplift curve from Verdal, Nord-Trøndelag. The width of the curve represents one standard deviation for 14C dates from the respective millennium (based on the original in Sveian and Olsen 1984).

The fact that all polished carvings are found at relatively high altitudes has been used as an argument in favour of the relevance for shoreline dating of Northern rock art in formerly submerged areas. However, other factors related to geology and geomorphology may have been equally or even more relevant for selecting places to carve, for instance the particular qualities of the rocks, as mentioned above. Furthermore, in central Norway, dates obtained by means of land uplift do not agree with the stylistic sequence propagated by Shetelig (1922) and Gjessing (1936, 1945), style III panels being found at higher altitudes than style I panels (Lindqvist 1994).

Vingen and Ausevik show that the carvings at these sites most probably were made during the Mesolithic (Lødøen and Mandt 2012; Lødøen 2014).

Gjessing (1936, 176) based his arguments on the existence of two transgressions, in particular the Tapes transgression, which had been identified by geologists some decades earlier. He dated the panels according to their altitudes relative to the levels representing these transgressions. Unfortunately there are very few modern studies of the Holocene land uplift in central Norway, especially along the coast. However, according to studies by Kjemperud (1981) from Frosta and Sveian and Olsen (1984) from Verdal, these transgressions did not affect the Trondheimsfjord basins.

Lindqvist (1994, 160-161) claimed that ‘it was quite possible that rock carvings with purpose were made so close to the shore that the lowermost images were licked by the waves and even periodically submerged’, finding support for this in panels located beside lakes and rivers. He divided the Nordland–Trøndelag tradition into five phases, the earlier one being represented by the polished and ground images in northern Nordland. The other phases are found in central Norway. Phase II is synonymous with Gjessing’s style I, with the exception of the large elk at Bogge I. Lindqvist dated the two earlier phases to the Mesolithic. The remaining three phases were dated to the Neolithic. The maritime motifs were in the later phases. Bardal III and Holte I were classified as belonging to phase I in the Southern tradition, which Lindqvist (1994, 161) dated to the Mesolithic, between phases I and II in the Nordland–Trøndelag tradition (Lindqvist 1994, 163-164), being the oldest rock carvings in central Norway and isolated from the general stylistic development in the region.

More recently, shoreline dating has gained new interest (Bakka 1973; 1979; Mikkelsen 1977; Helskog 1984; 1988; 2012; Hesjedal 1992; 1994; Lindqvist 1994; Ramstad 2000; Lødøen and Mandt 2012). Welinder (1976) questioned Bakka’s use of shoreline dating for the Northern and Southern tradition rock carvings in coastal Sogn and Fjordane. He found it difficult to accept that carvings belonging to these very different traditions should be related to the shore in the same way. In principle, I agree with Welinder, but it is the Southern Scandinavian carvings in this region that are most likely to have been located close to the shoreline, since they are located a few metres above sea level even today. However, radiometric dates from excavations at both

However, an important statistical–methodological problem remains unsolved: in general, co-variation seems to exist between styles and altitudes above the sea, but is this a causal relationship? Carvings could not be made until the rock surfaces in question emerged from the sea, and this makes it possible to obtain maximum dates for the carvings. In principle, the rock art could have been made at any time later than the maximum shoreline date. If marine deposits covered the images during a transgression or a heavy storm, this could happen only if the images were still located close to the sea. Land uplift therefore occasionally may provide a minimum date as well. This was claimed for Hammer VII (Bakka 1975), but I question whether it was actually the case. Northern boats


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway are based on probability ranges for the most probable age of the specimens in question; these dates, therefore, are no proof (Whitley 2005, 61, 72). Curves showing the Holocene land uplift in coastal Norway are not constructed to date rock art, but for geologists to gain overviews of local and regional variations in the relationship between land and sea. In general, they are based on a limited number of radiocarbon dates from deposits in formerly submerged lakes, for instance in Frosta (Kjemperud 1981, 1986) or from organic matter deposited by rivers, like in Verdal (Sveian and Olsen 1984). The number of samples available depends on local conditions. Large parts of each curve are constructed by means of interpolation between these few dates. For the Frosta curve, no datable samples were found to cover the last four millennia.

Figure 77. Maximum dates for a sample of rock art panels in central Norway (after Sognnes 2003).

are rare in the study area and virtually all are found at Hammer and Evenhus. Some images at these two sites are so similar that I find it unlikely that there is a large temporal gap between them. Rather, I would date them all to the same phase, that is, the transition between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, which is the maximum date for the Evenhus panels. It should be taken into consideration that many sites and panels are not only facing the sea but also a gradually widening zone of dry land. This land often forms gently sloping terraces or plains, from which panels and images were visible for an audience standing on firm ground, providing space for performances, which might have been important at sites near meeting places. Bardal I is a good example; here rituals and performances could take place on a shelf above the panel, on the panel itself, as well as on the plain in front of it. Actually, it may have been the combination of a suitable rock surface and dry land in front of it that made a certain locality attractive for making rock art. Shoreline dating of rock art is based on a number of assumptions, above all that the outcrops or boulders in question were decorated when they were about to emerge from the sea or were still on the seashore. In his earlier work, Gjessing (1936, 174) acknowledged that this was not necessarily the case, but later (Gjessing 1945), in general, ignored these reservations. The curves showing the land uplift are based on a limited number of radiocarbon dated organic samples. These statistical dates

The curves therefore present general trends only; minor fluctuations remain undetected. Normally, the land uplift is presented by narrow, smooth curves that represent a special version found to be satisfactory in a long-term geological perspective, but they are unsatisfactory from an archaeological perspective if the purpose is to produce ‘exact’ dates for the emergence of certain rock outcrops from the sea or for dating individual rock carvings. At the Reppen site the situation is slightly different. The images are found on a large located on a raised beach around 24 m above current sea level. Seven metres below, a layer consisting of dark brown pumice was identified, which characterize the so-called N4 shoreline (R. Binns pers. com.). This shoreline is dated to around 4100 BP (R. Binns 1967, 7). This gives an average land uplift of 4.15 mm annually. Using this for the uplift for the next seven metres too, with a correction for the gradually reduction of the uplift (M. Jones 1978, 648), we may suggest that the engraved boulder emerged from the sea around 5.700-5.600 BP. find the engraved boulder emerged from the sea around 5800 BP, which then would be the maximum date for this site (Sognnes 1981, 12-13). A second problem with the available curves is ignored; due to the low number of dates of which these curves are based, the ‘measured’ dates are cursory. Rough maximum dates for sites and panels may be acceptable, although the location of the panels within the local topography also should be taken into consideration. Attempts to date individual engravings on different altitudess within a certain panel (e.g. Kleiva 2006) are, however, highly questionable. Since the curves are based on radiocarbon dates, they should in principle mirror the uncertainties implicit in these dates, showing at least one standard deviation. Based on the dates from which the curve was constructed combined with corresponding dates from archaeological excavations it is theoretically possible to calculate average standard deviations for most phases and periods, which may be used to construct such curves. I have done this for the Verdal curve (Sveian and Olsen 1984; Sognnes 2003, 203). This curve (Figure 76) provides a


Age and Cultural Context graphically more ‘correct’ picture of the statistical wide dates actually given by shoreline dating. Onto this curve, I have plotted the altitudes for the Northern panels, Hammer VI and Evenhus V, and the Southern panel, Gråbrekk I. According to a single-line curve, Hammer VI should be dated to c. 5000 BP, Evenhus V to c. 3700 and Gråbrekk I to c. 2300 BP. According to the curve presented here, the maximum date for Hammer VI is between c. 5400 and 4900 BP, which, following standard procedure, may be written as 5150 ± 250 BP. The date for Evenhus I would be between 3800 and 3300 BP (≈ 3550 ± 250 BP) and for Gråbrekk I between 2400 and 2100 BP (≈ 2250 ± 150 BP). For the Northern tradition panels, one standard deviation gives dates with a ‘precision’ of 500 years. Based on local diagrams from all over Norway, Møller (1987) wrote a computer program, which draws curves for any place in Norway. The curves produced by this program are based on interpolations over areas in between the rather few local curves that actually are constructed. This further emphasises the uncertainties of the curves and, hence, the dates we read out of them. Holmeslet (2002) later updated this program. Svendsen and Mangerud (1987) presented regional curves for Møre and Romsdal and Sør-Trøndelag based on more detailed local studies, which, however, did not include any new curves from the region being studied here. David Simpson later made these curves available for archaeologists (Kleiva 2006). There are some small discrepancies between the curves constructed by Møller and Simpson, but, since the Romsdal and Nordmøre curves cover only a small part of the study area, I have chosen to use Møller’s program, which provides comparable curves for all sites included in the study. Here, I look into a representative sample of maximum dates for Northern rock art sites in central Norway. The sample contains carving sites from the coast (Bjørset, Søbstad, Strand and Reppen) and the Trondheimsfjord area (Stykket, Hell, Lånke, Evenhus, Selset, Bardal, Hammer and Bøla) as well as sites with paintings (Mølnargården, Varghiet, Gjølga, Heggvik, Teksdal, Vasstrand and Honnhammar). Some of these panels have been levelled (Gjessing 1936), but the altitudes of most panels were obtained by interpolation on the Norwegian 1:5000 land use maps with contour lines at 5 m intervals. Figure 77 shows a collective diagram for all the panels (Sognnes 2003a). Each curve represents the land uplift at one of the panels chosen, the altitude being marked by the upper end of vertical lines crossing the respective curve. The lower end of this line marks the approximate time when the rock surface in question emerged from the sea. We find that the majority of the dates fall between 6400 BP and 4500 BP (= Late Mesolithic and Early/Middle Neolithic), with a smaller cluster between c. 4100 BP and 3600 BP (Late Neolithic). Two sites with paintings (Mølnargården I and Varghiet I) fall in the ninth millennium BP (Early Mesolithic). Based on the concentration of the dates, it seems reasonable to hypothesise that the Northern rock art in

central Norway should preferably be dated from the Late Mesolithic through to the Late Neolithic. This is, however, a conclusion based on a one-factor analysis; other locational factors should also be looked into before reaching a final conclusion. The late date for Evenhus shows that this rock art tradition must have lasted into the Early Bronze Age. Regarding the early dates for the paintings at Mølnargården and Varghiet, the latter is located within local topography that has hardly changed since the lake (Gjølgavatnet) became isolated from the sea. The maximum date for this site represents this isolation. Since then, the relationship between rocks and water has been stable. The early maximum date for the Mølnargården site cannot be explained in the same way, but this panel might be associated with some nearby dwelling sites at the front of an ancient terrace approximately 45 m above present sea level. From the forefront of this terrace, a gently sloping plain leads directly to the low hill at the foot of which the paintings are located. Helskog (1999) strongly argued that the rock carvings in Alta were made close to the seashore, which represents the borderline between the three worlds in Sami cosmology (chapter 8). This was further emphasised by Gjerde (2010, 153-154), who saw the shoreline as the most striking feature in the landscape of coastal northern Fennoscandia, the rock art at many sites being placed within the tidal zone, which he claimed was free of vegetation. This is not in agreement with my experience from the coast of western Norway, where kelp grows in the lower part of this zone while the rocks in the upper part are covered by acorn barnacles. The vegetation-free zone is found immediately above the tidal zone, where the rock often is black, being covered by microorganisms. In a detailed study of the Søbstad and Rødsand carvings on the island of Averøy, Kleiva (2006) measured the altitude of each carving and calculated their maximum dates based on average high tides. As the dates lay between 6000 and 4900 BP, these carvings may have been made during the Late Mesolithic (Kleiva 2006, 498499).1 From a methodological point of view, this study, however, raises two questions. First, are such detailed measurements meaningful in view of the statistical significance of the curves available, the quality and exactness of each curve combined with interpolations over large areas where no curves exist, which is the case for the Nordmøre region (see below)? Hopefully future studies will provide more and better curves, but a second problem still remains. The local topography and vegetation are not taken into consideration. When the engraved part of the rock was within the tidal zone, kelp and barnacles would have covered the panel. Furthermore, kelp and sea wrack would cover the shelf below the 1

These detailed measurements correct an unfortunate error made by the present author [(Sognnes 1996) when the interpolated level of the Rødsand site was placed 10 m too high.


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway decorated panels on which the ‘artists’ would be standing, for a long time. Not until this shelf was above the tidal zone would it become a pleasant working place for people making rock carvings. Cultural contexts The cultural context of Northern rock art was brought into the discourse as soon as this art was recognised as a separate tradition. Hansen (1904) claimed that the carvings belonging to the Southern Scandinavian tradition were made by Aryan (Indo-European) speaking people, while the Northern tradition carvings were made by unidentified, pre-Aryan speaking people who settled Scandinavia first. In claiming this, Hansen demonstrated that he was out of line with contemporary Norwegian archaeology and Brøgger (1906) rejected his linking of rock art and peoples. He did, however, agree that the Northern rock art was made during the Stone Age, seeing it as representing what he called ‘the psychology of hunting’. The dating of the then known Scandinavian rock art to the Bronze Age (Montelius 1876) eventually became an obstacle for understanding the Northern rock art. Ekholm (1916) claimed that this tradition should be dated to the Bronze Age, too, and that northern hunter-gatherers learned to make rock art from their neighbouring farmers in the south. However, they preferred to draw their own culturally specific images and symbols. For some time, Brøgger (1925, 74, 83) accepted this late date, but later he returned to his original conclusion (Brøgger 1931, 11). Still, Swedish scholars in general (e.g. Ekholm 1935, 86) were reluctant to accept such an early date for the Northern tradition. Their Norwegian colleagues, however, accepted the long chronology (Shetelig 1922; Gjessing 1932; 1936). For a long time, Hallström (1907, 8; 1938; 1960) seems to have been the only contemporary Swedish scholar who accepted this early date and the implicit cultural context for this rock art. Contextually, the Northern rock art in Norway was soon linked to the northern Scandinavian slate industry, but this industry was little known a century ago, except for stray finds of points and knives made from slate and schist (K. Rygh 1903; Brøgger 1909; Gjessing 1945). Dating these artefacts was, however, difficult; they did not fit into the established material culture sequence, which was based on flint artefacts from southern Scandinavia. During the Neolithic, northern tools and weapons were mostly made from slate and schist, especially along the coasts of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Bothnia. For a long time, these artefacts were seen as inferior ‘replicas’ of the more elaborate southern Scandinavian flint artefacts (e.g. T. Petersen 1920, 25-26). Consequently, they were dated relative to morphologically ‘similar’ types known from Denmark and southern Sweden. Brøgger (1909, 129), however, emphasised that slate artefacts were used in central Norway before the ‘similar’ Neolithic flint artefacts of southern Scandinavian types came into being.

During the early 1960s, Bakka excavated a dwelling site at Ramsvikneset on Radøy, Hordaland, which he dated to the Middle Neolithic. The material culture of the foragers who used this site showed contacts with slate-using ‘subNeolithic’ groups further north along the coast (Bakka 1964, 164). Based on the Ramsvikneset finds, Bakka dated the slate complex to the Middle Neolithic and later, in opposition to Marstrander (1980), he (Bakka 1980) refuted the idea that it lasted through to the Bronze Age. A scholarly disagreement can be identified for Northern rock art, too, especially about the supposed later part which Gjessing (Engelstad 1934; Gjessing 1936)) dated to the Early Bronze Age. This late date seems not to have been generally accepted. In eastern Norway, this problem apparently was solved when Mikkelsen (1977a) re-dated the rock carvings there to the Late Mesolithic. In western Norway, Hagen (1970) dated the carvings at Ausevik, Sogn and Fjordane, to the Bronze Age due to the presence of ring images similar to those present in the Southern Scandinavian tradition. Walderhaug (1998) instead compared these images with Irish and British Megalithic art and, accordingly, dated the Ausevik site to the Neolithic. Interestingly, both Hagen and Walderhaug saw Ausevik as representing one period only, rather than a possible multi-period site. The forming of typological–chronological entities seems to have been the primary aim for generations of archaeologists in Norway. The borders of these entities are, however, artificial, representing differences that hardly existed. These chronological systems are, however, based on studies of artefacts, graves and habitation sites, which can be more easily dated than can rock art. It should, however, be questioned whether these entities are representative for visual culture as well; did changes in material culture necessarily lead to changes in visual culture? This question is relevant for both major Scandinavian rock art traditions. While, for instance, Danish and Swedish archaeologists (e.g. B. Almgren 1987; Kaul 1998) have worked within a short Bronze Age framework, their Norwegian colleagues for generations have rejected this short chronology, claiming that the Southern Scandinavian tradition lasted through to the Early Iron Age (e.g. Gjessing 1935b; Sognnes 2001; 2006) and that this tradition started already in the Neolithic (e.g. Fett and Fett 1941; Marstrander 1963). An argument in favour of this long chronology is the identification of boat images seemingly representing boatbuilding techniques that were not used during the Bronze Age and were not part of the image repertoire found in southernmost Scandinavia. This hypothesis, of course, is open to debate, too. Stone Age dwelling sites have so far not been identified close to Northern rock art sites in the Trondheimsfjord area, but Bakka (1988, 19) reported that deposits containing charcoal had covered parts of the outcrop with the Hammer XIII-XV panels. At Hammersvollen, a croft under Bardal Farm at the hill foot some 750 m southwest of the Bardal I panel, a small dwelling site was excavated a century ago (K. Rygh 1910; T. Petersen 1912). The


Age and Cultural Context deposits found consisted of a shell midden containing charcoal and blackish soil. Parts of the midden were covered by talus. A few artefacts were found in the midden, including two made from flint, a triangular retouched blade which might have been used as a borer, and a small chisel-like axe, and these show that the site was used during the Neolithic (T. Petersen 1912, 11). As stated above, rock art sites in southern Nordland appear to have been located within habitation areas, which, however, have not been investigated. The carved slab from Remmen was removed from its original location and taken to the NTNU Museum in Trondheim in the 1960s together with artefacts collected from several dwellings. The existence of a zoomorphic image among the carved lines on this slab was not recognised until some years later. The Stone Age dwelling sites at Vistnesdalen may cover around 50 000 m2. Slate knives, stone net sinkers, slate and quartzite points and manufacturing debris of flint, quartzite and slate have been recovered from this site since the 1930s (Wik 1984). The large Vingen site in western Norway was recently published in full (Lødøen and Mandt 2012). This site was discovered a century ago and has been studied systematically for most of the twentieth century (Bøe 1932; Bakka 1973; Mandt 1998; Lødøen 2003, Lødøen and Mandt 2012). A total of 2195 individual carvings are known today, 45.2 per cent of which depict quadrupeds, most of which may be identified as red deer. Of special interest for this work is the existence of five images depicting marine mammals and one bird image. However, no boat images have been identified. This underscores the difference between central Norway and other Northern rock art regions. Most carved panels at Vingen are located on and above a narrow terrace on the south side of a cove named Vingepollen. Remains of ancient dwellings have been identified between these panels and on Vingeneset, a promontory north of the cove. The material culture found was surprisingly homogenous and comprised flint, mylonite, quartzite and quartz indicating that the site was occupied during the Late Mesolithic. This is supported by a series of 14C dates. Some carved stones were found in walls surrounding the dwellings. The relation between rock art and dwellings is difficult to establish, but based on their coexistence it seems probable that they actually were contemporary (Lødøen 2003; 2007; Lødøen and Mandt 2012). The plain in front of the Bardal I panel could be a place to search for traces of habitation, but since soil covering the lower part of the panel was removed during the initial investigations, traces that once existed may have been destroyed. Furthermore, the panel is close to a farm track and the farm buildings. Still, a trial excavation might be worthwhile.2 The area above and between the Evenhus 2

A recent gradiometer mapping of the ground in front of the panel reveiled a large amount of charcoal near the right-hand end of the panel. A similar test has been conducted at Hammer (R. Binns pers. com.).

panels is another site that could be looked into, as is the area above and below the Selset panel, which forms a rostrum-like step in the sloping terrain. So far, no systematic archaeological investigations have taken place at Northern rock art sites in the study area, but in some areas rock art has been studied relative to known dwelling sites and stray finds which may provide at least some indications about the cultural context of the rock art. Sørensen (2007) did this in her master thesis dealing with the area around the rock art sites at Søbstad and Rødsand on Averøy. She showed that these and other rock art sites in the region are located in the border zone between the coast and the outer parts of the fjords, the Averøy sites being located in the core area of the Early Mesolithic Fosna industry. The altitudes of the Averøy sites show that their maximum dates, however, are Late Mesolithic. During this period, the core settlement areas had seemingly moved to the outer fjord zone. While hardly any Mesolithic or Neolithic finds are known from the Søbstad area, artefacts from the Late Mesolithic and the Early/Middle Neolithic are found on the Rødsand promontory near the rock art site, but no Late Neolithic finds are known. In the present state of research, the Late Mesolithic and the Neolithic therefore most probably represent the cultural context of the rock art in this area. This corresponds with an early study of Northern rock art in the Trondheimsfjord area where T. Petersen concluded that he knew of no rock art sites in central Norway, which could be dated to the Early Stone Age, the Mesolithic in current terminology (T. Petersen 1922, 104). Slate tools are first and foremost found on the coast and it seems natural to interpret their distribution as evidence for a coastal adaptation primarily based on exploitation of maritime resources by foragers. Contrary to this, the majority of rock art sites are located in the middle and inner Trondheimsfjord area. Furthermore, terrestrial motifs dominate most of the rock art sites, demonstrating a strong interest in cervids in particular. People living in this region had this focus in common with those inhabiting inland parts of northern Scandinavia. The earlier habitation in present-day Norway appears to have been based on an extreme coastal adaptation; subsistence must have been based on marine resources but, unfortunately, hardly any organic matter is preserved from these settlements. Yet, it is surprising to find that rock carvings supposed to date from this early epoch are dominated by images of terrestrial animals which could rarely be observed in the coastal zone (Gjessing 1936). Conclusions Traditional comparisons between rock images from different parts of Europe and within Fennoscandia have not provided any reliable dates for the Northern rock art in central Norway. The ways images look and were drawn vary from region to region and even from site to site. Some basic ways of drawing the images can, however, be


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway identified, but these differences cannot be used for dating individual rock carvings and paintings. The situation is similar when we compare rock images with images carved on artefacts, whether bones or weapons and tools made from slate and schist. However, some correspondence can be recognised between these artefacts and the distribution of the so-called slate or (in Sweden) slate-and-quartzite industry. This gives us some ideas; it is probable that the making of Northern rock art was at least partly contemporary with the slate industry. At present, dwelling sites belonging to this industry, containing knives resembling animals, whales and fish, have mostly been dated to the Middle Neolithic, but we do not know the representativeness of these recently excavated sites compared with the total number of sites. Moreover, we can say nothing about what came first, rock art or the artefacts in question. Here, we should bear in mind Nordbladh’s (1978, 75) warning against drawing conclusions based on direct comparisons between different visual systems. However, indirect landscape contexts provide some clues regarding maximum dates for the rock art. The land uplift curves in Figure 78 show that coastal rock art sites in central Norway cannot be older than around 6000 BP, except perhaps some with paintings. Style in itself provides no reliable dates. This method relies on two presuppositions: (1) certain styles were used for rock carvings or paintings during a certain period, and (2) these styles can be dated by other methods. Apparently, this was the case for Gjessing’s two earlier style groups, but not for his third. It was shoreline dating that gave the necessary support for his dating of the two earlier style groups, but it gave a contradictory result for the most stylised images. Shoreline dating has apparently given the most reliable results and this method has gained a renaissance in recent years (Helskog 1984; Hesjedal 1994; Lindqvist 1994; Ramstad 2000; Gjerde 2010). There should be no doubt that this method is of special importance for establishing maximum dates for rock art sites located in formerly submerged areas. However, the quality of these dates depends on the quality and reliability of land uplift curves constructed by geologists and palynologists. A priori the rock art may have been made at any time after the outcrops with panels emerged from the sea. On the other hand, carvings exist, for instance at Bardal I and Bøla IV, on which we can no longer identify original peck-marks. This indicates that the carvings in question were made a long time ago. For these images, it seems unlikely that Bednarik’s (2001; 2012) method of dating carvings by means of micro-vane erosion can be used, other than to establish a minimum age. When we compare information gained from studies of the Holocene land uplift with the suggested unilinear stylistic development, we run into problems regarding the dating of the small, schematic images found at Bogge I, Holte I and Bardal III. These panels are found at higher altitudes

than the stylistically early, large, ‘naturalistic’ images at Bardal I and Bøla I (at Bogge both styles are found on the same panel). Following Kühn (1954), we might see these images as representing two opposite artistic poles, the making of rock art in this region starting as small-scale ‘imaginative’ images being made at a few sites before ‘sensoric’ images took over. After some time, the artists started moving towards the pole of imaginative art, which was made at a larger number of sites before the making of Northern rock art came to an abrupt end at the transition to the Bronze Age. Here again we face a problem; while the carvings at Bardal I (Gjessing 1936) are strongly weathered, those at Holte I (Møllenhus 1968) are far better preserved, which may indicate that the Holte carvings are much later than the Northern carvings at Bardal. The rocks in question, however, are different. At Bardal the rock consists of a fine-grained greywacke sandstone with calcite. The rock at Holte, the surface of which is much better preserved, do not contain calcite, the rock consisting of phylittic clay slate (Prestvik 1981). Further, the local topography indicates that natural deposits may have covered the Holte carvings during a long time. In sum, we find that the maximum dates for Northern rock art sites in central Norway cover the time span from the Late Mesolithic through to the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. This means that the Evenhus carvings might have been made and visited during the first centuries of the Bronze Age when the first distinct Southern Scandinavian Bronze Age type boat images were made in the Trondheimsfjord area (Kristiansen 2003). My impression is that too much emphasis has been put on the position of panels relative to the shore and the littoral zone in our attempts to date Scandinavian rock art. Above, I have pointed out some methodological weaknesses inherent in this method when using land uplift curves that were constructed for other purposes. These curves normally cannot be used to give exact dates of either rock art or shore-bound dwelling sites. They do, however, give a general picture of the Holocene land uplift within a certain area. The landscape context has been ignored in most attempts to date Northern rock art sites by means of ancient shorelines. The analyses have been based on one factor, the sea level. The vast majority of panels face the sea, but at the same time the images show a clear distinction between up and down; animal’s legs point down, boats are oriented horizontally with the keel facing down, etc. People normally should be able to stand and work in front of the panels or stand on rocks that were free of barnacles, mussels and kelp. The images should be seen by people standing or sitting in front of the panels, whether on the shore or in boats or on rafts. Considering tidal and seasonal changes in sea level combined with strong winds and waves, it seems probable that most carved or painted rocks were located some metres above contemporary sea level, as were spectators. For many sites, suitable landing


Age and Cultural Context places for boats were necessary for people to come ashore and assemble at the rock art. The Selset panel in Kvennavika (Gjessing 1936) may illustrate this. These carvings, which apparently depict halibut or flounders, are found on a small rock outcrop at the inner end of a plateau that slopes gently towards the sea. The outcrop, too, faces the sea. The fish, however, are apparently swimming towards a point above and behind the outcrop, the top of which may have acted as a kind of rostrum (Sognnes 2006). In the inner part of the terrace below, space was available for many people to congregate. Boats could be beached on the fjord side of the plateau, even as much as 10 m below there would be little problem landing a boat. The bay was fairly well protected from waves, but the adjacent narrow sound (Skarnsundet) has strong tidal currents, which necessitate boats being landed above the high tide level. A second example can be found at Bardal, where the main panel is located on the northwestern side of a plateau about 39-43 m above present sea level. Below this level is a steep slope down to around 25 m above sea level. Further down, the land slopes gently towards the present

seashore. Small boats could easily be landed both on the upper plateau and the slope below. This is also the case on the plain further down, but here the horizontal distance between the engraved panel and the sea increases rapidly. At Bardal, any sea level between about 23 and 43 m would be relevant for dating the making of Northern engravings on this panel. The makers of the Bronze Age and Iron Age engravings must have walked even longer distances. Summing up, we may conclude that it is still extremely difficult to reach any reliable conclusion about the age of the Northern rock art in the study area, except that rock art making in central Norway may have started around 6000 BP. However, we find indications that most zoomorphic images engraved on open-air rocks, preferably depicting elk and whales, were made during the Middle Neolithic and were associated with the (sub)Neolithic Slate Complex. Furthermore, we have some contextual data indicating that decorated rock shelters and caves were used esoterically during the Early Bronze Age. This corresponds fairly well with the maximum date for the Evenhus site in central Trondheimsfjord.



Interpreting rock art Interpreting rock art is a complicated and tedious process. The fact that our interpretations are based on the presentday situation combined with data collected during the last two centuries represents a general problem because the quality of these data varies. The main problem, however, is that we as ‘modern’ or ‘post-modern’ humans use our knowledge and experiences to draw conclusions about people and their economies and social lives thousands of years ago. The foundation of these conclusions is normally a fragmentary material culture or, as is the case for rock art, a fragmentary visual culture. A large part of the rock art that once existed is now lost because of weathering. This is the case even for the relatively late rock art of Scandinavia. This problem cannot be solved; we cannot quantify these losses and thus cannot estimate the representativeness of the sample we have at hand. Yet, we go beyond mere descriptions of the rock art, trying to place it within its societal framework, searching for the people who created it, how they made it, and why. Our reflections and speculations around the rock art as well as our interpretations may be erroneous, but the fact that we are wrong may actually lead to new and more ‘correct’ interpretations. Attempts to interpret rock art take place at many levels; for Northern rock art, however, interpretations have mostly focused on two levels, which we may claim represent each end of a continuum. At one end, we have the deciphering of each individual image or symbol, whether it is a depiction of an elk or a reindeer, a whale or a bird, a boat, a weapon or a drum, etc. (e.g. Smits 1985). These identifications seem to be grasped intuitively by most researchers, based on morphological similarities between images and real animals. In particular, the large, ‘naturalistic’ images that were discovered in central Norway during the 1890s could easily be identified at the species level: elk at Bardal (Lossius 1897) and Bogge (Ziegler 1901) and reindeer at Bøla (Lossius 1899). This is not surprising taking modern research on perception and cognitive processes into consideration. Detecting and identifying animals is of utmost importance for foragers whether as prey or predator, and a sideways profile view of animals is an effective and dependable means of identifying an animal; contour outline drawing was used almost universally in prehistoric art (Hodgson 2013).

We may, however, face other difficulties at this level, too. We classify the images according to modern biological taxonomic practices, but we do not know whether these classifications would have any relevance for Stone Age people. What may have been of interest was, for instance, that the birds were waterfowl, not whether they were geese or ducks. This problem is well known in Australia where it has been documented that modern classifications of rock art zoomorphs by no means correspond with the way Aborigines experience the world (e.g. Taçon 1988; Bednarik 2013). I will discuss just a few interpretations, mainly focusing on those that have already been presented for the Northern rock art. Yet, I aim to present some new ideas on this subject, too. My impression before starting this is that we should not focus on just one or a few interpretations that are claimed to be valid for Northern rock art in all regions where this visual culture occurs. Aspects of several different interpretations may be relevant, varying between regions and between sites, demonstrating the complexity of the material. Encounters I see encounters as the most basic precondition for the existence of rock art, the concept being relevant at several levels. Here, I discuss the rock panels as loci for encounters between humans and rocks, the hidden powers that might exist inside the rocks, on the rock face as a membrane between the human world and the underworld, and as a gateway to this underworld. I further emphasise encounters between humans and animals, and also between (images of) different animals that normally would never meet; humans in the flesh, animals being symbolically present; whales symbolically meeting elk. Natural lines forming fragmented zoomorphic images on the rock faces at Åmnes and Högberget form an important part of the background for the following reflections. Again we are facing the problem of perception. Most people see only cracks on these rock faces, while some may observe that lines may form parts of fragmented outlines of ‘drawings’ representing cervids. This apparently was the case for Gjerde who noticed a vertical crack in the middle of the Högberget I panel that he interpreted as representing a river (Gjerde 2010, 368369), but apparently did not notice the incomplete natural animal. Lines like these, and also colours and other


Presence special structures and textures of the rocks, may have been decisive for the specific location of rock images. These permanent structures are there for everybody to see, but people may also have experienced some special non-permanent situations at these locations; meeting a herd of elk or a bear, special patterns created by light and shadows, water seeping from the cracks on an otherwise dry rock. This latter situation, for instance, is found at Bardal I, where water continues to seep from many cracks over an otherwise dry rock for days after it has stopped raining; the rock apparently is crying. This phenomenon should be added to the already mentioned rows of ‘eyes’ on this rock. During encounters like these, the rock face plays the major role; humans are passers-by who stop and look, experiencing something special and different. They might wonder how these strange structures came into being and what kind of powers made this happen. They experience something to be remembered and a place to be revisited. We may also imagine a shaman seeking a special place for his or her journeys into altered states of consciousness and drawing images on the rock, commemorating places and journeys. The relationship between rocks and humans changes during the process of image making. Humans create images by adding paint or more or less rhythmically pecking or pounding lines into the rock face. But then the rock changes its appearance, revealing something of its inner, otherwise unknown, substance, making the image gradually emerge and become visible to humans. This is most apparent for carvings cutting through the outer, weathered skin of the rock, revealing its inner, original and secret colour. Animals and other motifs gradually emerge from the rock. Over time, the rock will take back the image which, due to micro-vegetation and seepage, gradually, but sometimes quickly, will regain the colour it had before the images were made. By re-pecking the lines, humans can help recreate the images. For the polished images in northern Norway, the shallow furrows are still visible as fragmented lines formed by light spots; here, the micro-vegetation seems not to have been able to grow on the polished minerals. However, micro-erosion on the non-polished rock face helps people today to identify the images in question. Removing this microvegetation may make the polished ‘lines’ virtually invisible. In some cases, the first image made remained as a solitary image on the rock, but new images were added on most panels, and we witness encounters between old and new images depicting animals that normally never meet; elk and whales coming together, which does not happen in the real world. The man-made images soon become an integrated part of the rock; new generations of humans will have no recollection of the once pristine rock face. The making of images may be a way for humans to reach into and come in contact with powers inherent in the rock. We may, however, also turn this around; it may be a way for animals and/or spirits inside the rock to enter the world of humans.

While the presence of these rock images may seem eternal, the presence of humans is temporary; after some time, the rock and its images encounter new generations of people; on rare occasions, or more regularly, young people are present during ceremonies celebrating their transition from childhood to adulthood, helping more images to emerge. During this transition phase, neophytes left alone in front of the rock art might have waited for their personal encounters with other worlds like the vision quest rituals practised by North American natives (e.g. Keyser and Klassen 2001). Hunters perhaps sought the rock images during their preparations for difficult and potentially dangerous hunts. It may even be a shaman who informs this world about his or her visions during travels to the world behind the rock faces. If the images were made in the tidal zone, they would tell about meetings with another part of the underworld and, as Helskog (1999) emphasised, at these sites we witness meetings between three worlds: this world, the upper world and the underworld. Images that are part of this world at the same time move between the underworld and this world as the tides change. The process of making images on rocks takes place on a personal level, but later visits to the sites may take place at a group level. If people are to meet other people at these sites, there must be room for these meetings to take place. If these people were to meet the animals on the rocks as well, they must be visible, too; they cannot be under water. They might, however, be experienced as coming out of the water, but it is difficult to predict when this will happen because the distance between low and high water varies not only with the lunar cycle but also with the time of day as well as seasonally, and storms may create extra high-tide levels. This, of course, is speculation, but these speculations demonstrate that the relationship between rock images and humans may vary considerably. They also show that many interpretations may be combined. Here, I am primarily dealing with presence, above all the presence of rock art, without which this monograph would never have been written. I am also dealing with the presence of humans, since humans made these images and experienced them. The artists must have been present at each particular site at least once, when the images were made; we may see the sites as places of encounters. In addition, we may be dealing with places where rock art from different periods made by different groups of people meet, like at Bardal I (Figure 78). Did the artists who worked within the different rock art traditions actually meet at this site, or did they only meet indirectly via the carvings already made and being made? The location of Northern rock art within its landscapes has gained increased focus in recent decades (e.g. Helskog 1988; 2012; Sognnes 1989; 1994b; Gjerde 2002, 2010; Stafseth 2006; Myrholt 2007). The fact that most sites where paintings are preserved are vertical panels, sometimes protected by overhanging rock, in areas that are now considered remote and hidden, has been known


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway

Figure 78. The Bardal I panel in Steinkjer contains around rock carvings from different periods (E. M. Skeie photo)

for a long time (e.g. Hagen 1976, 132). This distribution may, however, primarily be the result of weathering processes.

more solid basis for statistical evaluations: for instance, confirming or rejecting tendencies towards clustering. Onto the rocks

I agree with Nash (2000, 10) that the locations of the rock art were deliberately, not randomly, chosen. We find that rock paintings are located at special features on the cliffs, like distinct crevices (Myrholt 2007) or at ‘hyperimages’ (Slinning 2005). Frequently, rock carvings, too, are located at conspicuous geological or topographical features (Sognnes 1998, see chapter 5). In addition, we find that different images may be located at certain altitudes above sea level or be clustered on the panels, for instance at Nämforsen (Forsberg 1993) and Bardal (Sognnes 2008). For more than a century, it has been claimed that Stone Age foragers made the Northern rock art. For how long and during which periods the making of these images lasted should, however, still be debated. Yet, as stated above, within the study area the majority appear to have been made during the Neolithic when farming became common in southern Scandinavia and probably in central Norway as well. Studying the distribution and location of known sites may provide information that helps to reveal the existence of hitherto unknown rock art sites. The great number of rock painting sites discovered in Finland since the late 1960s (e.g. Lahelma 2008; Kivikäs 2009) and in northern Sweden (Viklund 1999; 2002) amply demonstrates this. Today, we have identified far more Northern rock art panels and images than half a century ago. The number known in central Norway has increased by more than 350 per cent since the mid-1930s and today should form a

In Norway, the rock art discourse has to a large extent focused on the imagery and to a minor extent on the rock faces on which these images were painted or carved. However, the most basic and fundamental question of all has hardly been addressed: why was it so important, apparently necessary, to transfer mental images onto the rocks in certain regions at certain times? This question is extremely difficult to answer. Yet, we have some starting points for our search for answers. First, the making of rock art was restricted in time and space. Second, this activity was associated with presence. Third, it probably has something to do with communication, between humans and nature represented by the rocks and between humans via the rocks. Fourth, compared with other media, images on rocks, especially carvings, will normally last longer than images incised on wood, bone and antler, and at the same time they are more visible. They become a physically lasting part of the past, as memories in landscapes shaped by actions of the ancestors, like the Dreaming rock art in Australia (Flood 1997). Perhaps they involve a celebration of origins (Bradley 2000, 28). Making rock art is a way of marking certain points in the landscape and turning them into places. The geographical distribution of this art as we know it today may be flawed by weathering processes, yet mapping the presently known distribution and studying sites and panels within their geographical and topographical contexts have revealed some important patterns. The placing of the images may be closely associated with the ideas behind


Presence why they were made. The codes behind the making of rock art must have been known at least to some people living at the time when it was made and for some time afterwards. Was the rock art made during leisure time as art for art’s sake? In a way, we can see Shetelig’s opinion on the Northern rock art in Norway as being related to this way of thinking. He studied the rock art from an aesthetic point of view and considered the earlier part of this tradition as ‘primitive nature art’, but as art (Shetelig 1922, 132). Yet, he considered most of the images as ‘simple’ and neither presented them nor discussed them in his book on the prehistory of Norway (Shetelig 1930). Shetelig apparently searched for artistic qualities in a modern sense in Scandinavian rock art but, with a few exceptions, he found no such qualities. We clearly are dealing with a phenomenon that lies inherent in mankind; rock art is known from virtually every part of the world. However, in a global perspective the making of rock art was not synchronous. In Europe, people started making art in caves more than 30 000 years ago (Clottes 1998; Clottes et al. 1996), but the making of rock art in central Norway started perhaps as late as around 6500 years ago. Large parts of the European continent apparently have no prehistoric rock art at all. The rock art of Scandinavia is one of the shorter rock art traditions, yet we are dealing with images that may have been made during 5000 years, from around 6500 to 1500 BP. The making of this rock art may, however, have started some millennia earlier in the northern part of Nordland (Gjessing 1936; 1945; Hesjedal 1992; 1994). Northern rock art covers about half of this time span in central Norway, which is the only region that may be considered a major area for both Scandinavian rock art traditions. In theory, this situation provides greater possibilities than elsewhere to grasp the essence of prehistoric rock art making in northern Europe. The making of rock art is not only a question of whether people were capable of doing it; as such, it is not a question of human brain capacity. True, the development of the brain must have reached a certain level, but the worldwide distribution and high age of the earliest rock art demonstrate that other forces triggered this particular human behaviour, also in Scandinavia. These forces were most likely social, the result of contacts between individuals as well as between groups of humans. Within their own territory, members of a kinship group, band, clan or tribe would know the locations of their own rock art and why it was made, but would rarely know the location of rock art made by other groups in their territories, although the meaning of the images could be similar. However, the observed ‘standardised’ ways of marking the landscape with rock art imply that certain characteristics were sought for to help contemporary

visitors, as well as modern scholars, to identify rock art locations in unfamiliar landscapes. Within the study area, we find that a limited range of rock art motifs was chosen. Most animals and, in particular, plants living in the region were of no interest as motifs in contemporary visual culture. Some decorated panels are large, some small. At some, many people could assemble; other sites are less public and appear to be more secretive (Sognnes 1994). Furthermore, we find that making and/or experiencing rock art was apparently of no interest to people living in this region during the first millennia after the Early Mesolithic settlers arrived. Data obtained from archaeological excavations show that during the Late Mesolithic habitation became more sedentary and contacts with Neolithic farmers in southern Scandinavia and beyond were established. At the same time, fjords and other inland districts apparently became exploited in new ways (Marstrander 1954; Alsaker 2005). The choice of motifs in Northern rock art has been discussed for more than a century, but this discussion has largely taken place within the paradigmatic interpretation of hunting magic. The zoomorphs were seen as representing major game animals, although archaeological excavations revealed that a wider range of animals actually were hunted and eaten. Furthermore, hardly any hunting scenes were depicted on the rocks; ‘man the hunter’ is rarely present. This is a situation similar to Palaeolithic cave art, the study of which strongly inspired early studies of the Northern rock art in Norway (Shetelig 1922; 1925; Gjessing 1932; 1936). The criticism launched against the hunting magic interpretation of Palaeolithic cave art (Ucko and Rosenfeld 1968) is clearly valid for Northern rock art, too. Evidence of animals actually being hunted and eaten is unfortunately scarce. Hardly any exists at all from the central and inner Trondheimsfjord area. Surprisingly few Stone Age and Bronze Age open-air dwelling sites are known from this area and only a handful have been investigated. Test excavations have revealed the existence of cultural deposits in which neither tools nor organic matter were found, for instance at open-air sites at Rotvoll and Berg in Trondheim excavated by the author, which were radiometrically dated to the Bronze Age and the Neolithic, respectively. This was also the case for the Sandhalsen rock shelter at Vasstrand described above. A rock shelter at Hammersvollen, a croft on Bardal Farm, yielded only cattle and capercaillie bones, the deposits being dominated by molluscs (T. Petersen 1912). Remains of a Stone Age occupation layer were found under a shallow rock shelter at Hegge Farm in Stjørdal. Digging of a well shortly before the investigation took place had disturbed this site, which contained later deposits, too. Only bones from domestic animals were found (Hougen 1929).


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway

Figure 79. Documenting the first encounter between rock art and researchers at Reppen in Fosnes. The originally horizontal boulder was about to be blasted when the carvings were discovered (author’s photo).

Solsem cave on the island of Leka may be added to this list, too (T. Petersen 1914), although the deposits found there have been dated to the Bronze Age and later. Both prey and domestic animals are represented (Sognnes 2009); remains of cervids were, however, not found. Among the mammals, various species of seals dominate, but also cattle, goats, sheep and horses are represented, as are terrestrial and aquatic birds. Bones from cod, herring and flounders were identified, too. Several caves and rock shelters on the coast were excavated a century ago. In general, deposits found there were dated to the Early Iron Age. Seals and red deer were most frequent in Hestneshula, a cave on Hitra (T. Petersen 1910), but elk were present, too. Fish bones (mostly cod) dominated. Various birds were present, too, as were molluscs and domestic animals (cattle, pigs and horses). In the Dale rock shelter in Bjugn, K. Rygh (1912) found that seal and elk bones dominated, while fish bones were scarce. The only domestic animals were sheep and cattle. Summing up, we find that most excavations have revealed a mixture of prey and domestic animals. Among the animals represented in rock art, we find only elk and deer together with whales and aquatic birds, the latter being present at only a few rock art sites. The finds from these few early excavations are most likely not representative for the animals exploited by Neolithic people in this region. They do, however, confirm that the rock art

depicts only a small selection of the many animals hunted and eaten during this period. Place and presence When artists made rock art, they turned locales into places. The existence of images is what separates these places from an infinite number of similar topographical features. That a certain feature has become a special place may lead to it being visited by humans for generations to come. Why some of these features were chosen for locating paintings or carvings is, however, difficult to decide. They may have been chosen because something happened at these particular spots, or was claimed to or believed to have happened there. The spot may have been singled out due to the presence of certain minerals, certain colours or certain shapes of the rocks, or because the rocks create a distinct echo. The latter may actually be the case for the Søbstad site (Sørensen 2008). The making of images may also have been triggered by what can be seen from the particular spot because the surface was located close to a dwelling or meeting site, or had an isolated or remote location relative to contemporary habitations. Most Northern rock art sites were forgotten for thousands of years; they stopped being places. However, during the last two centuries, many sites have regained their status, but within new settings and their original meanings have been lost.



Figure 80. Natural marks resembling animal drawings on rocks. A: Åmnes, Meløy, Nordland; B. Högberget, Sollefteå, Västerbotten, Sweden (author’s photos).

We may visit sites and panels many times, yet we tend to ignore the location of the rock art at small-scale levels. Discussing sympathetic magic, shamanism, totemism, animism, etc. at a general level, we ignore the encounters ancient people had with the rocks and the art. We also tend to ignore our own encounters. We cannot recreate encounters of the past, but may be able to grasp something universally human in focusing more on our own encounters with the sites and images. As stated above, rock art is the result of encounters between humans and nature. We may, however, define different kinds of encounters. The first is humans encountering a pristine rock surface. This encounter reaches a new level when people start making images and symbols meant to last on the rock face. These acts change the relationship between humans and nature, and also the encounters new generations of people would experience with the rocks. A different kind of encounter takes place when the rock art is re-discovered. Normally, this happens when a few people only are present. The encounters between people and rocks enter yet another level when a rock art site is opened to the general public guided in groups. These encounters between modern spectators and rock art are personal. Many people may be present at the same time, experiencing the same physical conditions, but they may not see and observe the same. In bright sunlight, they may be able to see details that otherwise are overlooked; during overcast weather they may hardly see anything at all, but on a wet, rainy day many details otherwise not seen may be visible. After finishing my survey of the Lånke panels (Sognnes 1983), I looked for more carvings near the known panels, most of which were unknown when I started my investigation of the site. I found nothing new, and when I returned to the Lånke III panel that was documented a few weeks before, I still saw nothing. Could I have found more on a day with more favourable light conditions? Perhaps, but the Lånke site was identified as a place, being located at the foot of the distinct, crescent-shaped

Tønsåsen ridge; a few more identified images would not change this. Trained rock art scholars may observe details that an average spectator will not notice, but a casual visitor with no special expectations may notice details that have remained unobserved by scholars for decades, which was the situation for the boat images at Honnhammar I. Parallel to my own slow recognition of the existence of these images, they were independently noticed by a local artist. Ambiance, too, influences our experiences. Being part of a large crowd in front of a rock art panel may be felt as a boring experience, while being alone at the same place at the moment the sun starts shining down on the images, its rays being filtered through the branches of large pine trees, may give the spectator an impression and feeling of visiting a consecrated place. The circumstances of a discovery vary considerably. The Hammer I panel may have been known locally for some time, but its reported discovery (K. Rygh 1909) was triggered by the publication of the very first study of the Southern tradition rock art in central Norway (K. Rygh 1908). The carvings on the Reppen boulder (Figure 79) were discovered while the landowner was clearing new land for cultivation. Within the area was an isolated, large, but low, boulder that he decided to blast, and the boulder was lifted to a vertical position before the blasting was to take place. However, before this was going to happen, the landowner, while walking in the field, noticed several small whale images in the low winter sun. More recent discoveries of ‘new’ rock art sites are to a large extent the result of changes in perception, too. Even after many visits to a certain site, experienced scholars may discover features previously overlooked. This was the case at the Southern tradition Leirfall site in Stjørdal (Marstrander and Sognnes 1999), where numerous small cubic scars caused by weathered pyrite crystals loosening from the surface were noticed, many of which are clustered around major groups of carvings. These bright yellow crystals may have been of importance for placing the carvings at these particular spots. One of these


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway crystals may actually have been located in the centre of a group of concentric rings. Since then, similar scars and partly weathered crystals still in place have been noticed on several other carved panels in the area (Birgisdóttir and Rullestad 2010). The shape of a cross-like painting at Honnhammar VIII (Sognnes 1995a) tends to change with the light and air humidity, perhaps even with other atmospheric conditions. This is reflected in photographs taken between 1990 and 2010. On a day with unfavourable light conditions, this image would remain unnoticed; red paint was actually noticed at this particular spot by Hallström (1938, 396), who did not see the cross. Some Northern panels are visited by a considerable number of visitors annually, for instance the Bøla reindeer, which seems to be the best known and most photographed single rock carving in northern Scandinavia. On average, around 25 000 people annually sign the visitors’ book (J. B. Mohrsen pers. comm.). The minds of these visitors on arrival are tuned to look for this particular carving, which for more than one and a half centuries was the only carving known at this site, residing in splendid isolation by the side of a cascade on the River Bøla. As stated above, the discovery of four more panels led to a change in the behaviour of the visitors. In this land of winter sport aficionados, the large skier at Bøla IV (Sognnes 2007b), which is barely visible, has now gained as much interest as the reindeer. Today, visitors move around in distinctly different ways from what they did some decades ago. Visitors do, of course, notice large cracks and depressions in the rocks, but smaller details tend to be ignored, as was the case for the carvings at the Sandhalsen rock shelter. Th. Petersen (1931d) noticed, chalked and photographed parts of the later identified boat image, together with a possible anthropomorph, but he believed that these lines were natural. Lichen and algae in combination with dense spruce trees filtering and changing the natural light contributed to reduce the visibility of these carvings. Being present In chapter 5, I showed that natural features in the rocks might be decisive for why people decided to decorate a certain rock surface. This is exemplified by large red concretions on the Gjølga panel, and probably some of the Honnhammar panels as well (Linge 2014). Cracks and fissures on other panels may have had a similar effect. Here, I present an example from Åmnes in Meløy, Nordland (Figure 80A). Within a cluster of irregular glacial marks, a group of marks resemble a fragmentary outlined drawing of a cervid, consisting of parts of the neck and back together with the front of the head and an eye. Most carvings at this site (Gjessing 1932) are found on a number of low, wave-like, parallel ridges immediately below this ‘hyperimage’. As signifiers, these marks are added to the distinct wavy shapes of the rocks that consist of especially fine-grained granite.

Another example (Figure 80B) is found at Högberget in Sollentuna, northern Sweden. Some vague red paintings are found at the foot of a large vertical cliff. Immediately to the left and above these paintings, we find some natural lines that together resemble fragments of the contour line of a cervid, marking the throat and neck, parts of the back and the hind leg. A second panel with paintings is found higher up on the cliff, and a large system of pitfalls used for catching elk is located close to the lower panel (Lindgren 2004; Gjerde 2010). These two examples may be compared with incomplete zoomorphic images in Franco-Cantabrian cave art (e.g. Leroi-Gourhan 1982, 63) drawn in an abbreviated technique showing the head and back of a mammoth and the back and mane of a horse, which is enough for a trained eye to identify these animals. The difference is that the abbreviated ‘images’ at Åmnes and Högberget consist of natural lines and therefore are not as likely to be identified as representing zoomorphs. Whether Stone Age people could identify these incomplete ‘images’ on the rocks is unknown. They may not have noticed them at all, but in view of their more direct contact with nature, they most likely would be more aware of anomalies than are modern Western people. Our ability to discern these similarities may be due to our training in identifying man-made images on rocks. However, if Stone Age people did notice these line patterns as fragmented zoomorphs, this would have added an extra quality to the rock, triggering the making of more images. This probably was the case, since the human visual system has the advantage of regarding features or ambiguous surfaces like a rock face with the slightest suggestion of fauna as an animal (Hodgson 2013, 3). ‘Hyperimages’ (Helvenston and Hodgson 2010) like these are not common, but they do exist and it is surprising that trained archaeologists and rock art scholars who have visited these sites apparently have not noticed them, in particular when they exist close to well-known rock art; we are so busy looking for artificial lines and shapes that we do not observe the natural ones. I see this as an example of a general problem: facing a rock face with or without man-made images, we see what we are trained to see (Sognnes 2001b). Transcending this culturally created barrier of perception is, however, vital if the study of rock art is to develop further. The reindeer carvings at Hell are located at one of the very few panels at the Steinmohaugen hillock that were suitable for preserving (perhaps even making) rock carvings (Gjessing 1936, 105). At Lånke, the nearest Northern tradition site to Hell, images were carved on pockets of fine-grained matrix in coarse conglomerate. Of special interest here is that these two hillocks are sites are within sight of each other (Figure 81). The large Bardal I panel has already been mentioned and will be returned to later. The sheer size and shape of this panel would be attractive for rock art. In addition, the converging rows of oval grooves make this panel different from virtually all other rock art panels in Scandinavia.



Figure 81. Steinmohaugen hillock with the Hell rock carvings seen from the Tønsåsen ridge, Lånke (author’s photo).

Returning to Søbstad (Møllenhus 1968a), the carvings at this site are on roughly vertical panels, the surface of which varies between concave and convex, as if we are looking at a vertical, petrified sea surface. I find it most probable that the artists who made the carvings noticed this, too. The more gently sloping, carved rock at Åmnes (Gjessing 1932) not only differs petrologically from the surrounding rock, it also forms roughly parallel series of wave-like ridges and depressions. Metaphorically, we may, here, be witnessing a petrified sea surface, but this surface slopes towards the real sea below. At Sagelva (Gjessing 1932), a river in Nordland, two ‘naturalistic’ carvings depicting reindeer are found near the top of a cliff that rises vertically from the riverbed. Behind this cliff, the land in general is flat, but consists of parallel, low ridges and depressions. Standing on top of the cliff, turning our backs towards the river, we metaphorically are again facing waves in a petrified sea. These are just a few examples of nature’s possible impact on the location of rock art. As stated above, Norwegian archaeologists and rock art scholars, with the major exception of Knut Helskog (e.g. Helskog and Høgtun 2004), until recently seem to have taken little interest in the panels per se, although Brøgger (1925, 91) specifically drew attention to the shape and qualities of the rocks. The examples presented here should not be held as representative for the special qualities of each individual panel, but the shape and colour of the rock faces may explain why prehistoric people created rock art at particular sites. The peculiar behaviour of the River Bøla immediately above its lower waterfall must have been a major reason for making the rock carvings at this particular site, where

around 35 individual images are now identified. Some hundred metres upstream, the river runs in an S-shaped channel cutting through a low ridge created by meltwater during the Early Holocene deglaciation. This channel ends some metres above the valley in a small waterfall or cascade. The Bøla I and II panels are located at the mouth of this channel, Bøla II between the two main branches of the cascade. After flowing almost horizontally for about 50 m (passing Bøla IV), the river forms a larger waterfall, which is the final one before it reaches Lake Snåsa. During heavy rain and snow melting, the upper cascade may become as much as 30 m wide, causing the Bøla I and II panels to disappear under large amounts of water. Upstream, Bøla III may be submerged, too. In winter, the cascades sometimes freeze to walls of ice (Sognnes and Mohrsen 2004). When the carvings disappear under the cascades, the river makes a loud noise that may attract people. Goldhahn (2002) drew attention to the sound made by the large Nämforsen waterfall I northern Sweden. Clearly the noise made by the river descending the waterfall would guide people to this particular location. Goldhahn (2002, 54) further emphasised the close relationship between the Bøla reindeer and the running water. However, when the water level and the noise made by these rivers are at their maximum, the rock carvings paradoxically do not seem to be there. The seashore, too, is a border zone between elements that are constantly changing. The sea level changes with the tides and seasons, as well as with wave action. When, in addition, the wind blows, one of nature's most spectacular performances is being staged here. Beaches are eroded, sand dunes moved; the sound of wind and roaring waves increases the dramatic effects in an otherwise quiet


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway landscape. Many Northern rock art sites were located near the shore, and Coles (1991, 133) may be right when he assumed that sounds were just as important as visions for localising some of these sites. An extra high and noisy water level may make it impossible to ford a river and thus for people living on either side of the river to meet. On the other hand, it might be the great fluctuations of the border between land and water and the appearing and disappearing of rock images that made these places of special interest to ancient people and one reason why they were marked with man-made images and signs. The number of Northern rock art sites in central Norway located by rivers and streams is, however, limited. A small single elk image is located on the bank of the stream between the Nytjønnan lakes in Finnli (Sognnes 2003b). Like at Bøla, this carving is inundated during heavy rain and snow melting and apparently ceases to exist and, of course, it is covered by snow and ice in winter. Two small panels at Duved in Jämtland (Sandström 2000), across the border from the Stjørdal valley, are of particular interest for their shifting relationship between land and water. The panels containing elk images are so close to the northern bank of the river (Indalsälven) that parts of the carvings seem to be continuously submerged. I have visited this site several times in summer and the carvings were submerged on most of these occasions. However, in one dry summer all the carvings were above water. The Duved carvings thus may be searched for in vain but, when our wished-for encounter with them comes true, we realise that we have experienced something rare and very special. Creating presence The most evident worldwide proofs of human presence at rock art sites are imprints of hands together with hand stencils. No such imprints are known from Northern rock art sites in Norway, but they occur in eastern Finland, where, however, only painted hands are found (Kivikäs 2009). Footprints are common in the Southern tradition, accounting for around 20 per cent of the rock carvings in Stjørdal (Sognnes 2001). Some carved hand images also occur in this tradition (Marstrander and Sognnes 1999; Sognnes 2001). The nearest we get to a painted hand imprint on a Northern site are four narrow parallel lines at Honnhammar XIII, which probably were made by fingers drawn vertically down the rock face. Anthropomorphic images are rare, but they occur at large sites like Bardal, Hammer and Evenhus, and also at Vistnesdalen and Lånke, while zoomorphs are present at virtually all Northern sites and panels in the study area. This does not imply, however, that humans are of little interest for our interpretations of these or other sites. As stated above, while animals were symbolically present in the shape of carvings or paintings on the rocks, humans were present in the flesh, perhaps making it unnecessary to draw those (Sognnes 2013). Thus, we may see the rock art sites as places for encounters between humans and

animals. These encounters frequently took place at or near conspicuous topographical features that sometimes could be identified from far away. Bradley et al. (1993) performed systematic investigations of the intervisibility of Neolithic rock art in Scotland, but to my knowledge no similar investigations have been made in Norway. The intervisibility between the Hell and Lånke sites has already been mentioned. The Tønsåsen ridge with the Lånke carvings dominates the background when you stand in front of the Southern Scandinavian panels Re I and II in Stjørdal (Sognnes 2000), and the Steinmohaugen hillock is also visible from the Re panels. These sites, however, belong to different periods and different rock art traditions. I will return to this situation later. In central Norway, most Northern sites appear to be situated too far from each other to be intervisible, but an analysis like this at Trondheimsfjord may give some interesting results. The large horizontal plain formed by the fjord clearly influenced the choice of location for Northern rock art and the visibility of the site, as demonstrated by the proximity to the sea of virtually all panels. Even small islets and headlands are clearly visible from the sea. In particular, this is the case for the low, outer part of the Frosta peninsula, which is in the middle of the Strindfjord basin. Until the Early Bronze Age, this outer part of the peninsula formed an island separated from the mainland by a shallow sound, the Evenhus site being located near the eastern point of this island (Sognnes 1994). Even though it was 20 m lower than today, this island was clearly visible from both sides of the fjord. If you paddled some hundred metres off the western point of this ‘Frosta Island’, you could see the hillocks with the Hell and Lånke carvings. We may ask whether some large and more remote, conspicuous topographical features like islands and hills can be seen from some of the sites. However, studying the view from the rock art sites might prove to be just as interesting as that towards the rock art, which so far has dominated in rock art studies. The Selset site may illustrate this. The fish there appear to be swimming away from the sea towards a small, rostrum-like plateau behind the top of the rock outcrop on which the images were carved. Hallström (1938, 259) noted this, too. The fish are oriented towards the land, as are spectators facing these carvings, turning their backs to the sea. A person standing on the ‘rostrum’ would, however, face the spectators and the sound with its strong tidal currents. What would this person be looking at? Is there a rock art site on the other side of the sound, too? The rock art was meant to last; the permanency of rocks makes them the most appropriate medium for expressing metaphors about the social body that goes on despite the death of individuals. Rock carvings and paintings should be seen, not only by contemporaries but also by generations to come (Conkey 1983, 220). This, however, also works the other way round. Because of its permanency, rock art becomes an important link and mediator between the present and the past. It would be made not only for the


Presence benefit of contemporary groups and individuals, but also for future generations to see and venerate. Here, I see the rock art as visual expressions of encounters between humans or between humans and something else, natural or supernatural, which in one way or another was associated with some particular animals, cervids, whales and aquatic birds, occasionally some other animals. The animals in question may once have been present at these particular sites, the images representing actual situations drawn to commemorate these moments. For some sites, this is possible although highly unlikely. The images would be drawn after the animals had left, the elk into the woods and the whale into the water. Only the artist would be present in the flesh, the animals being symbolically present. These animals are, however, drawn in ways that demonstrate that they were familiar to the artists. No-one today can tell the significance and meaning of these ancient encounters. For modern humans, the images are alienated, as demonstrated by the ways they are documented and studied, either by tracings or by photographs focusing on individual images. Stone Age humans and animals may have met on more equal terms. Some meetings could be easily arranged, particularly when the sites were located on ancient trails or along the shores of lakes and fjords, which is common in northern Europe.

Figure 82. Theoretical group territories in the Helgeland district with the location of rock art sites at the mouth of Vefnsfjord marked; circles = Northern rock art, diamonds = Southern tradition sites (after Pettersen 1985).

Communication A central aspect of the discussion so far is that I see rock art as a means of communication. However, only a few animal species were the foci for this communication. Contrary to Bouissac (1994), I therefore do not believe we are dealing with a kind of script. This leads to new questions: what kind of information are we dealing with and how was it transmitted? It is virtually impossible to answer these questions today. We may describe our own experiences and feelings, but even though we cannot describe how people of the past experienced the rock art, the geographical distribution of sites and motifs may take us some steps forward towards understanding and interpreting this part of Stone Age Scandinavian visual culture. However, the Holocene land uplift means that the landscapes being studied have continuously changed. We cannot use the present landscape as the basis for our interpretations, but must start by reconstructing the past landscapes (chapter 2).

Schiffer (1999, 5) claimed that all communication and human behaviour includes artefacts, which he defined as ‘phenomena produced, replicated, or otherwise brought wholly or partly to their present form through human means’ (Schiffer 1999, 12). Rock art falls within his group of platial artefacts which reside in a place, but the places where rock art is made are platial, too (Schiffer 1999, 23-25). Normally, we are dealing with what Schiffer (1999, 92) called a person-artefact-person communication process. We may easily identify communication between persons via the rock art. We may, however, also ask whether we may be dealing with human persons and some kind of other persons within the rock. Based on our current knowledge, it is suggested that central Norway during the Early Mesolithic was settled by small groups of migrating foragers (Pettersen 1999; 2005; Alsaker 2005). These groups were most probably self-sufficient, but at the same time vulnerable, living in


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway and travelling through a world with great and fast natural changes; one winter storm, an avalanche or a landslide might wipe out an entire group. During these migrations, they were bound to meet other groups, and at these meetings they could exchange raw materials, tools and weapons, and most important of all, find suitable spouses. That such contacts existed is demonstrated by studies of the distribution in western Norway of axes made from greenstone and diabase taken from two large quarries. The distribution demonstrates that raw material from these quarries is roughly confined to the counties of Hordaland and Sogn and Fjordane, western Norway (Olsen and Alsaker 1984). It indicates that people moved between their dwelling sites and the quarries where they could acquire raw material, rough-outs, or finished tools and weapons, or the distribution was taken care of by the people who did the quarrying. The production and distribution of artefacts from these quarries started already in the Mesolithic. As stated above, the making of rock art must have been triggered by societal changes within or between groups. Hence, it is of interest to note that the beginning of rock art making in central Norway seems to coincide with changes in the contemporary settlement structure from small, scattered sites with hardly any preserved occupation deposits to larger dwelling sites with distinct occupation layers containing organic matter (Pettersen 1985; Alsaker 2005). This apparent change may be the result of weathering processes, but it may also be related to a transgression that started around 8000 BP and was followed by a long period with a relatively stable seashore on the coast and strongly reduced land uplift in the inner fjord areas (Figures 74-75). This would influence the settlement pattern in an area where most dwelling sites were located close to the sea. The later part of this period coincides with the Late Mesolithic when rock art making in this region appears to have started. During the following Neolithic era, material culture demonstrates that people living in the study area had direct or indirect contact with other parts of Scandinavia; towards northern Norway and the Gulf of Bothnia where similar slate artefacts are found and towards southern Scandinavia, from which flint axes and daggers were imported (Marstrander 1954; Alsaker 2005). In recent times, groups of Sami people met at certain places and times of year during seasonal migrations (Vorren 1978, 265f). Looking at the rock art in central Norway from this perspective, we may anticipate Stone Age foragers coming together at certain times of the year when they were following the annual migrations of their prey animals. Such meeting places may have existed at several levels: intragroup meetings, meetings between different groups living in a region, and between these groups and groups living in other regions. Pettersen (1985) divided the Helgeland district in southern Nordland into a number of hypothetical territories in the Neolithic based on the distribution of material culture. He suggested some territories on the coast, some in the

interior, and some along the major fjords. Three or four of these territories meet around the mouth of Vefsnfjord, where important rock art is located (Figure 82): Northern tradition carvings at Rødøya and Vistnesdalen and Southern tradition carvings at Tro and Flatøya (K. Rygh 1908; Gjessing 1936; Lund 1941; Sognnes 1989). This cluster of sites is located far away from the major rock art concentration in Trøndelag and the sites with polished carvings further north in Nordland. We find a similar, but less dense, cluster of rock art in Romsdal and Nordmøre, Bogge forming the major site in this region. The Trondheimsfjord concentration is larger, covering a wider area. A study of maritime motifs in this region revealed the existence of two entities, one in the inner Beitstadfjord basin and one in the western Strindfjord basin (Stebergløkken 2008). Evenhus is a large site in the Strindfjord basin, while the Beitstadfjord cluster contains two large sites, Bardal and Hammer. The rock paintings on the Fosen peninsula, west of Trondheimsfjord, form a third cluster. This contrasts with the situations at Vingen (Lødøen and Mandt 2012) and Nämforsen (Hallström 1938), where most of the carvings are concentrated at one large site. In Alta, the situation is apparently similar to Vingen and Nämforsen, but the carvings here are actually found at four different sites, all quite large (Helskog 2012a). Performance Access to rock art sites may have been restricted, being controlled by social conventions that archaeological methods cannot identify (Bradley 2009, 120). Within the study area, this may be indicated by sites where only a few people could be present in front of the images, like most of the Honnhammaren panels. At other sites, many people could congregate. Performance is a special kind of presence and communication where different groups of people are present; not only the makers of images and a few listeners but also spectators and people taking part in rituals and processions, etc. The making of the rock art may in itself have been a performance. Rock art sites and panels where performances took place must, however, have room for both performers and spectators. Hence, surfaces were chosen for this purpose not only because they were near the shore, there also had to be enough space for spectators in front of or around them. Performers and spectators also needed places to safely land and moor the boats they used to get to the sites, sometimes even for dwelling in during the time meetings and performances lasted. This can be illustrated by the Bardal I panel that slopes around 30°. Here, people could walk up and down as well as across the panel, especially by using the rows of grooves as steps. Thus, the panel itself could be included in processions and ceremonies. The terrace in front of the panel has room for a large crowd of people who could land their boats on the shore below the forefront of the terrace. Above the panel is a gently sloping rock shelf that could function as a stage, for instance for mortuary rites.



Figure 83. The slope in front of the Honnhammar I panel has no room for spectators (author’s photo).

We cannot say definitely that Bardal I was a place for performances, but its sheer size and its topographical setting make it one of the most probable panels for this kind of activity in central Norway during the Neolithic and Bronze Age. This may actually be the reason why carvings were made again and again on this particular panel. In this respect, Bardal I is similar to the large Southern tradition Leirfall III panel in Stjørdal, which is equally suitable for performances (Sognnes 2012). Only a few superimpositions are known at Leirfall, but there is a strong tendency for different motifs to form separate clusters on this large panel. For spectators wanting to see all the carvings, this requires them to walk along the foot of the panel, which is also the case for Bardal I. At Hammer, we find a row of panels along the hill foot, which marks the inner edge of the cultivated land on this farm. Collective visits to these sites imply that processions started in the northeast at the steep Hammer I panel, then passed Hammer XI and XII (all located close to the present road) and Hammer IV, before passing the gently sloping Hammer V, VI and VII panels to end at Hammer VIII in the southwest (Bakka 1988). Processions could even start at the Skjevik I panel on the neighbouring Skjevik Farm, around 800 metres northeast of Hammer I. Spectators could watch this procession standing or sitting on the plain in front of these panels, but they would not be able to see the panels themselves. There would be less space for spectators in the northeastern part, where the present road runs on a narrow shelf close to the cliff.

The situation at Honnhammar I differs significantly from Bardal I and Hammer. Here, a cluster of paintings is found on a vertical rock face under a shallow rock shelter near the top of a steep-sided rock outcrop. The sloping floor of this shelter is less than 3 m wide and ends abruptly at the top of another vertical cliff. There was no space for spectators at this panel, nor was there room for processions in front of it (Figure 84). The majority of the other Honnhammaren panels are on vertical surfaces facing narrow, horizontal ledges that offer little room for either processions or spectators. Boat landing is difficult in the immediate vicinity of the panels due to the steep cliffs and the wind and rough sea, but it would be easy in the bay below the present Honnhammaren farmsteads, between the Hinna and Honnhammarneset headlands. Most of these panels were reached from the land side, from which the ledges are sometimes difficult to find. At Søbstad, there is a gently sloping ledge in front of vertical, carved outcrops. This ledge, which ends in a steep slope down towards the present seashore, is wider than the Honnhammar ledges, and suitable landing places for boats could be found a few metres away. In front of the panels, there is room for some spectators observing ceremonies, but the site is not suitable for processions. A small group of people would be able to experience the special echo recognised by Sørensen (2008). Looking at the rock art sites from these perspectives, we find many variations among the cliffs and outcrops marked by carvings and/or paintings. This indicates that


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway human presence at these sites may reflect many different actions and experiences. It also means that several different factors may have influenced the choice of surfaces for making rock art, among them the sea level. Symbols For almost a century, hunting magic was held to be the one and only acceptable interpretation for Northern rock art (e.g. Gjessing 1936; Simonsen 1986). Gjessing (1945, 298) claimed that this interpretation was so self-evident that it could hardly be questioned. Yet, he hinted that the motifs could have acted as symbols (Gjessing 1945, 314). Scenes depicting hunters or shamans performing hunting magic are not present in the Northern rock art of central Norway. In reality, Gjessing saw the zoomorphic motifs present in this rock art tradition as symbols of hunting magic. Although Gjessing’s interpretation of the Northern rock art as representing hunting magic seems obsolete today, there are, as I see it, good reasons to look further into the symbol aspect for this rock art. I do, however, find it virtually impossible to identify what each motif was a symbol of, but in the following I will look into some possible interpretations from the perspective of symbolism. This was actually done by Tilley (1991) who saw the Nämforsen carvings as symbols only. Looking at the elk images in central Norway we find that some are more likely to be identified as symbols than others. In particular, this holds true for those whose front leg was drawn as a separate body segment, thus making them look like non-real animals, but also for the ‘schematic’ images. On the other hand, Gjerde claimed that these images were not merely symbols, but also reflected reality (Gjerde 2010, 11). During his studies of the Ndembu tribe in Zambia, the anthropologist Victor Turner found that symbols played significant roles in the many rituals performed as part of their religious life, being associated with hunting cults, fertility cults and curative cults (Turner 1967, 11). He found that ‘dominant symbols appear in many different ritual contexts, sometimes presiding over the whole procedure, sometimes over particular phases’. He also found that the meaning and content of the dominant symbols ‘had a high degree of consistency throughout the whole symbolic system’ (Turner 1967, 31). Furthermore, he found that a symbol is something that connects the unknown and the known (Turner 1967, 48). The number and importance of symbols used in Stone Age central Norway is unknown, but we do know the existence of a limited number of symbols painted or carved on rocks. Cervids and whales are the dominant motifs representing the terrestrial and marine worlds respectively, the forest and the sea, the contact with and exploitation of which were of utmost importance for the survival of humans. The air is represented by the birds, which are rare (except at Hammer and Horjem). We thus find that the many images representing elk, deer and reindeer may symbolise the land, the vast forests with

their abundance of large game animals, which people could enter at will. In this region, the elk appears to have been the most powerful symbol of the forested land. Correspondingly, whales and fish represent the sea, a part of the world that was unavailable to humans. However, boats made it possible to exploit the sea while floating on its surface. As demonstrated by bones excavated from dwelling sites, fish were the main marine food, yet whales became the most powerful symbol of the sea. Near the end of the time when Northern rock art was made, boats became a correspondingly strong symbol which, however, may not primarily have been so much a symbol for the sea as for travelling. Birds, then, would be a symbol for the air above the worlds of land and sea. It is interesting to note that the boats at the same time look like birds floating on the water. Most birds depicted migrate seasonally and these motifs therefore support the idea of boats as symbols of journeys and travels. These three major groups of symbols may have been associated with a shamanic worldview, the present world, the underworld and the upper world (chapter 8), but in general the upper world apparently is not symbolically present in the Northern rock art of this region. Only at Hammer and Bardal are all three worlds symbolically present, but the boat images at Hammer and Evenhus may be seen as merging all three worlds. Being man-made, boats of this world are shaped like birds of the upper world and they float on the underworld. We may thus place Evenhus in the same category as Hammer and Bardal. Direct representations of hunting appear to be rare, but the images may still be related to hunting; the main motifs may represent different hunting seasons. Starting with the whales, these animals are mostly present in Trond-heimsfjord in summer when the water temperature is relatively high (Heggberget 2000, 219). The inner fjord basins may freeze in winter. Reindeer may have been hunted by the fjord in winter when they migrate down from the mountains. The situation may have been similar for the elk, which dominate among the rock art motifs; they may seasonally have migrated towards the fjord. Migrating birds like geese and swans pass the Trondheimsfjord region twice annually. They normally fly high, but at river estuaries in particular they stop to rest and eat. Although the present resting places were still below the sea during the Stone Age, the situation at the inner end of Lake Snåsa has been the same for around 4000 years and this is where we find the Horjem birds. Today, groups of eider migrate between the Gulf of Bothnia and Trondheimsfjord where they spend the winter. Other groups stay at Trondheimsfjord all the year round. These birds congregate in winter, and this would be the best season to hunt them. Salmon enter the fjord in spring on their way to the many rivers that flow into the fjord. At about the same time, herring and flounders spawn in the fjord, too. We may thus see reindeer and elk images as symbols of the winter, the whales of the


Presence Identities The idea that Northern rock art may mark or symbolise identities has been present in Norwegian rock art research for a long time (Hansen 1904), but has never played a significant role. Totemism was part of Reinach’s (1903) interpretation of Franco-Cantabrian cave art, but unlike sympathetic magic this interpretation was not found to be relevant for the post-Palaeolithic rock art of Stone Age Scandinavia (Shetelig 1922, 145). Gjes-sing (1932, 5051) was aware that the large ‘naturalistic’ carvings in Nordland formed a regional cluster, but he interpreted this cluster from a chronological perspective, emphasising that these carvings Figure 84. Large ’naturalistic’ cervids. A-D from central Norway, E-I from northern Norway were the earlier ones in (originals from Gjessing 1932; 1936 and Sognnes 1981). Scandinavia. He did not question why they were summer, while fish would symbolise spring and birds made in this region or at these particular sites. Hesjedal both spring and autumn. Gjerde (2010, 99) believed that (1992; 1994), however, claimed that they were made as the carvings on large vertical panels like Hell were made part of the process of humanising new land taken into during the winter. The top of this panel is difficult to possession shortly after the Pleistocene ice cap had reach and, hence, to carve images. However, if snow was disappeared (Hesjedal 1994, 13). put on the shelf below the panel, the upper part of the panel would be easily reachable. Hagen (1970) acknowledged the existence of a similar cluster of large ‘naturalistic’ carvings in central Norway, Some North American rock art specialists emphasise the but he primarily saw these carvings from a stylistic role of rock art as symbols and metaphors. Patterson- evolutionary perspective. A selection of images from both Rudolph (1990, 12-13) stated that Indian pictography is a clusters with large ‘naturalistic’ carvings is shown as language or symbol system that ‘is composed of graphic Figure 84. Images 84A-D are found in central Norway, symbols with basic meanings and many extensions’ and 84E-I in northern Norway. Based on these tracings and that they may change meaning with changing contexts. drawings alone, it is difficult to determine whether these Rajnovitch (1994, 19) saw symbols in relation to images belong to the northern Norwegian or central metaphors. A symbol is a picture that stands for Norwegian group. something else; a boat can stand for the concept of a journey. A metaphor is a picture that can stand for many The stylistically and evolutionary chronological thinking related things; a boat can stand for a journey and a vision that has dominated Norwegian rock art studies for more quest at the same time. than a century should be questioned; other interpretations should be sought for and be evaluated relative to each other This brings us back to the sites in central Norway where a and to the Shetelig/Gjessing model. Here, I look into this small selection of animals is symbolically present at rock art from the perspective of identity; perhaps different places where people came together, animals that people styles and ways of drawing signify societal rather than encountered and caught during their seasonal migrations temporal differences. What if the two clusters of through the landscape. When they followed the animals, ‘naturalistic’ carvings described above represent different people migrated, too, although they appear to have groups of people: ethnic groups, tribes, clans or kinship become more sedentary when the rock art was made. groups? Two contemporary groups of people separated by More people eventually came to live in the region being large distances could mark their land with large studied, and from this it is a short step to interpret the zoomorphic ‘naturalistically’ drawn rock carvings. The rock art motifs as representing different groups and thus distances involved indicate that these groups may not, being totemic symbols. however, have been in direct contact with each other.


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway However, in central Norway, other more or less contemporary groups may have marked their presence in the land by means of different motifs and different styles. Changes in motifs and drawing techniques may have internal as well as external societal causes. A related question is why large parts of Norway seemingly have no Northern rock art at all, for instance the areas between the Trondheimsfjord and Romsdal/Nordmøre clusters and between Romsdal and Nordfjord (Vingen).

Figure 85. Simplified version of the distribution of the main motifs on the Evenhus V panel in Frosta. M marks the location of the ’male’ symbols (elk), F/f the location of the ’female’ symbols (whales) and B the location of the boat images.

Different artists working on the rocks may also explain the existence of differences in motifs, styles and techniques (Stebergløkken 2016). For instance, the fish at Selset (Figure 23) are very similar in size and design, with a special marking of the head, a line marking the spine and curved tails; one person alone may have made all these images, which then would express individuality rather than collective entities. Gjessing (1932, 37; 1936, 163) claimed that the large, polished and ‘naturalistic’ images in Nordland were stylistically homogenous and of high quality, but at the same time he acknowledged that the quality of the individual images varies. The reason for this, he believed, was that the images were made by different artists who observed and drew the animals differently. He claimed that the meaning of this art was full naturalism and that lack of competence among the artists explained why some of these images were not fully ‘naturalistic’ (Gjessing 1932, 39-40). The four large fish at Honnhammar III may have been painted by one person, as may some of the incomplete cervids at Honnhammar II. This may be the case for the four newly discovered fish at Honnhammar XXI, too (Linge 2014). At Honnhammar V, two peculiar quadrupeds are found which, with their low, slightly curved trunks, may look like turtles, but the ears, as pointed out above, indicate that they actually depict elk. One of these images is drawn with nicely curved lines, while the other is more roughly drawn. Two different people most probably drew these images, which were drawn according to the same code. Gender In chapter 4, I presented some possible sexual motifs, most of which apparently represent vulvas (Figure 28). To these should be added some anthropomorphs depicting phallic men (Figure 27). These images are, however, surprisingly few, reflecting apparent little interest among the artists to depict humans and, hence, mark sex and gender. However, we find a strong tendency towards a dualism in the record, first and foremost between terrestrial and maritime motifs,

primarily represented by elk and whales. Looking at these motifs from a gender perspective, we may tentatively suggest that they represent male versus female. We then come close to the work of the French scholars Laming-Emperaire (1962) and Leroi-Gourhan (1965) who studied the Palaeolithic cave art in France from a structuralist perspective. However, we do not find a mixture of different motifs in the Northern rock art in central Norway that is comparable with the French caves. Whales or elk and, occasionally, fish or birds, dominate most panels. Even the large Bardal I panel is totally dominated by one motif, elk. At the upper edge of the panel we find one whale and in the lower part some birds together with phallic men. Thinking in dichotomies, we may conclude that this panel represents the male gender. This seems plausible if elk hunting primarily was a winter activity. The main symbol for the female gender, then, would be the whale images, most of which depict porpoises, which are among the smaller whales. Women and children could remain on the shore near the summer settlements while the men manned the boats and chased the animals at sea. Following this way of thinking, we may identify sites like Hell, Honnhammaren, Stykket and Bardal as places where primarily men came together, while women came together at sites like Rødsand, Søbstad, Reppen and probably Horjem. A simplified version of the tracing of the major motifs on the Evenhus V panel (Figure 68) is presented as Figure 85. Here, the letter M substitutes for the suggested ‘male’ elk symbols and the letter F the suggested female whale images, while the letter B substitutes for the boat images. The letter f marks the whales inside boats. Ignoring the boat images, we find a simpler version of the structure discovered by Leroi-Gourhan; a central cluster of male symbols surrounded by peripheral female symbols. This pattern is, however, partly confused by the boat images, which may represent something other than gender. Mandt (1998) studied the large Vingen site in western Norway from a gender perspective. Carvings depicting deer dominate this site, but other motifs occur as well, most of


Presence which, however, do not depict other animal species. Bakka (1973) noticed the existence of female symbols, which he interpreted as vulvas, but we see these symbols only as ‘byproducts of the hunting, and not as social symbols in their own right’ (Mandt 1988, 203). The many images depicting red deer are drawn in many different ways over a long period and may therefore be considered a complex symbol associated with cosmology and communal rituals (Mandt 1998, 209). Following Gimbutas (e.g. 1991), Mandt (1989, 212) saw the abstract-geometric images at Vingen as representing female symbols. Her conclusion was ‘that the spatial and contextual pattern of the rock carvings indicates a sexual differentiation of the different topographical sections at Vingen. Some loci were reserved for women and their ritual activities’. As mentioned above, differences in distributions of the motifs do exist in central Norway. These differences may be gender related, but may also be related to other dichotomies, in particular between land and sea, but also between different societal groups at other levels. Ethnicity Whereas people are categorised into ethnic groups, other categories like family, age, gender and rank are ignored; ethnic categories consider them-selves, or are considered by others, as being different from other similar groups. Each ethnic group communicates cultural differences, for instance language (Odner 1983, 3). For more than a century, rock art in Norway has been interpreted within a framework of peace and harmony, apparently representing a world without different ethnic groups, competitions or conflicts, the two major rock art traditions being claimed to be chronologically separated from each other, representing two different eras and being made by Stone Age foragers and Bronze Age farmers, respectively. This harmony model comprises three stages in subsistence: after a long phase dominated by foraging, followed a phase with mixed economy before the final take-over by farming. For rock art, this general model was supported by an apparent time gap between the two traditions as evidenced by shoreline dating, exemplified by Bakka’s (1973) study of the sites on the coast of Sogn and Fjordane, western Norway, where Northern and Southern tradition panels are at different altitudes above present sea level. Embedded in this model is that local foragers gradually learned farming through a slow but peaceful process. I agree that the archaeological record indicates that it was a slow process, but how we interpret this process depends on the perspective with which we see the record. Taking a grand overview, studying an area on an over-regional scale, we may find evidence of a mixed economy; hunting, gathering, fishing and farming being practised within the same area. For Norwegian scholars until today, this model apparently contained no contradictions. On the coast, most farmers in recent times have also fished for a living, and hunting still plays an important role in the subsistence economy of farmers in upland valleys.

If we study the same area from a local scale perspective, we may find that some people were foragers while others were farmers living side by side, practising their own way of living, but at the same time exchanging products, ideas, spouses, etc. Within the rough chronological framework available to archaeologists, it is normally extremely difficult to identify traces of this process in detail. Looking at the distribution of sites displaying the two rock art traditions in central Norway, we find two distinctly different patterns. While Northern sites are scattered near the sea virtually all over the area, the vast majority of Southern tradition sites are in a much smaller area, mostly in the lower Stjørdal and Gauldal valleys east and south of Trondheimsfjord, as much as 10 km from the sea. The makers of this rock art seem to have used the landscape and fjordscape in distinctly different ways, the Bronze Age farming communities being located on land especially suitable for farming away from the fjord. We may claim that these two groups had different ‘taskscapes’ (Ingold 1993). This corresponds with the situation in Hordaland, western Norway, where people apparently moved from the coast to the inner fjords during the transition from the Middle to the Late Neolithic, probably as the result of a change in subsistence from foraging to farming (Bakka and Kaland 1971). Around Trondheimsfjord, this process probably started in the Neolithic, too (Asprem 2005; 2012). Correspondingly, Bjerck (2007; 2008) found that there was a delay in the colonisation in inner fjord districts compared with the coast. The existence of groups that did not exploit maritime resources is demonstrated by a find from Sund Farm in Inderøy, Nord-Trøndelag, where many Bronze Age skeletons were found in a gravel pit (Farbregd et al. 1974). These skeletons were later radiometrically dated to the Early Bronze Age, and both children and adults were represented. This was at a time when the rock art site at Evenhus would still have had a role to play. The exact number of deceased persons involved is unknown, but since 54 per cent of the skeletons showed old and/or fresh injuries, some of which were lethal, they might have been involved in a massacre (Fyllingen 2003). Analyses of the bones showed that the people killed did not eat marine food, which is surprising considering the many different fish and other marine animals living in Trondheimsfjord (Mork 2000) and Sund being located by the sea. Similar situations are, however, described from Britain and Denmark, where Neolithic people living near the coast apparently rejected the sea as a source for food (Van de Noort 2011, 78). In this region, Northern rock art apparently was made for thousands of years before Southern tradition rock art began to be made, and came to an end during the Late Neolithic. Is it, however, possible that the making of Northern rock art lasted through to the Bronze Age (Gjessing 1936; Hagen 1970; Simonsen 1974)? Furthermore, might the Southern tradition have started already in the Neolithic? Perhaps we have forced a


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway carvings on this panel and may represent a conflict between groups of farmers and foragers, respectively. The two major Scandinavian rock art traditions thus may represent different ethnic entities, foragers who had lived in the region for millennia and immigrant farmers. We cannot tell whether the farmers actually did immigrate or were local groups of foragers who took up farming, but we know that people had to be on the move. Domestic animals and plants from southern Scandinavia were brought Figure 86. Eighteenth-century model of an Inuit umiak from Greenland in the north. There was not only a transfer collections of the NTNU Museum, Trondheim (© NTNU Museum). of ideas, animals and seeds had to be imported in the early phase. chronological framework based on material culture onto a Animals could walk over land, but they had to be led and visual culture, for which it is not relevant. herded by people. Along the coast, they had to be transported in boats or on rafts; the latter I find less likely These questions are difficult to answer as long as we in the rough waters along the west coast of Norway. Skilled cling to traditional chronologies and dating methods. people must have manned the boats and skilled herders Moreover, the situation is not the same all over took care of the animals during journeys. They also needed Scandinavia. In most of this large area, rock art to know how to sow and harvest plants. Furthermore, the apparently was not made at all. The majority of the crews had to be prepared for bad weather, strong winds and Northern rock art is found in northern Scandinavia hostile encounters with people already living in the north. while most Southern rock art was made in southern In sum, large boats were necessary to transport people and Scandinavia. However, central Norway appears to be a animals during periods when expansion was taking place. border or frontier zone between these rock art traditions. We should also take into consideration that these Images that normally would be classified as Southern migrations were planned and probably took place after are found at some Northern sites in northern Sweden some reconnoitring trips. This spread of early faming along (Nämforsen) and Norway (Alta), but in small numbers. the coast of Norway may be seen in relation to the spread Correspondingly, Northern motifs occur together with of the Indo-European language that later became the Southern motifs in southern Norway, at Vangdal in Norwegian of today (Prescott and Walderhaug 1995; Hordaland (Mandt Larsen 1972) and Åmøy in Rogaland Østmo 1996). (Fett and Fett 1941). Painted zoomorphs are known from Rennarsundet in Sandnes, Rogaland (Bang-Andersen Marstrander (1963, 135-136) compared the Southern 1992). tradition boat carvings with Inuit hide boats. The relevance of this was disputed by Hale (1980) and I find comparisons In Bohuslän (Ling 2008) and along the southwest coast of between Inuit boats and Northern boat images to be more Norway (Mandt 1972; Bakka 1973), Southern tradition relevant. Figure 86 shows an umiak model from Greenland rock carvings were located close to ancient seashores, but made in the late-eighteenth century. Boats like these were in central Norway this tradition is not present on the suitable for transporting small groups of people, for coast, except at the mouth of Vefsnfjord (Sognnes 1989). instance a family. Those used to transport cattle and other The Southern tradition sites around Trondheimsfjord are animals may have been constructed in the same way, but located as much as 200 m above present sea level. Only a must have been larger, with room for paddlers and herders handful of sites were located near contemporary shores. as well as animals. However, the hides used for these boats Based on curves showing the Holocene land uplift, these must have been vulnerable for stamping animals. shore-bound Southern panels may be dated to the Early Iron Age (Sognnes 2001). Knowledge about the land in the north may have existed among southern Scandinavians already in the Late The Southern carvings claimed to be earlier ones (from Mesolithic, before the first migrations of farmers into the Late Neolithic?) are on the interior Skatval peninsula central Norway took place. Meetings between different (at Røkke and Auran) to the northwest of the mouth of the groups of people with different ways of living may have Stjørdal valley around 80-100 m above present sea level. triggered the use of ethnically identifiable symbols that The large Bardal I boat images that are dated to the permanently marked sacred and ancestral places in the Bronze Age period I (Kaul 1998) may represent an landscape. For a long time, this was, however, done by the expansion of farming towards the inner Trondheimsfjord foragers alone. A need to symbolise differences between area. They are superimposed on the large zoomorphic groups may be due to the increased permanency of


Presence settlements that led to more intense exploitation of smaller territories with stronger focus on local resources and thus on ‘ownership’ of the land in a way different from before. Several subtraditions have been identified in the Southern tradition rock art in Stjørdal; boats, horses, footprints and geometric designs show different distribution patterns even within this restricted area (Sognnes 2001). When we look at the Northern rock art from a similar perspective we can identify different subtraditions in this tradition as well; the main motifs, cervids, whales, birds, fish and boats, show different distribution patterns. Furthermore, what we see as different ‘styles’ and ways of drawing these animals may represent different contemporary groups rather than being the work of the one group over time. These groups could have been formed at different times, but may in theory be more or less contemporary. From this perspective, we may even see the large ‘naturalistic’ images as one of several parallel subtraditions. However, the images belonging to each subtradition may have had different purposes and meanings.

different phases in a harmonious development from foraging to farming. However, slate artefacts were still used during the Late Neolithic, while southern Scandinavian flint artefacts were introduced already in the Middle Neolithic (Østmo 2000; Asprem 2012). The location of the Evenhus site shows that Northern rock art was made at least to the end of the Neolithic. We may therefore suggest that a frontier zone existed between foragers and farmers in central Norway that lasted perhaps between 1000 and 1500 years. A frontier differs from a centre, not merely because it is remote and peripheral, but also because it represents cross-cultural contacts. There is no reason to believe that these contacts go only one way. Although the expanding Bronze Age farmers in central Norway and adjacent regions in the long run had a strong impact on their neighbours, the Bronze Age culture would also gain something from the indigenous cultures, which may be called a 'backwash' from the frontier (Hallowell 1967, 320). In this case, the making of rock art may represent this ‘backwash’.

We have no evidence that rock art was made by the first settlers, as is claimed for the large ‘naturalistic’ zoomorphs in northern Nordland (Hesjedal 1992; 1994), and I find this model difficult to accept. This early date does not fit the general impression gained from coastal Norway, which indicates that the making of Northern rock art started much later than the first peopling of the land. As I see it, we are still far from explaining why these large ‘naturalistic’ rock images were made in two separate regions at different times, and nowhere else in Scandinavia.

We may here be dealing with two different ethnic groups that probably cooperated with each other and eventually, at least partly, merged into one. Claiming the existence of Stone Age ethnic groups based on differences and similarities in material and visual culture is, of course, questionable, but I present it as a tentative hypothesis. This hypothetical division may be reflected in the present situation with two different groups living in central Norway, a majority group consisting of Germanic-speaking Norwegians with its traditional background in farming (but also fishing and hunting) and a minority Sami group speaking its own Fenno-Ugrian language (in this case Southern Sami), focusing on reindeer herding and formerly on hunting. We should, however, also ask whether more than two ethnic groups existed in this region during the periods under study.

Above, I emphasised the close relationship between Northern rock art and the visual culture of the slate industry. Marstrander presented a number of maps showing the distribution of dwelling sites and artefacts belonging to this industry in central Norway. These maps revealed that the majority of the known dwelling sites are found along the coast whilst most stray finds of artefacts come from the area around Trondheimsfjord and adjacent valleys (Marstrander 1954, 46, 55). The representativeness of these finds may be questioned, but tentatively we may interpret these distributions as evidence for the Trondheimsfjord area being exploited by seasonal hunting expeditions. South Scandinavian Late Neolithic daggers show a more even distribution, while Bronze Age finds concentrate around Trondheimsfjord (Marstrander 1954, 64, 68). The largest Bronze Age cemetery known in Norway is found on the south side of Beitstadfjord opposite Bardal (K. Rygh 1906; Grønnesby 1998b). These distributions may be interpreted as evidence of a gradual change in habitation from the coast to the inner fjord basins, which at the same time represents a change from foraging to farming as the main subsistence in this region. Both material and visual culture demonstrate the existence of two major cultural complexes in central Norway during the Neolithic. While the slate industry apparently blossomed in the Middle Neolithic, southern Scandinavian influence represented by flint daggers blossomed in the Late Neolithic. We may interpret these distribution maps from a purely chronological point of view, representing two

Group symbols Changes in the relationship between foragers in northern Scandinavia and farming communities in the south are shown in the contemporary material culture. Flint axes and later daggers found far north of the Arctic Circle (e.g. O. S. Johansen 1979) were transported from southern Scandinavia, while slate arrow and spear points were transported in the opposite direction (e.g. Ramstad 2000). Parallel to this, Baltic amber and distinctive stone axes from this region apparently reached central Norway from the east (Marstrander 1954, 55). Not only the coast but also the hinterland were exploited and settlements became more permanent. Dwelling sites became larger and were used for longer periods. These changes were probably linked to population growth. The first rock art in central Norway may have been made when people migrated from the coast to the inland areas surrounding Trondheimsfjord and other fjord basins, starting to exploit a new and alien landscape dominated by dense forests in which elk were the dominant prey. This seems to correspond with the culmination of the alder forest during the latter part of the Atlantic Period, when


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway alder, elm and hazel declined. A parallel increase in pine pollen provides evidence for a drier and cooler interval. In the most favourable inner fjord districts, the mean July temperature may have been at least 1º C above the mean temperature for this month today (Hafsten 1987). At this time of transition, the making of distinctive huntingrelated rock images could be one way of marking the land and signifying traditional unity as opposed to people and new customs being imported from elsewhere. The rock art may also have been used to signify smaller entities among the foragers, whether at tribe, band, group or kinship level, the motifs chosen reflecting differences between these groups. The different ways these motifs were designed, whether they were painted or carved, or how they were drawn may represent different groups, too. The hypothesis of totemism has recently gained some interest, hinted at by Magnus and Myhre (1986: 114) and Mikkelsen (1977a, 145) and more broadly formulated as an interpretative model by Tilley (1991) for the Nämforsen record. Also the Northern rock art further north in Norway has been interpreted as representing totemism (Hesjedal 1992; 1994). Each motif, elk, reindeer, whale, bird, etc., may be totemic, representing people who formed clans or kinship groups. Edvinger (1993), who studied the Northern rock art in central Swedish Norrland, suggested that each motif might represent a clan totem. She found, however, that virtually all clans in this region would then be elk clans. This she found unlikely within a clan society. Using the term ‘totemism’ for the rock art in this region, she claimed, was misuse of a term that will ultimately be without meaning and content (Edvinger 1993, 70-71). Fuglestvedt (2008), who is studying the Northern rock art in southeastern Norway, looks at the zoomorphic images from a different perspective, suggesting that the outlines, the ‘outer appearances’ of the images, represent animism, while images filled with internal line patterns, together with corresponding free-standing geometric designs, express totemism (Fuglestvedt 2008, 356). Based on this, she has suggested that three clan areas existed in this part of Norway during the Late Mesolithic, stylistically similar images being found in separate geographical areas (Fuglestvedt 2008, 361-362). In addition to the two clusters along the Drammensvassdraget and Gudbransdalslågen rivers mentioned above (chapter 5), she emphasises a small cluster in inner Oslofjord. Whether this holds true for the Ångermanälven and Indalsälven watercourses in northern Sweden, too, has, to my knowledge, not been looked into, but the carvings at, for instance, Glösa and Gärdet in Jämtland do not fit into this model, nor can it be directly applied to the central Norwegian record, primarily because most of the internal ‘line patterns’ found in this region are the result of how the images were constructed. As such, there is no difference between Fuglestvedt’s suggested animistic outer appearances and totemic internal line patterns. However, each group may have developed its own particular way of

drawing the totem animals. The central Norwegian record also includes more animal species, which makes it more likely that totemism in this region would be emphasised by different animal species. The word ‘totem’ comes from Ojibwa, an Algonquin language spoken in the area north of the Great Lakes in North America, where most clans had animal names (Lévi Strauss 1963 18). Totems were brought into European anthropology and archaeology literature by the works of Baldwin Spencer and F. J. Gillen who studied some ‘primitive’ aborigine tribes in remote hinterlands of Australia (Durkheim 1915, Pals 2006). The totem animals are held sacred and should normally not be killed, except for specially designated ceremonies, when they were ritually killed and eaten (Pals 2006, 98, 243). Defining totemism has proved difficult, and it may be seen as ‘an artificial unity, existing solely in the mind of the anthropologist, to which nothing specifically corresponds in reality’ (Lévi-Strauss 1963, 10). Furthermore, clans and totems are not identical; for instance, do the Thompson River Indians have totems but no clans while the Iroquois Indians have clans named after animals but do not have totems (Lévi-Strauss 1962, 5). Hopi clan symbols are known from rock art in Arizona (Shaafsma 1980, 291), but Patterson-Rudolph (1990, xxii), who studied rock art in the Rio Grande Valley, noticed that clan symbols often are the same from tribe to tribe, while myths and ceremonies are culturally specific. This contradicts Edvinger’s conclusion for northern Sweden. The totem concept is loaded with a content that is difficult to identify in the visual culture of prehistoric peoples. Comparing descriptions of totemism with archaeological evidence from northern Scandinavia, bones found on dwelling sites and numerous pitfalls (Sjöstrand 2011), I find it difficult to see that the elk in this area were venerated as totemic animals and I prefer not to use this term; however, I acknowledge the possibility that Northern rock art may have functioned as a marker of different groups and I use this ‘neutral’ term below. Based on the rock images known today, I see two possible ways of identifying group symbolism in the Northern rock art of central Norway: the animals depicted and the ways they were drawn. Theoretically, geometric designs may also be relevant for identifying group identity, but I find these designs to be few and scattered and therefore choose to ignore them. The rock art in this region represents three different worlds: whales, seals and fish (plus boats) represent the sea, cervids and other terrestrial mammals represent the land, while birds represent the air. The two main motifs are cervids and whales which, seen from this perspective, would represent two major groups, one maritime oriented and one terrestrially oriented. Symbols marking possible subgroups within both major groups may be identified. The distribution of whale images shows that this group was present in the entire region, but along the coast in particular. Seal images are found only on Rødøya, while


Presence fish are found in Trondheimsfjord (Teksdal and Selset) and at Sunndalsfjord (Honnhammaren), and also at the mouth of Namsenfjord (Reppen). These motifs may represent small, ‘peripheral’ subgroups.

groups, one drawing elk in a ‘normal’ way, the other ignoring the front leg while drawing the initial body segment. These different ways of drawing elk may also have indicated gender.

Boats represent a second possible maritime group, but most of these images are found at two sites only, in central (Evenhus) and inner (Hammer) Trondheimsfjord, and as such they appear to represent local groups. The situation is similar for birds, most of which are found at Hammer and Horjem. A close connection appears to have existed between the bird and boat groups, primarily represented at Evenhus and Hammer. Boat images with stems having ends shaped like bird heads are represented at these two sites, too.

The boat carvings at Evenhus seem to be superimposed on the elk and whale carvings and may represent a group that came into existence during the Late Neolithic. The maximum shoreline dates at Hammer may indicate that this site was established earlier, but the boat images at these two sites are so similar that I find it unlikely that the Hammer images are earlier than those at Evenhus. Since the Evenhus outcrops did not emerge from the sea until the end of the Neolithic, this would be the maximum age of the boat images at Trondheimsfjord and thus for the ‘Boat people’ in this region.

Elk images are found all over the study area. Other cervids represented may be compared with fish, representing local subgroups; reindeer are found in small numbers at a few sites, and red deer apparently at Bogge only. When we look at the Romsdal/Nordmøre cluster, we find that whales dominate the coastal sites, while virtually all images of cervids are found in the inner fjords, at Bogge and Honnhammaren. However, whales are found at Bogge and quadrupeds at the coastal Rødsand site. The distribution of paintings indicates that these, too, may represent local subgroups. Most sites are found in the southern part of the Fosen peninsula, in Bjugn and Åfjord. The Honnhammar paintings stand out as an isolated cluster at Sunndalsfjord. Returning to the style groups previously identified by Gjessing (1936), we find that the distributions of his styles I and III deviate from the distribution of the much larger style II. Style I is found at one site only in each of the main Trondheimsfjord basins (Stykket, Berg, Bardal and Bøla), and also at Romsdalsfjord (Bogge). The Stykket site marks the entrance to the Trondheimsfjord concentration. This may be a coincidence, but it may also reflect a division into four parallel groups signifying their mutual past by marking some important rocks with ancestral symbols, a reminiscence of collective hunting of the largest terrestrial animal in the forests of the Scandinavian Peninsula, the elk being venerated as a symbol and memorial of the ancestors that settled this area, the land of the ‘Elk people’. The large whale at the top of the Bardal I panel may symbolise the beginning of the ‘Whale people’. Based on the presence of different rock art motifs, people belonging to these two groups exploited different ecological niches, but may also have met on common ground at certain places. The different ways the cervids were drawn then may indicate that the elk group was divided into several subgroups, none of which continued carving large, naturalistic animals on the rocks; new images were deliberately drawn in different ways. The ‘schematic’ images at Bogge and Holte are the most obvious examples of local subgroups. We may also see the two main ways of constructing the ‘style II’ elk images (Figure 48) as ways of expressing different totemic

At this time, farming communities in the valleys to the east and south of the fjord started making their own rock art with boats as their main symbol (Sognnes 2001). The Hammer and Evenhus boats and the suggested early Southern tradition boat images may represent the ‘Boat people’, which then would be identical with the early farmers, Hammer and Evenhus being meeting places for foragers and farmers. To my surprise, I was here led to the possible conclusion that the symbolism behind these boat images may be the same as for the Southern tradition boats, that they represent long journeys and contact with people living far away (Kristiansen 2002). The boats at Evenhus and Hammer then would not be symbols representing a subgroup of local foragers, but symbols of people coming from abroad. These could be the people who also made the first Southern tradition boat images in the Stjørdal area, but deliberately drawn in a different style. I am not going further into details regarding this possible interpretation either, but I have already discussed the distribution of the images on the main Evenhus V panel (chapter 6). Since these symbols probably were made during a relatively short time span, they may mark meetings between different groups whose symbols were elk, whales and boats. This does not, however, explain why rock art was only made in some areas, and by some groups and not by others. Remains of material culture demonstrate that areas without rock art were also exploited and settled by contemporary groups of foragers. Ritual landscapes The discussion so far has led to the preliminary conclusion that natural places played an important role for locating this art and that these places should play an important role in our attempts to interpret it (Sognnes 1998). In northern Scandinavia, traditional Sami offering sites were located at conspicuous topographical features (Manker 1957; Kjellström 2003), but these sites cannot be linked to prehistoric rock art. However, Myrholt (2007),


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway who focused on the rock paintings on the Fosen peninsula, west of Trondheimsfjord, claimed that they were made by Sami and interpreted them from a Southern Sami mythological perspective. On a general level, these aspects of Sami religion demonstrate that natural features played significant roles in the relationship between humans and nature as places where humans encountered the spirituality of nature. In general, physical evidence of this relationship is virtually invisible (Fjellheim 1990, 17), but some dominant topographical features are known to have been of great importance. Examples are the island of Tjåkhere in Tunnsjø, a lake in Nord-Trøndelag (Fjellheim 1989) and a cliff with a large anthropomorphic figure of natural origin at Seidjavr, a lake in northwestern Russia (Põllu 1990, 33). There is also a large, door-like depression in the vertical rock face of Basseuksa in the Darregájse massif in the Luleälv valley, northern Sweden (Manker 1971; Mulk and Bayliss-Smith 2006). This strongly resembles the situation at the Heggvik site. In Norwegian folklore, we also find indications that special topographical features play important roles in myths and legends. One example is the legend of the Leka Maiden (Lekamøya) which gives rise to the names of a number of prominent peaks along the coast between the towns of Namsos (Nord-Trøndelag) and Svolvær (Nordland). This legend may be one way of explaining why these particular mountains and places were once considered to have special powers. The legend takes place in the area where most cave art in Norway is found, whereas open-air rock art is relatively scarce, except for the sites at the mouth of Vefsnfjord and a cluster of sites further north in the Ofoten region (Gjessing 1932; Simonsen 1958). Although we cannot ignore the wider surroundings, it seems most likely that surfaces for placing rock art were chosen for their quality and special features in their immediate surroundings. We can easily imagine the 300 m high, unusually red island of Rødøya, at the foot of which the Rødøya carvings were made (T. Petersen 1930a; Gjessing 1936), being included in a similar myth. Based on the limited source material available, it is difficult to say whether Stone Age people considered parts of the landscape as sacred. Topographical features similar to those held sacred by the later Sami existed, but we cannot tell whether they were considered sacred unless they were marked in one way or another. That many rocks in this region actually are marked with rock art gives us a starting point for looking into this question. In an earlier study, I looked into this question in the lower part of the Stjørdal valley (Sognnes 1998), where we find possible indicators of landscapes held as sacred over a long time span from the Stone Age to the Medieval Period. Centrally in this area, we find Værnes Church which was built in the twelfth century as the minster of the Medieval Stjórdøla County, and farm names indicate that Viking Period and Iron Age temples for worshiping Norse gods existed. Going further back in time, we find rock art from the Early Iron Age, Bronze Age and Stone Age.

On the south side, near the mouth of the valley, Northern rock art sites are located at Lånke and Hell, while a large number of Southern tradition rock art panels have been identified on the north side of the valley (Sognnes 2001). Of special interest here is the large site at Ydstines on a plateau on the Ydstinesberga promontory along the foot of which the River Stjørdal has flowed for thousands of years (Sveian 1995). At Re Farm, west of this promontory, two small panels were found in an area where no rock art was known previously (Sognnes and Haug 1998). From these low outcrops, facing south, we see large parts of the wide plain created by the meandering river. In the foreground is Værnes Church and behind it the distinct crescent-shaped Tønsåsen ridge at the foot of which the Lånke carvings are located. Further southwest, we see the Steinmohaugen hillock at Hell. Behind us, Southern tradition rock carvings were recently discovered at Husby Farm, around 100 m above sea level (Birgisdóttir and Rullestad 2010). Clusters of Southern tradition rock carvings are found along the river plain on this northern side of the Stjørdal valley for more than 10 km (Sognnes 2001). Between worlds At the end of life, people are transferred from this world into another world, the underworld according to traditional Sami cosmology (Figure 89). As stated above, a rock face may represent a gateway between this world and the underworld and these gateways may be marked by rock art. This means that we may see the rock art panels as places where encounters between these two worlds took place, that is, where the living and the dead resided. Mortuary rites probably took place there, too. A close connection between rock art and death was proposed a century ago for Southern tradition rock art (Ekholm 1916). This interpretation, however, was soon integrated into the more widely accepted belief in fertility magic, death being part of the life cycle of all organic matter (Almgren 1927). Transferring this particular interpretation onto the rock art of Stone Age foragers is difficult due to lack of evidence. However, hardly any attempt has been made to find such evidence, and this question may be worth looking into. In a recent study, Lødøen (2014) discussed the rock carvings at Ausevik (Hagen 1970), which he dated to the Late Mesolithic. Lødøen suggested that these images were made as part of mortuary rituals, the images representing stylised skeletons associated with the secondary burial of the bones. He found the situation to be similar at the near-by Vingen site, which is dated to the same period. At these sites, many anthropomorphs, as well as zoomorphs, were apparently drawn like skeletons (Lødøen and Mandt 2012). Lødøen found support for this view in the ways human bones occur in burials and on dwelling sites in large parts of Europe. Mesolithic graves have been identified in southern Scandinavia, for instance at Vedbæk on Zealand, Denmark (Albrethsen and Nielsen 1977) and Skateholm


Presence in Scania, Sweden (Persson and Persson 1984), but so far no similar graves are reported from coastal Norway. This does not, however, exclude the possibility that Northern rock art was associated with death and mortuary rituals, especially since the maximum dates for many rock art sites in central Norway fall within the Neolithic. During this period, funeral monuments became common in southern Scandinavia, being constructed by early farmers. However, in Norway, Neolithic burial monuments are only known from the Oslofjord area (Østmo 2012), but a few smaller Neolithic graves are reported from central Norway (K. S. and Rønne 1996; K. S. Binns 2005; Asprem 2012). The number of graves from this period may actually be higher; stray finds of axes of southern Scandinavian types may derive from unidentified graves. Most of these axes were found during cultivation (Alsaker 2005, 75). This means that people in this region were being buried according to certain mortuary rituals at a time when Northern rock art was still being made. The question remains, however, whether rock art and graves were made by the same people or by people belonging to different groups. If so, was there any contact between these groups and did they have any influence on each other? Grave cist stone slabs decorated with carved images of supposed Bronze Age origin are known from southern and central Scandinavia. The most famous of these graves is the one at Bredarör in Kivik, Scania (e.g. Randsborg 1993; Goldhahn 2013). In Norway, decorated stone cists are primarily known from the Jæren region in Rogaland, southwestern Norway. They are, however, known from the Trondheimsfjord area, too. Unfortunately, only fragments of these decorated slabs exist today. The largest and most representative collection was found in the Mjeltehaugen mound at Giske Farm in Sunnmøre (e.g. Linge 2007). The decorations on these slabs mostly consist of geometric patterns: circles and semi-circles, rows of zigzags and parallel lines, which Marstrander (1978) and Mandt (1983) compared with decorated Neolithic grave slabs in Germany. Parallel zigzag lines that are associated with megalithic monuments in southern Scandinavia (Kaul 1993) are present in central Norway not only on grave slabs but in both major open-air rock art traditions as well (Sognnes 1995). The Mjeltehaugen slabs are of special interest here because they contain rows of boat images of a type (Figure 18) that Norwegian scholars believe predates the Bronze Age (Fett and Fett 1941, 137; Marstrander 1963, 137; Sognnes 1990, 104). Two fragments of similar grave slabs are found at Steine Farm in Trondheim. Like some of the Mjeltehaugen slabs, one of these fragments is decorated on both sides. A fragment of a decorated slab has also been found at Rishaug Farm on the south side of the mouth of Trondheimsfjord (Marstrander and Sognnes 1999). Part of a slab with a similar, fragmentary boat image was found in an apparently undisturbed grave cist at Skjervoll in Stjørdal. This cist was most probably built in the Early

Iron Age, being virtually identical to other Early Iron Age cists in the region. The slab was most probably in a secondary position. The largest cluster of boat images similar to the ones on the Mjeltehaugen slabs carved on rocks in Scandinavia is found on the Skatval promontory in Stjørdal, across the fjord from Evenhus, especially at Røkke Farm (K. Rygh 1908; Sognnes 2001a). This boat type is not represented among the images carved on Danish Bronze Age razors (Kaul 1998), which indicates that this motif was not part of the Bronze Age visual culture in southern Scandinavia. At Leirfall in Stjørdal, they occur together with framed zigzag patterns. Macroscopically, these two types of images appear to have been executed using the same technique, which is significantly different from the techniques used for the other roughly 1200 carvings known from this site. Based on the different boat types represented, carvings were probably made at Leirfall for a long period, from around 4000 to 1500 BP, which gives an average of 1-2 carvings per decade. More than one carving was probably made at the same time, which increases the average time span between new images being carved at this site. I have previously (Sognnes 2001a, 84) suggested that these events might be part of rituals connected with the change of leaders in the local community and thus be associated with death and successions. We may thus be facing a situation in the Trondheimsfjord area where the making of Southern tradition rock art was associated with death and mortuary rituals already in the Neolithic. Due to the ‘Neolithic’ symbols on these slabs, I therefore find it probable that they are Neolithic, too (Cochrane et al. 2015), and thus of interest for our understanding of the relationship between Northern and Southern Scandinavian rock art in this region. It seems reasonable to look at the Northern rock art from this perspective, too. However, we have no indications of how foragers in central Norway treated their deceased. The corpses may have been lowered into the sea or placed on cliffs and hillocks to be cleaned of flesh by birds and prey animals; rock art being made on suitable rock faces at the foot of these features, for instance at Hell, Søbstad and Evenhus which, as mentioned above, was located on an island in the middle of the fjord during the Neolithic and thus could be a centre for mortuary rites for people living around the central Trondheimsfjord basins. This, of course, is speculation and will most probably remain so. Proving that human corpses were placed on hillocks, etc. is virtually impossible after five or six millennia. Yet, I find it difficult to assign any of the Northern tradition motifs to a sphere of death, even if we accept that animals, like people, could move between different worlds. Animals may have regenerated and returned to this world from the underworld, but people, who were seen as individuals, apparently did not. The bird images, however, hold a special position, since it is waterfowl that are depicted. These birds operate in all three worlds and


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway as such represent travel between the three worlds. However, contrary to Sami cosmology (Figure 89), marine mammals may represent the underworld. Furthermore, we may substitute mythical reindeer with mythical elk. The boat images may represent funeral boats, which brings us back to the Mjeltehaugen and Leirfall boats. Then it is worth remembering Martynov’s (1990; 37) suggestion that boat images in Siberia were associated with souls floating towards ancestral origins. The boats in central Norway in particular relate to marine resources. There are relatively few boats in this area, but this is compensated for by other maritime motifs: whales, fish and porpoises, together with aquatic birds. I find it difficult to apply Lødøen’s model for Vingen to the rock art in central Norway. Anthropomorphic images are rare in this region and those that do exist do not look as though they are skeletonised. In addition, in the vast majority of the zoomorphic images that have internal line patterns, the patterns are the result of the drawing process; very few internal lines may be identified as ribs, with the exception of the ‘schematic’ images at Holte and Bardal. It is therefore difficult to establish any associations between rock art and mortuary rites. Yet, I believe that we should not a priori reject this model. Conclusions I see the making of rock art as a result of presence and encounters, and also as reflecting communication. The principal prerequisite is the presence of rocks, boulders or stones suitable for carving and painting images and symbols. The presence of creative humans is a second prerequisite. Sometimes nature has created meta-images that humans may perceive as representations of animals, humans or artefacts that otherwise are parts of the human world, as if nature is trying to communicate with people that happen to be present in front of the rocks. This would be communication without words. The making of rock art at sites like these may be an answer to the invitation of the rock to communicate with the human world. At other rocks, humans seem to have taken the initiative. The making of the very first image on a rock changed the role of humans in future encounters with this rock, as would the adding of new images. At panels like Bardal I, the human-rock relationship changed continuously over the millennia. At sites like Finnli, no later change apparently took place. Some of these initial encounters may have been secret, while others were public. The motifs chosen were not random; in general, cervids were preferred. Normally, these images were complete, but some were left unfinished and were comparable to the natural ‘images’ at Åmnes and Högberget. Humans, artists and spectators, were not normally depicted; they were present in the flesh. The animals depicted, elk, whales, fish or birds, were symbolically present in the shape of carvings or paintings on the rocks. Thus, Northern rock art sites did not only record encounters between humans and rocks, but also between humans and animals, animals and rocks, and different animals.

The sites would also be places where humans met humans. Dead animals or fragments of animals may have been present, as demonstrated by the excavation in Solsem cave, but no animal remains have so far been found in front of open-air rock art sites. This may be due to weathering processes, but nothing was found in the Sandhalsen rock shelter, large parts of which have been excavated (T. Petersen 1932; Sognnes 2015). The zoomorphic images carved or painted on rocks are not real animals but symbolic presentations of these animals, and they may also have functioned as symbols at many different levels, representing important hunting sites and different seasons, and also gender and other societal groups at different levels, special mythical events and natural and supernatural powers. The abundance of possible symbolic and metaphoric meanings of these images makes it extremely difficult to argue in favour of a particular meaning for one motif, one panel and one site. We may by chance identify the ‘correct meaning’, but we cannot prove it. For symbols that were used for millennia, which appear to be the case for the Northern rock art in Scandinavia, it is improbable that a certain symbol had one and the same meaning during this long time span within this large area. The local topography around the panels should also be taken into consideration when we try to interpret the rock art. Here, we find many variations. At some sites, there was room for little more than encounters between a few humans and the rock. At other sites, performances could be staged in front of many people representing one or more groups, whether tribes or kinship groups. It is unlikely that the panels on the latter sites were located within or immediately above the intertidal zone. For almost a century, the Northern rock art of central Norway has been sorted into three style groups, yet superficially it generally gives an impression of homogeneity. This impression is largely due to the predominance of images belonging to Gjessing’s style II, but also because all the styles are represented in most clusters around Trondheimsfjord. Distinct differences between sites and panels can, however, be identified. A number of different drawing methods are present, too. These differences may be interpreted as representing different artists, but also groups of people at different levels, from kinship groups to ethnic groups. During the Late Mesolithic and Neolithic, groups of foragers gradually became more sedentary, with a stronger focus on territoriality. This may have led to a need to mark their permanent presence in the landscape around the central and inner parts of Trondheimsfjord and at Romsdalsfjord. Whether people were present or not, this presence was permanently signified by the rock images. Some would even signify places where people belonging to different groups came together. Northern rock art in this region may have had a double function, marking the permanent presence of people and the difference between foragers living a traditional way of life and the growing groups of farmers.


Presence The motifs may represent different social groups, primarily a terrestrial group symbolically represented by elk and a maritime group represented by whales. These groups may have been divided further, the subgroups being represented by a few other animals. These subgroups appear to have been located peripherally to the main groups. Boats were primarily depicted at two sites at Trondheimsfjord. The Evenhus site shows that this motif was late, the carvings at this site being made at the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. The introduction of this motif may be associated with increased Neolithic influence in the region. Boats became the main symbol for Bronze Age agrarian groups in the Trondheimsfjord area; boat images of Southern tradition types were carved from the beginning of the Bronze Age through to the Iron Age Roman period. For both rock art traditions, the presence of humans was decisive. This is most obviously demonstrated by the many carvings depicting imprints of foot soles that are present on the Southern tradition rock art sites in Stjørdal (Sognnes 2001; Nilsen 2009). The Bardal and Hammer sites are located on the northern side of the Beitstadfjord basin. It is most uncommon to find Bardal I, where the carvings have been subject to severe

weathering. This suggests that these two sites belong to two large Northern sites so close to each other. The carvings at Hammer appear to be later than the ones at different phases. Although I find it most unlikely that Bardal I was located on the shore, the distance from the sea may eventually have become too great for people arriving by boat, and the panel lost its importance. A new central rock art site for people living in the Beitstadfjord basin was then developed at Hammer. The transformation of the Bardal I panel into a major place for Southern tradition carvings would not then represent such a dramatic event as the making of the large Southern boat images might indicate. On the contrary, these and other new motifs being carved into this rock face would create a continuation between the past and the present on a rock where the older carvings per se no longer communicated with contemporary people. New encounters took place, and people and the rock face again started communicating with each other. As demonstrated by the Southern rock art sites in the Stjørdal and Gauldal valleys, the distance from the sea played a minor role for the location of this rock art. This is also shown by the large cluster of Southern carvings on the adjacent farms of Tessem and Benan in the interior of the Beitstad promontory (Grønnesby 2006; Lindgaard 2006).



Schools of interpretation

For many years, Scandinavian archaeology was strongly influenced by diffusionism – the ex oriente lux paradigm; all new ideas were supposed to come from the south, or if that model did not fit, from the east. This was actually the case for rock art. Shetelig (1922, 141) argued that the Stone Age rock art of Scandinavia ultimately had its origin in the Franco-Cantabrian cave art. Gjessing (1936; 1945), however, claimed that the making of the large ‘naturalistic’ carvings in northern Norway was a local invention, but he saw a possible origin for the later, smaller and more ‘schematic’ ones in the east, in presentday Russia (Gjessing 1936, 1978). As regards the origin of the Northern rock art in Scandinavia, there appeared to be only one alternative to the Franco-Cantabrian cave art and that was the rock art in northern Russia and Siberia. This eastern rock art was little known at that time, but some Finnish archaeologists (e.g. Tallgren 1933) had presented some of the material in western periodicals. However, eastern contacts for the Northern rock art traditions remained only a vague possibility for decades.

When Shetelig (1922), who believed that the Northern rock art tradition in Scandinavia was made during the Stone Age, searched for a possible cultural background for this tradition, he looked to the literature about the Palaeolithic cave art in southwestern Europe, focusing on the work of Reinach (1903) which was based on anthropological studies of aborigines in central Australia (Spencer and Gillen 1899). Shetelig, however, focused on hunting magic alone. Gjessing (1936) followed up Shetelig’s work and strongly propagated the role hunting magic played in Stone Age northern Scandinavia as evidenced by the rock art. He also found support for this interpretation in the work of Mallery (1893), which dealt with Indian tribes in North America, and Frobenius’ (1923) studies in Africa. Thus, from the very beginning, the interpretation of the Northern rock art in Norway was based on anthropological studies from the 1880s and 1890s in (as seen from northern Scandinavia) remote parts of the world. In contrast, Brøgger (1925) found arguments in local historic sources (Krogh 1813) for his interpretation of this rock art as expressing ‘the psychology of hunting’.

Summing up, we find that Norwegian rock art research has a long history and very few researchers have taken part in the discourse except for presenting new discoveries. Questions asked and problems identified almost a century ago remained the same. A framework was established within which new generations of specialists were trained to think, following the lead of the founders of this research tradition.

After Gjessing finished the important project of investigating and publishing the Northern rock art in Norway in the 1930s, its study came to a virtual standstill (Gjessing 1978, 14). However, there were a few exceptions, including Hagen’s (1970) study of the Ausevik site, Sogn and Fjordane, and Simonsen’s (1958) sequel to Gjessing’s work in northern Norway. Not until the 1980s, did a new generation of specialists begin studying this important part of the visual culture of northern Scandinavia. This means that the structuralist school represented by Leroi-Gourhan (1965) hardly had any influence on Norwegian rock art research.

In the last chapter, I ended up seeing the rock art motifs as symbols, primarily representing different groups that met or visited the same places in a landscape offering both marine and terrestrial food resources for migrating groups of foragers that marked this landscape with their own symbols of entity. When the people left these sites, they were still symbolically present. This is, however, only one of many possible interpretations. The motifs in question vary greatly in the ways they were actually drawn. They may therefore mediate several messages (Sjöstrand 2012, 55), and in the following I will look into other possible interpretations of the rock art motifs and their distributions.

About this time, rock art studies started becoming popular around the world, for instance in the USA (e.g. Wellmann 1979; Grant 1992), Australia (e.g. Maynard 1977; Layton 1992) and southern Africa (e.g. Vinnicombe 1976; Lewis-Williams 1981), where exceptionally large amounts of hunter-gatherer rock art are known. These studies inspired Norwegian scholars, too (e.g. Helskog 1999; 2012). These new anthropologically based trends have primarily focused on interpretation. Little has been done on classification (but see Helskog 1984; 1989). One reason why this old paradigm has lasted this long is that few specialists have actively studied rock art (Sognnes 1991).

Ancient religions Rock art may be associated with several different worlds. It exists in our world, but was created in a world of ancestors. As soon as the generations who made the rock art were gone, it became part of the past and eventually part of the spirit world of these ancestors, but at the same time it is physically present in the world of the living.


Multiple Worlds We might find evidence that the animals depicted belonged to a world parallel to ours, existing within the rock. Parallel worlds underground and inside mountains play important roles in Norwegian folklore (e.g. Visted and Stigum 1971). Trolls live in mountains, but may enter the human world at night, gnomes live underground and brownies in the outhouses on farms, etc. These creatures of other worlds were normally invisible for humans.

‘Lord of the Beasts’, the supreme god, lived on among Eurasian tribes like the Samoyeds under the name of Num. Among Germanic tribes, the sun god called Tiwaz (Norse Tyr) was the supreme god before Odin reached this status (Ohlmarks 1979, 14). Davidson (1982, 19), however, suggested that the main divinity in Neolithic Scandinavia was the Earth Mother who made the earth fertile and brought increase to animals as well as healthy children to the humans.

In the ancient (Norse) religion of the Scandinavians, a cow called Audhumbla had a central role in the myth explaining the creation of the world. Audhumbla fed a mythical giant called Yme who drank the milk coming from her four teats. The god Odin and his brothers Vile and Ve killed Yme. These three brothers dismembered him and created the world from his body. From Yme’s blood came the oceans, and his skull was transformed into the vault of heaven. This story is referred to in the Edda and is part of the Gylvaginning, the first part of Snorri’s Younger Edda. This myth was written down two and a half millennia after the making of Northern rock art came to an end, and the fact that Audhumbla was a cow places it within a society of farmers. Yet, this myth might have an earlier origin, but then an elk cow would instead be the mother animal of the world.

More than any other, Gimbutas (e.g. 1982) searched for ancient gods and goddesses, focusing on Neolithic southeastern Europe. It is difficult to see any direct connections between the possible gods and goddesses represented in the visual culture of Neolithic southeastern Europe and the Northern rock art of Scandinavia. We should, however, be aware of possible contacts between these two visual cultures that roughly coincide temporally, the Neolithic being a period with migrations and contacts over large parts of Europe (Cunliffe 2008). Gimbutas associated two goddesses with water, identifying a ‘Snake Goddess’ and a ‘Bird Goddess’ that may operate separately, but also as a single divinity. She further focused on a ‘Great Goddess of Life, Death and Regeneration’, seeing the doe deer as a double of the goddess of regeneration and the bear as a double of the goddess as a mother and nurse (Gimbutas 1982, 112, 171, 190). Gimbutas emphasised the existence of drawings depicting stags with large antlers on vases of the Starcevo complex. Searching for followers like these, we should not look only at Norse and Sami mythology as we know this today, but also at contemporary European Neolithic mythology. Gimbutas believed that the role of the deer in ancient European myths was not created among early farmers, but was inherited from a primeval foraging era (Gimbutas 1982, 171-174).

The Swedish religious historian, Ohlmarks (1979, 19-20), saw the Norse creation myth as representing an IndoEuropean worldview among the first farmers settling in Europe. Trøndelag and the adjacent part of northern Sweden may be considered a frontier zone between foragers and farmers during the Neolithic (Hyenstrand 1987, 209). A frontier can be seen as a geographical area as well as a social process (Billington 1967, 7), but I am here primarily concerned with the latter meaning. Within a zone like this, farmers’ myths may have been incorporated into the mythology of the foragers and vice versa. This, of course, is speculation, but we should take into consideration that the larger cervids played important roles in ancient forager religions in many parts of northern Eurasia (Martynov 1991).

Green (1991, 23), too, emphasised a close connection between the sun and the deer, using rock carvings from Valcamonica as her main example. These deer images were mostly carved on statue-stelae that are dated to the Chalcolithic Period 4800-4000 BP (Anati 2004, 124125), which corresponds to the Middle Neolithic of Scandinavia.

The Bardal carvings are of special interest for this question. At Bardal I, at least two strata of Northern rock art are found. Superimposed on these around 50 carvings are more than 300 Southern tradition carvings (Gjessing 1935), which today destroy the visual impression of the original carvings. This site gives no impression of peaceful transition and integration. Rather, one gets the impression that a major iconoclastic event must have taken place in the Early Bronze Age. There is, however, an alternative explanation. Bardal may have lost its importance, its position being taken over by the Hammer site 6 km further west a long time before the first Bronze Age carvings were made. Referring to the works of Herbert Kühn, Ohlmarks (1979, 8) stated that a kind of monotheism existed already from the very beginning. He suggested that a ‘Lord of the Beasts’ represented this primeval monotheism. Apparently, no images were made of this suggested male divinity. Ohlmarks further suggested that the idea of the

Returning to central Norway, we find that elk and reindeer, which substitute for the deer of southern Europe, are represented, together with birds and bears. While bear images are frequent in Alta (Helskog 2012b), they are rare in central Norway. In general, birds, too, are rare in this region as in other parts of Scandinavia. Their dominant position at Hammer and Horjem therefore may be due to a local invention. Following this way of thinking, we may identify anthropomorphs as representing the main male divinity, the ‘Lord of the Beasts’. The whale images do not fit this interpretation. However, the boat with concentric rings at Evenhus may represent the sun being transported over the sky, like it has been claimed for Southern Scandinavian boat images being associated with solar symbols (Davidson 1982; Green


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway focused on Southern Sami myths in his interpretation of the rock paintings on the Fosen peninsula. Identifying gods, whether Norse or Sami, in the Northern rock art of central Norway is difficult because of the large time gap between Stone Age and Bronze Age rock art and sources about Norse and Sami religions and because anthropomorphic images Figure 87. Motifs from Sami drums that appear to be represented in the Northern rock art of are rare and without central Norway (originals from Manker 1971). identifiable attributes in the Northern rock art of 1991, Kaul 1998). This would be an argument in favour this region. However, I see a possible identification of a of the hypothesis presented in chapter 7 that immigrating Norse god in the skier recently discovered at Bøla. farmers actually made these boat images, but this According to the poem Grimnesmál in the Edda and the composite image may also be the result of the rings being Gylvaginning, the Norse god Njord, father of the siblings a later addition to the boat image. Frey and Freya, married Skade, daughter of the giant Tjatse. Njord, who was the god of the sea, resided at I do not here claim the existence of religious contacts Noatun, while Skade decided to stay at her late father’s between these two parts of Europe. Nor am I convinced residence Trymheim in the mountains. Here, she enjoyed by Gimbutas’ identifications of gods and goddesses in the skiing, hunting animals with bow and arrow, and was visual culture of southeastern Europe, but I feel that the referred to as the goddess of skiing. The union between question of whether the hunter-gatherers of Neolithic Njord and Skade is a union between the sea and the northern Scandinavia worshipped divinities and, if so, inland and mountains, comparable to the combination of that these divinities and/or their doubles should be the two main motifs of Northern rock art: whales and examined in contemporary visual culture. elk/reindeer. The names of these two residences (Steinsland 2005, 146) represent the coast and farmland Supreme beings (Njord) and the wild, natural landscape (Skade). Gods played important roles in both Norse and the ancient Sami religion, but these supreme beings have mostly been seen in relation to the many anthropomorphic images present in the Southern rock art tradition. J. Bing (e.g. 1937) was especially interested in this question, focusing on identifying members of the Norse pantheon among the rock carvings in Bohuslän. He also compared these rock images with gods drawn on Sami shaman drums, finding similarities that led him to conclude that the Sami gods were identical to and derived from the Norse gods, but figured under different names. Ohlmarks, too, claimed that the root of the Norse religion went far back in time, and we find elements of the same thinking about ancient gods being depicted in the Southern tradition rock art among later researchers, too (Bertilsson 1999).

Parallel to the Norse mythology, we should also look into the traditional Sami religion. I have already referred to J. Bing’s (1937) evaluation of the Sami gods in relationship to the Southern tradition rock art. This way of thinking clearly is not comme il faut today, and here I see the Sami gods as independent from the Norse pantheon. Information about ancient Sami gods in the early nineteenth century was collected and commented on by Læstadius (18001861) who for many years worked as a parson in northern Sweden (Læstadius 2002). Early scholars grouped the Sami gods into four classes: high above, above, on the earth and below the earth. The supreme god was called Radien Atzhie and was believed to ‘reign with limitless power over heaven and earth, over all other gods, and over the Lapps [Sami] themselves’. On the second level, we find the sun god Beiwe, often symbolised by a quadrangle drawn at the centre of Sami drums (Figure 92). Madder Attje was ranked as the highest of the level three gods, closely beneath the sun (Læstadius 2002, 7281). Sami gods and goddesses were drawn on the drums, but it is most unlikely that they may be identified among the few anthropomorphic images found in the Northern rock art in central Norway.

These attempts to com-bine ancient images and later texts raise two important questions: were Sami and Norse gods the same and do these religions go back to the Bronze Age or even to the Stone Age? A possible Sami perspec-tive on our understanding and interpretation of the Northern rock art within the study area is, in general, missing. How-ever, Myrholt (2008)


Multiple Worlds Figure 87 show a selection of images represented on Sami drums (Manker 1965; 1971) that are comparable to Northern rock art motifs. The four images in the lower row are identified as gods. They all carry long staffs in each hand, among them the god of the wind Bieggolmai (Figure 89H) who carries two paddles with which he creates the wind. No corresponding images are known from the rock art in central Norway, but as is shown in Figure 90 anthropomorphs holding one staff are known from two sites. The other images depict motifs familiar from this rock art, too, but they are drawn in distinctly different styles. To some extent, this is due to the small format in which these images were drawn, but stylistic differences per se do not exclude possible contacts between these two traditions of visual culture that are separated by millennia. It should, however, be mentioned here that Stebergløkken (2016) has shown that stylistic differences in the Northern rock art in central Norway were created on a personal level.

Figure 88. Reindeer under the Northern Lights(?) at Hell in Stjørdal (after Sognnes 1981).

foremost all the focus on elk and reindeer these visual culture traditions have in common, but we find significant differences here, too. We do not find a similar focus on reindeer in the Northern rock art of central Norway. Nor do we find any particular focus on the elk antler.

About 3100 images are known from the around 70 still existing Sami drums, many of the images being variations of the same traditional motifs. No identical drums exist, which Manker (1965, 33) wrote represented an expression of the conceptual minds of the individual owners. We also find that each motif may be drawn in many different ways, in particular the elk and reindeer images. This comes very close to Stebergløkken’s (2016) way of seeing style in Northern rock art as expressing individual ways of drawing the rock images.

Two elk with antlers are found on the Evenhus II panel. These antlers, however, protrude forwards and look more like reindeer antlers. The ways they were drawn also indicate that they are later additions. The special focus on reindeer on the Sami drums is not found in the rock art. This is probably because the domestication of reindeer took place later and the images on the drums depict domesticated animals. The focus on sun symbols and supreme beings on the drums also differentiates these two visual cultures.

The boat in Figure 87G resembles boat images found at Southern tradition sites in Stjørdal, central Norway (Sognnes 2001), but it apparently also has a mast, indicating that it depicts a much later boat. Of special interest is the way some elk antlers are drawn; these, too, resemble boats with crews (Figure 87E-F). This trait is found on many elk images in the Stone Age rock painting tradition in Finland (Lahelma 2008). Depictions of reindeer with antlers (Figure 87C-D) are common. The fish shown as Figure 87A resembles the painted fish image at Teksdal in Bjugn, while the bird (Figure 87B) contains more anatomical details than we find on rock art images. Images representing the sun play a central role on many Sami drums, often drawn as a diamond-shaped symbol in the centre of the drum. Parallels of some circular sun symbols are found in the Southern rock art tradition. Boats were used as potent metaphors for the transport of souls to and from the underworld (Mulk and Bayliss-Smith 2007, 106).

This lack of similarities does not, however, exclude the possibility of a connection between the Northern rock art tradition and the Sami shaman drums, but the large time gap between these two art traditions, combined with a significant discrepancy of motifs and the ways these were drawn, makes it impossible for us to infer the existence of a link between them. Myths In a study of Rio Grande Valley rock art in New Mexico, USA, Patterson-Rudolph (1990) managed to link rock carvings found on some panels with known myths. However, she found no apparent linearity in the way the images were placed on the rock. Hence, it was impossible to read the myth based on the carvings alone. The myth had to be translated from pictures into words and it was the storyteller who decided how the panel should be read, pointing at the relevant images as the story proceeded. In theory, it may be possible to tell several different myths, depending on the order in which the images were read.

Anthropomorphic images are scarce in the Northern rock art of central Norway and in general are without any identifiable attributes. The main exception is the skier at Bøla and the phallic man possibly wearing a mask at Lånke. Stick-line skiers are common on Sami shaman drums, but the way these humans are drawn has more in common with the stick-line images in the Southern rock art tradition. In general, the maritime aspect which plays an important role in the rock art being studied here is not present on Sami drums, which further emphasises the difference between these two visual cultures. It is first and

I have earlier discussed whether scenes are represented in the Northern rock art in central Norway. I see this as a prerequisite for us to be able to identify myths. The boat and whale composition at Vasstrand may be a representation of a struggle between humans and the


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway forces of the ocean, and the scratched boats superimposed on elk and reindeer at the Honnhammar I paintings may represent an addition of a maritime aspect to an original myth. However, of course, both panels may represent totally different myths or stories, or no myths at all.

awe, but they do not seem to have been depicted in rock art, unless the Northern Lights were drawn as series of more or less parallel zigzags, here exemplified by one of the smaller Hell images (Figure 88). Pullõ, furthermore, found parallels between the River Vyg rock art and the Finnish Kalevala epos, which has a parallel in Estonian folklore (Kalevägi). He made a series of mezzotints with motifs from this epos partly based on these rock images (Põllu 1988).

A myth may also be ‘told’ by means of images located on several panels, for instance at Bøla. In Finnish folklore (the Kalevala), the shaman Lemminkäinen made a heavenly journey searching for the Hiisi Elk, which like the bear was born in the astral hemisphere. Lemminkäinen managed to find his prey by skiing the Milky Way (Pentikäinen 1998, 44). Looking at the Bøla panels from this perspective, we find a skier and a possible hunted celestial animal (in this case a reindeer) as well as a bear.

Pentikäinen (1998) tells how a Khanty (Siberian) shaman described the mythical six-legged elk (like the reindeer chased by Lemminkäinen) being created by the main Khanty god, Num Torum, and how the two hind legs were cut off by the god’s son. While doing this, the shaman illustrated the myth by making a drawing he referred to as ‘the evening star’ and later identified this elk in the night sky within the star constellation of Cassiopeia and Perseus, the body of the animal being located on the Milky Way (Pentikäinen 1998, 69-73). We appear to find here some of the same elements as in the Finnish Lemminkäinen myth, but we also come close to Põllu’s (1990b) identification of the Milky Way at the River Vyg.

The distances between the panels in question support the possibility that this may be a story about a journey; a person is skiing along the River Bøla from Lake Snåsa or Snåsafjord towards the large reindeer that frequently disappears into the water or is covered by ice. That these images are on three different panels may strengthen this story as representing a long, tedious journey. It seems, however, difficult to explain the presence of the animals on the same panel as the skier. (These are unfortunately strongly weathered.) Bears are common in Finnish folklore, as they are in the Alta rock art, but they are hardly represented in the rock art of central Norway. The presence of a bear at Bøla may thus further emphasise the uniqueness of these panels. Like the elk, the bear, too, is a celestial animal (Pentikäinen 1998, 74; 2007).

Northern cosmology In his interpretation of the Alta rock art, Helskog (1999) focused on the tri-partite worldview among shamanic tribes in the north. This is based on the shore connection of the many panels in this area. The cosmology of northern peoples in Eurasia recognises three worlds: the upper, the lower, and the middle world where people live. Each of these worlds has its own characteristics, being located in the sky, on land, and underground and under water. The upper and lower worlds are copies of the middle world where people and animals live (Helskog 1999, 76). This means that the spirits of the dead live lives similar to those of the human middle world.

Dark skies up above The Estonian artist, Kaljo Põllu, who together with his art students studied traditional life among Fenno-Ugric peoples in the former Soviet Union (Põllu 1990a), compared some of the major rock art panels beside the River Vyg, also referred to as Staraja Zalavruga, near the White Sea with certain star constellations. The central part of a panel that contains a row of boat images, a large reindeer and some small groups of images, he found to represent a mirror reflection of the Milky Way, which in folk traditions is compared to a tree. The line of boats split into two near the end, just like the Milky Way. The large reindeer seemingly pushes this line of boats, making them rotate around its centre represented by the Polar Star. He further identified Orion and the Little (or Lesser) Bear and the Plough, which in northern lands may be referred to as the Great Bear (Põllu 1990b).

Mulk and Bayliss-Smith (2006; 2007) followed the same line of interpretation in their study of ancient, sacred Sami landscapes. They saw the upper world as synonymous with the south, river headwaters, mountains and heavens. The World River runs in the middle world, connecting the upper and lower worlds. Fir trees connected the earth with the heavens. The lower world is synonymous with the north, river mouths, cold sea and the underworld (Mulk and Bayliss-Smith 2007, 107). They further developed this model based on data from a number of Fenno-Ugrian and Siberian tribes, as shown in Figure 89, which presents a generalised and abstract image of the traditional Sami worldview.

These identifications can be disputed, but Põllu may be into something, which, however, probably cannot be confirmed. In northernmost Europe, the sun is below the horizon in midwinter and for months the dark winter night sky dominates human visual experiences as far south as central Norway. In these regions, the Northern Lights (Aurora borealis) create spectacular, multicoloured shows. In summer, the stars are hardly visible and north of the Arctic Circle the sun may shine all through the night. We cannot tell whether Stone Age people in northern Scandinavia held these phenomena in

In Sami cosmology, the River Blood runs from north to south. Looking at the rock art in central Norway from this perspective, the focus on rivers is missing, the vast majority of sites being located by the sea. This is the case in Alta, too, and Helskog focused on the location of the carvings in the transition zone between land and sea, where the three worlds (sea, land and air) with their


Multiple Worlds respective faunas meet in the liminal intertidal zone. This zone may potentially be a strong place for ritual com-munication (Helskog 1999, 77). Gjerde (2010, 115-117) also emphasised the importance of Arctic cosmology for our understanding of Northern rock art. Some sites in central Norway are of interest for this question. At Hell, Søbstad, Honnhammar II and III and Stykket, the strip of land where people could stand, making and viewing rock art, was limited. Standing on these narrow ledges facing the panel, you would virtually be standing in the sea, experiencing the land as a vertical cliff towering above, and when you lifted your head you would see the sky above. There was little space for living animals here; they would be sought for behind the rock veil. Some sites may have been located at the foot of sacred mountains, for instance at Rødsand, where Rødsand-berget, as seen from the other side of the Frei sound, forms a distinct, triangular peak. The situation is Figure 89. Reconstruction similar at the red island of 2006). Rødøya. The steep-sided islets, which were the original locations of the Hell and Søbstad panels, may also have been significant and secret places. As remarked earlier, even larger parts of the landscape may have been sacred (chapter 7). Liminality van Gennep (1906) introduced the term liminality as part of the rites of separation from a previous world to a new world, and divided these rites into three levels: preliminal rites, liminal (or threshold), and post-liminal rites. However, he also used the term territorial passages (van Gennep 1960, 21) that seem to have relevance for studying rock art in their landscape contexts. Turner (1967), too, discussed liminality, but focused on the liminal personae. However, he wrote that opposite processes and notions may coincide in a single representation, seeing the liminal as ‘is neither this nor that, and yet is both’ (Turner 1967, 99). He further emphasised that the human body was seen as a microcosm of the universe (Turner 1967, 107). While it is difficult, based on prehistoric material and visual sources, to identify the existence of the liminal phases of individual persons, it may be feasible to identify possible liminal zones in the physical world.

of ancient Saami world view (after Mulk and Bayliss-Smith

Tilley (1991) introduced liminality in the rock art research in Scandinavia in his study of the Nämforsen site in northern Sweden at the large, lowermost waterfall on the River Ångerman. It has since been discussed by Helskog (1999) from the perspective of the Alta rock art, by Mulk and Bayliss-Smith (2006) for Sami rock art at Badjelánda in northern Sweden, and by Bradley (1997) for Southern tradition rock art in Bohuslän, Sweden. Westerdahl (2005; 2006; 2009), who for years has studied the maritime cultural landscape, regards the coast as a liminal zone. I have earlier pointed out a problem with the relevance of Westerdahl’s work for the study of pre-farming societies, but his way of thinking may still have relevance for studies of the rock art of foragers who marked their presence in the landscape with both terrestrial and maritime motifs, which is the case in central Norway. In his search for evidence that the border zone between land and sea is marked in a special way, Westerdahl looked for archaeological remains that may mark this zone, and in the case of Neolithic remains he identified sacrificial deposits, rock carvings and early ship-formed graves, and for the Bronze Age, coastal grave mounds and cairns, ship settings and rock carvings


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway (Westerdahl 2009, 317). Not all these remains are, however, present in this study area.

based on a one-factor analysis. Additional information has been presented for Alta; rock consisting of differently coloured schist layers is prominent when it is wet (Sørgård 2009).

Westerdahl further suggested that a liminal area could be recreated by superimposing new rock carvings on older ones, the Mesolithic foragers hunting both whales and elk. During the Neolithic, inland hunting in southern Scandinavia was replaced by farming (Westerdahl 2009, 318). The upper border of the non-liminal part of the landscape he found difficult to delineate, but he suggested that (for the Bronze Age) it would be visible from the water or within a possible view from a cairn. Transferred to the land and the time of coastal rock art, this would be as far inland as the rock art site could be seen, or the sea was visible from the site. Implicit in this, as I see it, is that the upper border of the liminal zone follows the line between what can be seen and what cannot be seen from the sea of details in the landscape.

Returning to central Norway, we may see the sites at Bøla and Finnli from the perspective of liminality. At these sites, panels and carvings disappear and reappear seasonally, depending on rain, snow and ice. The rivers may represent a liminal place. At other sites, like Evenhus, the motifs symbolically represent the presence of liminality; the land represented by elk and the sea by whales and boats. At Hammer and Bardal I, birds represent the sky (also all three worlds). At Bardal I, elk images cover most of this large panel, while whale and bird images are placed peripherally on it. At Rødsand, we find a division between the sea to the left (whales) and the land to the right (elk and other terrestrial animals). At Bogge, terrestrial animals are only found on the upper panels (Bogge I and IV), while whale images are on the lower Bogge II panel. Late(?) Southern tradition boat images dominate on the lowermost Bogge IV panel (Bakka 1987).

Helskog (1999) emphasised that many rock art sites are located near settlement sites, for instance in Alta, Vingen and Nämforsen, and also on Sørøya, an island at the mouth of Altafjord, where boulders with carvings are found in a Stone Age settlement. This seems to be the situation at Vistnesdalen and Remmen, too (see above). However, most rock art sites appear not to be associated with habitation. In general, the carvings are found on fairly well-preserved rocks, which are normally located by the shore. The carvings are frequently associated with water, and water should therefore be included in our interpretations: ‘an explanation should include all carvings, not just some of them as is the case of those related to hunting magic’. Helskog thus sought an explanation that was common for rock art over large areas. This he found in the location of the art in the shore zone, and he further suggested that the rock art was located at places where different natural zones meet: land, sea and air (Helskog 1999, 73-75). Gjerde (2010, 404) strongly supported this, claiming that there is only one common locational factor for Northern rock art and that is its shore connection.

We find here that liminal zones other than the shore may be identified, not only along rivers but also being created by humans when selecting surfaces for carving or painting images, or carving groups of images on the surfaces. Moreover, we may also identify rock that is part of the land, but at the same time seems to imitate the sea, being metaphorically represented by petrified waves. Shamanism Shamanism played a minor role in the debate around Norwegian rock art for most of the twentieth century, but, in common with the situation internationally, it has recently become a major element in the interpretation of Northern rock art. The debate now follows several lines of thinking based on a variety of sources, literary sources from Medieval times and later dealing with pre-Christian religions (Norse and Sami) in Scandinavia, data from other parts of the world collected by anthropologists, and rock art imagery depicting possible shamans and images and symbols believed to have been experienced by shamans during altered states of consciousness. To these may be added graves containing possible shaman paraphernalia, which are supposedly contemporary with the rock art. The last mentioned seems to have little direct relevance for Northern rock art since hardly any contemporary graves are known in northern Scandinavia. However, we face severe methodological problems for all these methods, including the important problem of representativeness.

I instinctively react against this statement. The shoreline alone cannot explain the distribution of all Northern rock art. Suitable rocks existed almost everywhere, also above the contemporary shores. The choice of certain surfaces clearly also depends on other factors that should be taken into consideration. Why were these particular surfaces chosen? The presence of water (read: shoreline) is no more than a hypothesis that can and should be tested. Considering the location of most northern sites, proximity to the sea, often within view from the sea and vice versa, obviously was an important general location factor, but other possible factors should also be taken into account and as many sites as possible should be subjected to systematic studies regarding the shape and petrology of the rocks chosen compared with surrounding rocks, the view from and towards the sites, other structures that distinguish the site from its surroundings, possible boat landings, etc. So far, the claim that all Northern rock art sites should be interpreted as if they were shore bound is

The current use of the terms shamanism and shaman, shamanic/shamanistic for a worldwide phenomenon of all times (e.g. Clottes and Lewis-Williams 1996; LewisWilliams 2002) has been contested (e.g. Bahn 2001; Helvenston and Bahn 2005; 2010; Helvenston 2015). Kehoe (2008, 128) maintained that ‘Calling the religions of all non-Western small societies for “shamanic” is […]


Multiple Worlds racist, because it lumps a huge diversity of cultural histories into one category that is contrasted with another set implicitly—and not so long ago openly—labelled “civilized”.’ To some extent, we may avoid these negative implications by using the term ‘ecstatic religions’ (Lewis 2003). We may also thus avoid the problem inherent in the use of the originally Siberian Tungus term saman being given a new and wider meaning.

studies from Australia, southern Africa and North America, regions far away from northernmost Europe. The rock art of northern Scandinavia should rather be compared to traditional cultures elsewhere in northern Eurasia, where we also find the homeland of the term shamanism, which has been practised from the coast of the North Atlantic to the North Pacific. Pentikäinen (1998, 117) operates with 26 different peoples in this part of Russia; to these should be added the peoples of FennoScandia. However, the many languages spoken within this vast area, combined with the political situation during most of the twentieth century, have hampered relevant comparative studies. The situation is better today, but, as emphasised by Pentikäinen (1998, 17), archaeologists and religion researchers should study ancient religions together.

Shamanism has been practised among numerous native tribes and groups in large parts of the northern hemisphere (e.g. Pentikäinen 1998) and may be a relevant framework for interpreting rock art in this hemisphere, as demonstrated for Siberia and central Asia (Devlet 2001; 2004) as well as the far western USA (Whitley 1992; 2000), southern Texas (Zintgraff and Turpin 1991) and northern Mexico (Turpin 2010). Dowson (2009, 380) admitted that the shamanic approach for understanding rock art is not without its problems. Based on rock art studies in southern Africa, he showed that this art includes different themes that involve concepts of supernatural potency that have nothing to do with shamanism.

During the last 400 years, the Sami religion has been under strong influence from Christianity, but ancient traits can still be identified, in particular the shamanic aspect of the traditional Sami culture (Pentikäinen 1998, 23). Shamanic rituals possibly played no role for ordinary day-to-day hunting and fishing; fish, for instance, may be caught virtually everywhere in the many sounds and fjords in coastal Norway. However, Westerdahl (2005) emphasised the danger of crossing the liminal zone between land and sea, and vice versa. Large animals that are difficult to catch dominate Northern rock art. Normally, many people would take part in hunting expeditions searching for these animals, and these hunts may have lasted for days, even weeks. This supports the idea that shamans were called upon during preparations for these major hunts. However, rock art clearly was not made as part of the preparation for every hunt, but rituals may have been performed at established rock art sites.

Pentikäinen (1998, 11) wrote that shamanism should be understood as a religious, social and cultural ‘phenomenon that should be analysed as a whole’, focusing on ‘the visible elements of shamanism as well as its latent meanings and esoteric messages’. He further emphasised that we should take a holistic approach when investigating a religious tradition, studying religion both ‘vertically and horizontally in its cultural and social context’ (Pentikäinen 1998, 17). The latter is extremely difficult to do based on archaeological data alone, where only a few fragmented material elements are available for study.

Shamanism is known from Norse mythology, too (e.g. Steinsland 2005), often in the form of shape shifting: the shaman changing into another person or an animal. The supreme god Odin in particular was known for his ability to transform himself into different animals. Solli (2002) claimed that shamanism, as described in Medieval Norse literature, shows many similarities with traditional Sami shamanism in which the use of drums played an important part; beating the drum helped the shamans to enter into a trance (e.g. Schefferus 1673; Leem 1767). Another trait typical for Norse shamans was that they carried a special staff (Solli 2002, 131, 233).

Ohlmarks (1979, 9) identified the anthropomorphs of the Northern rock art tradition as shamans acting as mediators between humans and the powers of nature. Among his many examples were the large anthropomorphs at Bardal I. Shamanism has, however, been part of the mainstream interpretation of Northern rock art for almost a century. Gjessing (1936), who was inspired by the anthropological studies by Mallery (1893) of the visual culture of native North Americans, claimed that most Northern rock art was shamanistic in origin. Another inspiration for Gjessing’s interpretation was the still active shamans in Siberia. The earlier, ‘naturalistic’, images, he believed, were made by the hunters themselves, while the later ones were made by shamans on their behalf (Gjessing 1936, 154). Like Shetelig (1922, 130), Gjessing (1945, 287-89) saw a possible origin for these later shaman-made images in Siberia. Gjessing, however, focused on the role shamans played in preparations for hunting expeditions; hence, his focus on hunting magic. He further emphasised that the Northern Scandinavian rock art could not be explained other than from a shamanic point of view (Gjessing 1945, 312).

It was important for post-Medieval Christian missionaries in Norway and Sweden to destroy these drums, which were seen as being of utmost importance for the shamans while practising their pagan religion. Some Sami drums do, however, still exist, on which we find images and symbols, and animals in particular, similar to those present in Northern rock art (Manker 1965, Helskog 2012a). A drawing of the decoration on one of these drums, which has been kept in the antiquity collection of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters (now NTNU University Museum) since the late eighteenth century (T. Petersen 1931b), is shown as Figure 90. On this drum, we find the sun symbol in the

The recent international debate about shamanism and rock art is based on the works of western anthropological


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway woman. The phallus of the Lånke image (C) demonstrates that this is a man. What separates it from the other large anthropomorphs is the line crossing the neck and a head apparently shaped like a bird’s head, which may represent a mask of some kind. Thus this image might be depicting a shape-shifting shaman. A smaller anthropomorph at Hammer V has a mouth resembling a bird’s beak (Bakka 1988). Th. Petersen (1914, 39) suggested that a ‘horned’ anthropomorph painted in the inner part of Solsem cave, Nord-Trøndelag, belonged to the supernatural sphere. Gjessing (1936, 156) used this as an argument in favour of his hunting magic hypothesis, seeing shamanism, in this case shamans making rock art on behalf of the group, as marking the final stage of the development of Stone Age hunting magic in this region. However, the conical top of the head of this anthropomorph may simply be a hair bun. Later, a painted anthropomorph with two ‘horns’ was found in Helvete cave, Nordland (Bjerck 1995). However, as stated above, I do not believe that the cave paintings known from Nord-Trøndelag and Nordland are part of the Northern rock art tradition, but were made later, during the Bronze Age (Sognnes 2009). The situation may be similar for a horned anthropomorph at Nerhol I (Figure 91A). The ‘horns’ on the head of this image may be compared with horned bronze helmets from the Bronze Age found at Viksø in Denmark (Broholm 1965). The Nerhol anthropomorph holds a long staff in one hand and in the other an object that might be identified as a drum; the image may therefore be depicting a shaman.

Figure 90. Decoration on a Southern Sami drum at the NTNU Museum in Trondheim (after T. Petersen 1931b).

centre, many animals and also two-horned anthropomorphs holding staff-like objects in both hands (see above).

Another possible shaman occurs as an open-air painted image at Honnhammar VIII (Figure 91B). It has many of the characteristics of the Nerhol image. Two horns protrude from the head and the person appears to be holding a long staff in one hand and some kind of curved object in the other. Like at Nerhol, this may be a drum, which, however, would have been mounted on a shaft like the object seemingly held by the anthropomorph at Skavberg in Troms (Figure 27). A rubbing made by Stölting (1991), however, shows no direct connection between the anthropomorph and the drum-like object, yet the constellation of these two images together still may depict a shaman and his drum. Shirokorogoff (1935, 290) stated that staffs were part of the paraphernalia for dealing with the upper world, used by the Tungus shamans when they were travelling.

Anthropomorphic rock images were extremely rare in the Northern rock art in Norway until the Alta carvings were discovered in the 1970s, and they are still rare in other parts of Norway. The situation is similar in northern Sweden, except at the large Nämforsen site. Yet, Fandén (2002) argued in favour of shamanism for the rock art in this region on a general level. Lahelma (2008), likewise, interpreted the rock paintings in Finland in a shamanistic framework. Twenty-six Northern tradition anthropomorphs are known from central Norway, the larger ones being about 1.5 m tall. This small number of anthropomorphs may be because humans (including shamans) were present in the flesh at the rock art sites. A small group of large images (some shown in Figure 27) are of special interest here. These are found at Bardal, Bøla and Lånke. The larger Bardal image (B) provides no clue for answering this question as it shows a slender, headless male with a phallus. On the rock next to this man are two smaller humans apparently having sexual intercourse (Gjessing 1936, 136), which actually might represent a homosexual act (Nash 2001).

We find postures similar to those of the Nerhol and Honnhammar ‘shamans’ among the rock carvings at Nämforsen (Hallström 1960) and Alta (Helskog 1988, 2012a). At these sites, the persons in question are holding a staff in both hands, the end of which may be shaped like an elk’s head. These images, then, are more similar to the supreme beings on Sami drums. Gjerde (2010, 122130) searched for evidence in the ethnography of the circumpolar area of shamanism in Northern Scandinavian rock art, partly based on carvings depicting humans with

The Bøla skier (A) has no erect penis, but also no breasts, indicating that we may not after all be dealing with a


Multiple Worlds

Figure 91. Possible paintings of shamans from (A) Nerhol I in Oppdal and (B) from Honnhammar VIII in Tingvoll (author’s drawings).

possible paraphernalia (necklaces), people carrying staffs and elk-head staffs, associations between people and animals, and a human possibly carrying a drum.

in Europe (Helvenston and Bahn 2002, 51). Bednarik (2013, 38, referring to Helvenston 2013) further questions the foundation of these direct identifications of ancient images based on the idea that the human brain has not changed since the Palaeolithic, reminding us that virtually all rock art was made by non-literate people who most probably did not have the mind of modern people.

No existing Sami drums are shafted, but in 1732 the Italian scholar Filippo Bonanni presented a drawing (Figure 92) of a Sami shaman holding a shafted drum (Bonanni 1962). This does not prove that Sami drums like this actually existed, but the fact that no such drums exist today cannot be used as an argument against their previous existence, since all existing drums are from recent centuries (Manker 1965) and the representativeness of these drums, which are made of organic materials, is questionable in a long-term perspective. In favour of the existence of shafted shaman drums, it should be noted that at least one Sami drum had arrived in Italy at that time (Pentikäinen 1998) and Bonanni’s drawing may have been based on a real drum.

While Gjessing focused on the role shamans played in preparing for hunting expeditions, these later authors focus on images experienced during a trance. Such visions and travels, however, represent only part of the shaman’s life and obligations, and there may be no conflict between hunting magic and trance experiences; they were both part of shaman life. It is claimed that these visions represent three stages, the first stage being represented by geometric patterns: zigzags, parallel lines, crossing lines (grids), dots, etc. During the second stage, these patterns are transformed into images of objects, for instance zigzags into snakes. During the third stage, you pass through a tunnel, from which you enter a bizarre world of hallucinations where humans and animals might merge (Clottes and Lewis-Williams 1996, 14-17).

In recent decades, shamanism has entered the international rock art debate in a new way, focusing on a number of geometric designs that occur all over the world and therefore must be created in the human brain rather than being depictions of natural phenomena. These images are referred to as phosphenes or entoptics.

Searching for possible phosphenes and entoptics among rock images is seen as a possible way of identifying shamanism among prehistoric societies. Based on comparisons between entoptics, San rock art from southern Africa, Coso Range rock art from California and Palaeolithic mobiliary and cave art in southwestern Europe presented by Lewis-Williams and Dowson (1988), Grønnesby (1998a) found similar motifs in the rock art of central Norway, all of which were from the first of the three stages. However, supplementary evidence should be sought before we conclude that these rock art traditions actually were ‘shamanistic’.

This interpretative model is founded on Lewis-Williams’ (1981) study of San rock art in southern Africa, which was interpreted in the light of written sources from the late nineteenth century regarding the San’s practising of ecstasy and trance. This model has later been applied to the Palaeolithic cave art of Europe (e.g. Clottes and Lewis-Williams 1996). Frequently, different kinds of drugs were used to enter the trance, like the peyote among native people in southern Texas (Boyd 1998), but many others are known, too (e.g. Polia 1991; Pearson 2002; Diaz 2005), most of which, however, do not grow


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway (Honnhammar II). The fact that these possible shamanistic images are painted may be of significance; is it more probable that paintings rather than carvings represent shamanism? This was a basic idea behind Myrholt’s (2008) study of the rock paintings on the Fosen peninsula. The line patterns inside the trunk of many zoomorphs may be looked into from the perspective of the threestage model. However, as demonstrated in chapter 4, most of these lines reflect standardised ways of constructing the carvings in question. This holds true even for the smaller and flimsier images at Hell. The image presented as Figure 88 may also represent stage two in the three-stage model. Zigzags and vertical lines of different lengths dominate, but we can identify lines marking the outline of the trunk, the back line of the hind leg, and an ear or antler. The longer, vertical lines probably represent the legs. The many small cervids found at Holte I may also be brought into this discussion. The central part of this panel is shown in Figure 93. These carvings are among the most ‘schematic’ rock images in central Norway, forming a confusing cluster of lines, among which can be identified complete as well as incomplete animals. The technique used for drawing most of these images follows a simple basic pattern, the initial body segment being a horizontal line marking the animal’s back, often combined with a curved end marking the neck and head. Two or four vertical lines marking the legs were added to this horizontal line. Curved segments marking the trunk below and frequently a hump above the horizontal line were also added to these basic lines. Sometimes, too few or too many legs were drawn, but it is the lines and dots that fill the trunk, together with line patterns in between the animals, that make these images possible candidates for representing ‘distorted’ shamanic trance visions of elk and reindeer (or perhaps ribs, see above). It is only this panel (Holte I), together with Bardal III, that might be interpreted in this way. Whitley (2005, 115-117) emphasised that identifying entoptic images alone is not enough to identify a rock art tradition as being shamanic. Other shamanism-related motifs should also be present: death/killing, fighting/aggression, magical flight, drowning/swimming, sexual arousal/release and bodily transformation (Whitley 2005, 115-117).

Figure 92. Sami shaman with drum drawn by Fillippo Bonanni in the early eighteenth century (after Bonanni 1964).

In general, the Northern rock art in central Norway contains few images that may represent the three trance stages described by Lewis-Williams and his followers. Most geometric designs are found at a few sites only, above all at Bardal, but also at Rødsand, Søbstad, Strand, Holte and Berg. These images belong to the first stage in the trance model. At Berg, part of an elk’s leg is integrated in a framed geometric pattern. The leg clearly was drawn before the rest of this pattern. Some small rhomboids are found at Hell and By. Pearson (2002, 134) noted that sexual intercourse is known as a metaphor for shamans entering the supernatural world, and that rock art sites are known to reflect a strong sexual symbolism. Images resembling vulvas often express this metaphor, indicating that the rock itself may symbolise the vulva. When the shaman enters the spiritual realm through a portal, this may be interpreted as a ritual intercourse with the rock seen as a metaphorical vulva (Whitley 1996, 24-25). With the possible exception of Bardal I, images showing intercourse are not known in the Northern rock art of central Norway.

The shamanic trance model has been strongly criticised. Above all, Helvenston and Bahn (2002; 2005) claimed that it is based on outdated neuro-psychological research. As I see it, the trance model ignores the vast majority of motifs and images in Northern rock art, at least in central Norway. Nor does it provide a satisfactory explanation for why entoptics/phosphenes, whether geometrics, anthropomorphs, trance scenes or shamans were painted or carved on the rocks.

With its possible mask, the Lånke anthropomorph (Figure 27C) would be the most likely depiction of a shaman. Some possible vulvas are illustrated in Figure 28. The two painted examples (B and C) are the ones that most probably represent vulvas. Interestingly, both are found at Honnhammaren, C on the same cliff as the possible shaman in Figure 91B but on a higher panel

Most comparisons between Northern rock art and anthropological records documenting existing shamanism deal with tribes living in inland regions, which to a


Multiple Worlds

Figure 93. Shamanistic trance visions of cervids (?) at Holte I in Levanger, Nord-Trøndelag (author’s photo; paint added in the early 1970s).

large extent exploit reindeer or elk (e.g. Martynov 1991; Pentikäinen 1998). However, the Northern rock art in northern Scandinavia and Russian Karelia also shows a maritime affinity as evidenced by the many boat images. Boat images are, however, found in inland Siberia, too (Martynov 1991). Martynov suggested that these northern boat images were associated with ‘ancient concepts of souls floating towards the ancestral origins, the world beyond, following the setting sun’ (Martynov 1991, 37). However, the boats in central Norway in particular apparently relate to marine resources. There are relatively few boats in this area, but this is compensated for by other maritime motifs: whales, fish, porpoises and aquatic birds.

To some extent, we find a similar pattern in the Northern rock art of central Norway with its major division between terrestrial and marine motifs (elk, reindeer and red deer versus whales, fish and birds). Following this way of thinking, we may claim that sites where terrestrial and marine animals occur together were sites where the shamans intervened to cure illness and affliction caused by the sin of mixing products from land and sea. The lengthy time gap between the making of Northern rock art in central Norway and existing data from Sami religion and traditions is a methodological problem, too. Even though the gap is shorter, this is the case for the Norse religion as well. In a long temporal perspective, Sami reindeer herding is considered to be a relatively late phenomenon (Hansen and Olsen 2004), which may have led to significant changes in traditional lifestyle, perhaps affecting mythology, visual culture, as well as shamanic practices. However, some Sami groups continued to live as foragers, especially along the coast. The culture and history of these groups (the ‘Sea Sami’) have not been studied as thoroughly as for the reindeer herding Sami.

The use of models based on studies of Siberian inland tribes is thus questionable. Rather, we should search for models taken from societies that based their subsistence and life on a mixture of terrestrial and maritime resources. This we find in traditional Inuit ways of living. Referring to Rasmussen’s (1929) studies of the Iglulic Inuits in northeastern Canada, Lewis (2003, 147), emphasised the division between summer and winter activities, and that the produce of the land and the sea should be kept separate. Special precautions were necessary before these products could be brought together. Seals caught in winter had to be isolated from caribou, which were hunted in summer. The taboo system of the Iglulic revolved around a seasonal axis of different hunting and fishing patterns.

Günther (2009) was critical of the way Swedish archaeologists have used shamanism in their interpretations of rock art, claiming that the many zoomorphic images today no longer play any role at all in the interpretations. This may be a reaction against earlier research that is considered to be functionalistic, deterministic and naïve. Economic and ecological factors


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway no longer play any significant role and dichotomies are created between religion and subsistence, between culture and nature, and between humans and animals. She further claimed that ancient rock art sites and artefacts are treated selectively so as to fit into ritual or shamanistic interpretations, which turn rock art sites into esoteric separate rooms for shamans only. The sacred and mundane are separated into different spheres, the sacred sphere being dealt with only by specialists.

eighteenth century, herds of deer were still hunted using ancient practices; local farmers chased them off cliffs and precipices, and the animals ended up dead or seriously wounded below. This was seen as representing ‘a Stone Age hunting technique being practised in the late seventeenth century’ (Brøgger 1925, 78). It should, however, be noted that the hunt described by Brøgger did not take place near Vingen, but on the Stad peninsula (Krogh 1813) on the other (north) side of Nordfjord, where no rock art is known.

Traces of shamanism may be present in Northern rock art in the area being investigated, but these traces are few and fragmentary. First and foremost, we may find evidence of shamanism among images depicting anthropomorphs, but these images are rare. Most anthropomorphs do not indicate that they depict shamans. A stated above, the Lånke image may depict a man with a mask, but otherwise the carved anthropomorphs show no paraphernalia corresponding to those found, for instance, in Siberian rock art (e.g. Devlet 2001; 2004). The small paintings at Nerhol I and Honnhammar VIII may thus be the only depictions of shamans in central Norway. We lack reliable dates for both these images.

Brøgger did not use the word ‘magic’, but saw the meaning of these carvings as a ‘prayer’ to extra-human powers. Clearly, their location, steep cliffs near the trails of migrating herds of deer, would be of prime importance. Based on experience over many generations, the hunters knew the behaviour of the animals. Drawing deer images on rocks for magical purposes in areas without migrating animals would have little meaning. Furthermore, we may ask why rock carvings were made only at these particular places, why not at other places which the animals passed regularly. Shetelig (1922, 145), who discussed the Northern rock art in general, saw it as an expression of a kind of ‘primitive magic’ used by Stone Age people, whose subsistence primarily was based on hunting. There was no doubt that Gjessing (1936, 138; 1945, 298) saw hunting magic as the only possible interpretation for this art.

Some images may be interpreted as representing trance visions, but these images, too, are rare and occur mostly on sites scattered along the coast, at Rødsand, Strand and Vistnesdalen. The main exception is the complex Bardal I panel where, however, macroscopic studies of weathering indicate that these images may be late. This does not mean that shamans did not exist or that trance was not practised, but trance visions may not be among the images regarded as appropriate for carvings or paintings on rocks. We cannot use the non-presence of ‘shamanic’ images as arguments for shamans not making rock art.

For decades, this interpretation was scarcely debated, yet Hagen (1976, 178) expressed his dissatisfaction with the focus on hunting magic alone, claiming that the places where the rock art was located should be looked into as well. Farbregd (1980, 43-44) did this, emphasising that many Northern sites were located at sounds at which elk and reindeer following migrating routes would swim across and therefore be easier prey for hunters. Accordingly, he rejected the idea that the rock art was made to lure the animals towards the hunters; he found it more likely that the images were made on the rocks as signals for future hunts, being located at places where the animals in question could be expected to be present. Farbregd claimed that most of these sites contained information about important hunting sites.

Northern rock art may have been shamanistic, at least in part, but still, a major question remains to be answered: why did shamans carve or paint their visions during altered states of consciousness on rocks? These occasions must have been extremely rare compared with the many times a shaman had such visions. Again, the place must have been important, too. Do images and symbols on the rocks mark special openings or channels from our world to one or more other worlds? By marking the rocks in this way, the presence of these channels would be made visible and permanently known.

Hunting Gjessing (1932, 57) correctly noted that this interpretation is hardly relevant for many sites due to topographical differences and the motifs depicted. We may thus question whether rock art was located directly at killing sites or in a more general way marked good hunting grounds. Yet, the salmon at Honnhammaren and the flounders at Selset may mark important fishing sites, and Stykket may mark the headland where elk started swimming across Trondheimsfjord in two directions; the fjord at this point changes its main direction. Close to the Søbstad site with its whale images, a shallow sound existed until the Early Iron Age, the fjord gradually becoming shallower. When whales appeared in the sea outside, people in boats could chase them into the narrow

Hunting magic Hunting magic was the dominant interpretation of Northern rock art during the twentieth century. There were several reasons for this. First, it was in keeping with the contemporary interpretation of the Franco-Cantabrian cave art that focused on related motifs and was especially advocated by Reinach (1903; Shetelig 1922; Gjessing 1936). Another important argument in favour of this interpretation was the then recently discovered carvings at Vingen (K. Bing 1912; Bøe 1932; Lødøen and Mandt 2012). The western part of the Nordfjord district is known as an important area for migrating red deer. In the


Multiple Worlds inlet leading to this shallow water near the rock art, where they stranded. Most Northern rock art sites in the study area are located at Trondheimsfjord. The Fosen peninsula blocks direct contact between the North Atlantic and the inner parts of the fjord, the entrance to which is through a narrow gap at the southwestern end of this mostly south–north trending fjord. As pointed out above, a Figure 94. An incomplete whale hunting scene at Vasstrand in Åfjord is superimposed by small cluster of rock art sites a painted elk (compiled from Sognnes 1994b and Lindgaard 2011). is found on the coast at the mouth of Vefsnfjord in Farbregd (1980, 44-45) suggested that boats played an southern Nordland, but so far no rock art is known from important role in ancient elk hunting, the animals being the central or inner part of the fjord, or the Vefsn valley. killed while swimming across rivers and sounds. This is known from traditional reindeer hunting on the Hunting scenes are virtually absent in the Northern rock Hardangervidda mountain plateau in central southern art of central Norway. A possible seal hunt is depicted at Norway during the Early Iron Age (Blehr 1971, 2011). Rødøya, while remains of a whale hunt have recently In northern Sweden, however, elk frequently were been identified in the Sandhalsen rock shelter on trapped in pitfalls, some of which have been dated to the Vasstrand Farm (Figure 94). A 1 m long, carved boat and Neolithic and Late Mesolithic (Sjöstrand 2011, 58-60). a whale apparently confront each other. Two people Today, elk hunting takes place during the autumn. The carrying lances are standing on the boat. A fragmentary, above-mentioned Högberget site (Figure 80B) is of painted elk is superimposed on the carvings, and to the special interest in this discussion since a pitfall in front right is a shallow, anthropomorph-like carving. The of the large cliff at the foot of which we find painted possible celestial hunt at Bøla described above may also images and some conspicuous natural lines has been be interpreted as a mundane hunt. excavated and dated to the Stone Age (Sjöstrand 2011, 61). Red deer are abundant today in coastal areas southwest of Trondheimsfjord and this species seems to be depicted on The many pitfall systems found in northern Sweden rocks at Bogge, beside Romsdalsfjord. Elsewhere, the elk demonstrate that seasonal elk migrations are predictable, is the dominant cervid living in the study area today, and the animals following certain routes at certain times of is more abundant now than at any time before. This is the year, thus exposing themselves to hunters at actually the case for all of northern Scandinavia predictable times. Sjöstrand (2011, 86-92) discussed (Hammarström 2004) and is the result of modern forestry whether the use of pitfalls needed the active participation felling trees over large areas at the same time, thereby of people: whether the animals were chased towards the temporarily creating large spaces in the forest, where elk pitfalls or accidentally stumbled into them, where they thrive. were impaled by vertical stakes. The latter method seems to have been used in later times, as evidenced by written Today, Norway spruce dominates the forests of central sources. Pitfalls were used on the Hardangervidda Norway, but this species did not migrate into the region plateau, too. Individual households in the parish of until long after the Stone Age. In the Trondheimsfjord Eidfjord during the Medieval Period apparently used area, it reached the inner end of Lake Snåsa around 2000 small clusters of pitfalls on the northwestern part of the BP. At the same time, it crossed the watershed from plateau (Blehr 1972). Similar pitfalls are known from the Sweden to enter the valleys of Stjørdal and Verdal. Some Romsdal mountains, too (Strand 2004). 500 years later, it had spread to the lower parts of these valleys and about the same time reached the inner end of Today, Sami practise reindeer herding in most upland the Beitstadfjord basin. Around 1000 BP, at the end of areas in central Norway. It is not known when reindeer the Viking Period, spruce was growing in coastal areas, domestication became common in Scandinavia, but it was too (Hafsten 1985). The habitats for elk and reindeer probably during the Medieval Period (Mulk 1995; during the Late Mesolithic and Neolithic therefore cannot Andersen 1999). Reindeer, like elk, still follow ancient be directly compared with the situation today. In addition, migration trails between the mountains, where they stay early migration trails for elk have been disturbed by in summer, and Trondheimsfjord, towards which they modern developments. Yet, elk following ancient trails roam in winter. These trails have been disturbed by are observed daily, crossing fields as well as highways human activity during the last 5-6 millennia, but reindeer and railway lines. still reach Bøla in winter and come close to the mouth of


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway the Stjørdal valley, a few kilometres from the rock art sites at Lånke and Hell.

mouth of the River Ångerman. Most sites were, however, located inland and are dominated by cervids, which are claimed to be the earliest motifs. Maritime motifs are considered to be later, and Lindquist (1994, 118) associated this increase in motifs chosen with a transition from preferably elk and reindeer hunting to greater exploitation of the coast and maritime resources. The situation on the Norwegian coast is, however, different. From the arrival of the very first Early Mesolithic settlers until domesticated animals were introduced, people depended on what they could get from the sea: fish, seals, molluscs, birds and occasionally whales. In general, the maritime motifs in Norway, too, appear to be late. Osteological remains from these animals are lacking from most investigated dwelling sites, but this is the result of weathering processes rather than a general change in subsistence strategies.

Most fish images cannot be identified at the species level, but salmon can be recognised at Honnhammaren and Teksdal. These paintings may mark the entrances to important catchments where salmon spawn, but surprisingly the large Stjørdal, Orkla and Gaula rivers, which today are popular among anglers are seemingly not marked in this way. Nor are images depicting salmon found in outer Trondheimsfjord, which leads towards these and other rivers where salmon are now caught during their spring spawning migration. Cod and herring fisheries on the coast have been of great economic importance in modern times. The distribution of known dwelling sites demonstrates that coastal resources were exploited extensively during the Mesolithic and Neolithic, yet most rock art depicting marine animals is located at Trondheimsfjord. Pelagic cod and herring populations normally do not enter this fjord, although it has the highest natural fish production of Norwegian fjords (Mork 2000). Recent genetic investigations have shown that local populations of cod and herring exist in the fjord, yet these species seem not to have been depicted in rock art. Herring spawn in April and May and commercial fishing today takes place from July through to December. The plaice, which is the most common flounder species presently living in the fjord, is found in a narrow belt along the east side of the fjord, in the Borgenfjord inlet a few kilometres east of Skarnsundet, where the Selset site is situated. These plaice spawn in March and April.

Summing up this rather cursory presentation of the current presence of animals depicted in the rock art, we find that all animals represented still live in the study area. Excavations have shown that these species were caught and consumed by Stone Age people. Whales were possibly hunted in summer. Reindeer, elk and birds would regularly be present during their seasonal migrations. We might therefore not only see differences in the motif repertoire between terrestrial, marine and aquatic animals, but also between animals hunted during different seasons. It should be noted here that hunting magic has recently been brought back into the international rock art discourse both in North America (Keyser and Whitley 2006) and southern Africa (Thackery 2005). We may be witnessing a revitalisation of the hunting magic interpretation.

Porpoises and killer whales, sometimes even other species, are still present in Trondheimsfjord. Porpoises apparently are most frequently depicted in rock art. Other dolphin species occur erratically during summers with high water temperatures. Pelagic fish, preferably herring, are the main prey for these whales. Such fish occur in schools, so the number of whales present in the fjord to a large extent follows the presence of herring. Porpoises are less frequent in winter, probably due to lower temperatures in the surface water, and the inner fjord basins frequently freeze, perhaps causing the whales to be trapped under the ice (Heggberget 2000).

Magic Simonsen (1986, 207) argued in favour of hunting magic for Northern rock art. He discussed whether the panels were used only once or more, and also some other aspects. His conclusion was that ‘Stone Age people chose the place after some existing criteria, then they hewed and painted one or several new images, and finally they undertook the ritual itself’. Simonsen further argued that the images were made before the magic ceremonies took place and that the making of a new image was necessary before a new ceremony could begin, already existing images being a strong argument in favour of making new ones (Simonsen 1986, 204-205).

Most bird images appear to depict geese or ducks. Some geese species use the Trondheimsfjord area for resting during their long migrations in spring and autumn. Mallards and eider ducks are more stationary, eider ducks being most frequent in this area. These birds migrate along the fjord, some to the coast and some across the Scandinavian Peninsula to the Gulf of Bothnia. Most of these birds leave the inner parts of the fjord in winter when inlets and bays may freeze (Husby and Lorentsen 2000). In this perspective, it is interesting to note that when ‘Snåsafjord’ was turned into a lake around 4000 BP it became covered by ice in winter.

Magic may have played an important role for Stone Age foragers; images depicting many different species may have been drawn on the ground before and during hunting expeditions. However, numerous expeditions must have taken place without leaving traces for future generations to see. Hunting magic alone, therefore, cannot explain the making and presence of Northern rock art. The images on the rocks were meant to last far beyond a single hunting expedition. Just a few of the many places where animals were hunted, or fish, whales or birds were caught, were marked by rock art.

Some Northern rock art sites in Sweden were on the coast, including the large Nämforsen site, which is at the


Multiple Worlds Today, Scandinavian rock art specialists in general have lost interest in hunting magic as an interpretation. However, Westerdahl emphasised the importance of magic in his reflections on the near-shore location of Northern sites. While Gjessing saw Northern rock art as representing homoeopathic or imitative magic, Westerdahl (2005, 19) saw the images themselves as having magical power, representing contagious magic (Frazer 1996, 13). He argued that a dichotomy existed in maritime folklore between land and sea, defining the intertidal zone as a liminal agent representing a boundary that, however, can be crossed. This dichotomy described by Westerdahl may have existed already in prehistoric Scandinavia, and he identified traces of magic, ritual and supernatural powers in Northern rock art. During the Neolithic, traditional inland hunting was partially replaced by agricultural pursuits (Westerdahl 2005, 3034).

watch for the arrival of the animals. These meetings would take place near, but not necessarily at, the hunting sites, which may have varied from one year to the next. This model corresponds well with the theoretical territories suggested for the Helgeland area (Figure 82). The larger sites at Hammer, Bardal and Evenhus, where several motifs are present, may have been places where groups came together and performed communal rituals. Evenhus is located centrally in the Strindfjord basin, while Hammer and Bardal are on the northern shores of the Beitstadfjord basin. As demonstrated by its low altitude, Evenhus eventually had this function during the Late Neolithic and the transition to the Bronze Age. Based on the suggested style dates for the motifs present, Bardal would be the earlier one of the Beitstad sites coming into use already in the Mesolithic, and being replaced by Hammer in the Neolithic. Correspondingly, Bogge may have functioned as a meeting place for the Romsdal-Nordmøre area.

Westerdahl’s model is interesting, but I find it difficult to transfer it to Stone Age forager societies. As I see it, it needs adjustments before it can be applied to the study area, where rock art indicates strong emphasis on maritime hunting. Westerdahl refers to folklore that was collected from much later agrarian societies, where maritime activity was marginal. On the other hand, we should bear in mind the Inuit separation between summer and winter and sea and land hunting (see above).

Gjessing (1945, 298) emphasised that this hunting magic was associated with water, since most sites are located beside the sea or along rivers and lakes. He claimed (Gjessing 1945, 302) that these locations by water demonstrated that fertility magic played an important role in the magic system expressed by the Northern rock art and that this interpretation was supported by the coitus scene at Bardal I, and scenes at Vingen. Gjessing (1945, 304-308) further suggested that the internal line patterns found in many schematic, ‘late’ images symbolised the magic power, mana, inherent in the animals and that the magic power was transferred from these patterns carved or painted on the rocks to the animals. He argued that ideas about fertility played an important role in hunting magic, referring to Palaeolithic ‘Venus’ statuettes and relief carvings of women, and that similar symbolism was found in decoration on later ceramics.

The carving and painting of Northern tradition images on rocks must have taken place on rare occasions. Therefore, I find it most unlikely that these permanent images were made for the purpose of hunting magic alone unless ritual preparations before new hunting more or less regularly took place at the same sites, but in general without new images being made. Rather I would claim that the rock art should be interpreted in a wider societal perspective. Until the early twentieth century, Trondheimsfjord functioned as the main communication artery in the region, and the rock art may have been located at shrines along this route, being visited by generations of people during seasonal migrations. In a way, these sites would then represent encounters between the living and their ancestors. In principle, any place may be a focus for ancestral presence (Smith 1998, 98), but in these cases the ancestors themselves revealed their presence via imagery once made. The fact that hunting is hardly represented may be seen as an indicator that the rock art was not part of the mundane world.

Gjessing interpreted the three concentric rings inside the large boat at Evenhus V (Figure 69) as a sun symbol and thus that the sun was represented in the rock art of the northern hunter-gatherers. The primary goal of fertility magic in this art, he believed, was to help fill the forests and mountains with bears, elk and reindeer, and the sea with whales, seals, halibut and other fish; in brief, to increase the amount of game. This was, however, done through hunting: following the rhythm of life – from birth to death and from death to a new birth (Gjessing 1945, 308-309).

Animals depicted were mostly present in and around Trondheimsfjord during the spring and summer. Hunting and catching elk and whales would be most effective when people belonging to several small groups worked together led by experienced hunters familiar with animal migration patterns. Communal hunts would more probably guarantee successful results whether meat, blubber, sinews, hides, or bones for tool making were being sought. Catching salmon and waterfowl was a seasonal endeavour that took place when these creatures entered or passed the fjord basins. Hunters had to meet at the beginning of the hunting season, make plans and

Animism In a global perspective, it has been shown that topography frequently played an important role for the location of rock art. This is demonstrated most clearly in Australia where rock art sites are linked to Dreamtime myths and are foci for rites and ceremonies, and must be maintained (Flood 1997). In North America rock art is still part of the spiritual geography of the Pueblo and Navajo, tying Navajos and Zuñis to their mythical beginnings (Schaafsma 1985, 262). The landscape is therefore seen as


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway

Figure 95. Large, polished elk image at Vågan in Bodø, Nordland (author’s photo).

important for the interpretation of Hopi and Zuñi symbols (Cole 1990, 40).

which people could gather in awe, admiring the cliff and the large (mythical?) elk drawn on the rock.

At a general level, I have already presented sites located at different kinds of topographical features. Focusing on the panels, we soon find that these frequently differ from the surrounding rock face. At Hell, Gjessing (1936, 17) noticed that the images were on the only part of the upper Steinmohaugen hillock where the originally glacially polished surface was preserved. At Strand, the images were at the foot of a vertical cliff on a pocket of amphibolite, whereas the surrounding rock consists of yellowish granite (Vogt 1929). A striking example is found at Vågan in Bodø, Nordland, where the rock in general is classified as strongly weathered mica schist (Gustavson and Blystad 1995). On one steeply sloping panel, however, the rock face, consisting of a harder rock, is still well preserved (Sognnes 2012). On the upper part of this panel, the outline of a large ‘naturalistic’ elk is ground into the rock. Immediately below is a wide, white, quartz vein that resembles the lower part of an animal’s leg. The back leg of the carved elk starts immediately above this vein (Figure 95).

The peculiar, natural lines at the Åmnes and Högberget sites (chapter 7) should also be mentioned here. The Åmnes images are located in an area dominated by granitic gneisses, but the carved panels are on granite (Gustavson and Skauli 2003) that forms a series of parallel, low, sloping ridges, which differ significantly from the surrounding rock (Sognnes 2012). This outcrop can easily be seen from the cultivated land on the strandflat below. Bøla, in general, is considered to be a fjord site because Lake Snåsa formed the inner part of Trondheimsfjord when the carvings are thought to have been made. When we do this, we ignore the fact that Bøla I and II are located in the middle of a small waterfall on the River Bøla. Focusing on Bøla II, we find that above this panel the cascade splits into two narrow branches. When the water level rises, the panel becomes narrower and is ultimately entirely covered by water. At a certain water level, we may identify a large head or mask framed by the water. At the upper left corner, a bear’s ear can be identified, while cracks and depressions form some facial features, eyes, nose and mouth framed by cascades on both sides. The fragmented bear image is below the left side of the mouth.

This is a very good example of my claim above that other factors than height above sea level should be looked for as possible explanations of the location of Northern rock art. This steep cliff has stood out for millennia as being very different from virtually all other cliffs in the area. Furthermore, immediately below it is a small terrace on

Arguably, this may be a bear’s head, and we may actually be looking at the front of a giant bear that is looking back


Multiple Worlds at us. These traits, however, are best seen from some distance or on photographs (Figure 96. However, this is the situation today. The waterfall existed when the carvings were made, but we do not know whether the cracks in question existed then. The large Bardal I panel has been studied more thoroughly (Sognnes 2008). For this purpose, the interest lies in the pristine rock and the location of the very first carvings. The main part of the panel is around 20 m long and 10 m high. The rock face curves slightly backwards towards the upper edge as seen from the terrace in front of and below the panel. This adds a natural perspective to the experience of possible spectators (chapter 4). Near the left (southwest) edge, the panel ends abruptly in a vertical wall. The large ‘naturalistic’ elk images, which are believed to be the older ones, are situated close to this edge, not centrally on the panel, which for modern spectators seems to be the natural choice. Looking at the oval grooves mentioned above, we find that they have a deep central spot. At the same time, most of them are delineated by quartz veins, which enhance their oval shape. In the right light conditions, this shape is further enhanced. The veins stand out as brilliantly white lines, while the deeper part of the grooves lies in the dark. This happens every time the low sun shines on the rock before sunset. The two lines formed by these grooves meet near the left-hand edge of the panel, below the cluster of large elk images. We may postulate that these carvings were located near the western edge of the panel because the rock itself pointed out this location.

Figure 96. Face-like structures at Bøla (E. M. Skeie photo 2004).

Figure 97. Elk coming out of the rock (?) at Stykket, Rissa (after Sognnes 1981).

On some other panels, incomplete images are found which we may suspect have been deliberately left unfinished because the ‘missing’ parts of the animals were still inside the rock. This is the case at Stykket, where one (maybe two) large, incomplete ‘naturalistic’ carving is located on the best-preserved part of the rock (Figure 97). The panel is more than large enough to draw complete animals of this size. A large elk head with the neck and parts of the back line is carved on the upper part, while two legs indicating motion, which is extremely rare for this kind of image (Gjessing 1932), are on the lower part.

Lewis-Williams and Dowson (1990) described panels in southern Africa where images seemingly are coming out from cracks or groves in the rock face. In the examples mentioned here, the incomplete images do not emerge from cracks and one may claim that only the heads and/or front parts were drawn because there was not enough space for complete animals. At Heggvik, some vague rock paintings are found on a vertical panel that resembles a polished natural door through which one may enter the rock (Figure 98). This ‘gate’ roughly forms a square recess at the foot of the vertical cliff. Diagonally, it is divided into two parts, which gives the impression that the ‘gate’ is half open. The images are found on the left-hand part of the ‘gate’. The surrounding rock forms a narrow overhang, which forms a shallow rock shelter. In front of the panel is a narrow horizontal terrace from which the land falls abruptly to the sea. This terrace, which has space for a small group of spectators, may have been wider when the paintings were made, but has later been eroded by the sea.

These elk parts do not fit anatomically and therefore very probably represent two different animals, the rest of which might have been drawn in different ways leaving no other remains than the furrow visible today. The wellpreserved rock surface demonstrates, however, that the missing parts were not carved. An alternative interpretation is that the rest of these animals is hidden behind the membrane or veil formed by the rock face, the images perhaps depicting animals that were moving from one world to another, from the underworld inside the rock to the world of humans. A row of three incomplete elk images at Honnhammar II may represent animals coming out of the rock, too. The back part of these animals, if they were complete, would have been superimposed by the front of the next animal in the row.

These examples, together with the natural ‘images’ from Åmnes and Högberget and the vertical, wave-like panel at Søbstad, demonstrate that the shape of the surfaces and


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway

Figure 98. Door-like structure decorated with paintings at Heggvik in Bjugn (author’s photo).

structures on the rock face played significant roles for locating rock art. Here, Stone Age people met structures that belong to this world, but at the same time were apparently entrances to worlds inside the rocks, representing places where humans encountered powers beyond their own reach. We may here be getting glimpses of animism rather than shamanism.

represents concepts that are historical constructs belonging to specific cultures, in this case ideas and practices that have dominated Euro-American thinking from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. However, animism has recently been brought back into the international rock art discourse (e.g. Bradley 2000; Janik 2007; Dowson 2009), frequently being linked with totemism, but beliefs that spirits inhabit inanimate items are not restricted to shamanism (Janik 2007, 192). Referring to Bird-David, Janik discussed rock art sites at Lake Baikal in Siberia from an animistic perspective, focusing on the presence of images at selected geomorphological features. These locations make it possible for contemporary archaeologists to identify relationships between geomorphological features and prehistoric societies that would normally remain undetected (Janik 2007, 192).

Like totemism and magic, animism was introduced as a classificatory term in the history of religion in the late nineteenth century as part an evolutionary model (Tylor 1871). However, as stated above, it was magic that was adopted as an explanatory tool by Norwegian scholars (Shetelig 1922; Gjessing 1936). Animism was considered to be the most primitive religion, being the first stage in the development of religious beliefs based on the idea that every human being is animated by a soul. This principle was also used to explain the rest of the natural world. ‘Why should not plants and trees, the rivers, winds, and animals, even the stars and planets be moved by souls? Further, since souls are separable from the objects they animate, why may there not also be, behind the visible scene of nature, beings that even do not need to be connected to physical objects—why not spirits, pure and simple?’ (Pals 2006, 27).

Returning to central Norway, we find a landscape that is dominated by contrasts and at the same time a landscape that is continuously changing. Some of these changes occur daily, others seasonally. Some can be predicted while others occur erratically and unexpectedly. High and low tides follow each other regularly, but are also influenced by lunar cycles. During extreme high tides combined with stormy weather, shore-bound dwellings, people and moored boats may disappear into the sea. Boats and people are swallowed by waves within minutes. The amount of water in rivers and streams varies

Bird-David (2002, 75) said that animism is a difficult concept to use since it has not been subject to critical revision in recent ethnography. The concept implies a duality between body and soul, but this dualism


Multiple Worlds too; a gently flowing river may change into a raging, destructive mass of water in a few hours. Cliffs and rocks may disappear under thundering water, as described for the Bøla site. In winter, rivers and fjords may be transformed into frozen plains. Landslides may dam a valley for a short time or permanently. These are only a few examples demonstrating that nature is alive and that extra-human powers and potency exist and influence the lives of humans.

has it weaknesses, but this I find to be the case for the other interpretations, too. They all seem to give unreliable and insufficient pictures of the role Northern rock art played for Stone Age people within the study area. A second conclusion is that there seems to be some connections between these interpretations, most evident between shamanism and animism (e.g. Janik 2007; Dowson 2009). There is, however, a connection between shamanism and cosmology, too, as exemplified by the cosmology of the Sami. Even hunting magic and shamanism are connected, ensuring a successful hunt being one of the tasks of a shaman (Gjessing 1936). While discussing these interpretations, I found that the material being studied does not fit this compartmentalisation of early religions. I cannot put the Northern rock art of central Norway as such into any of these compartments. On the contrary, we may find elements from all these interpretations represented.

I find it difficult to claim that the Northern rock art in central Norway a priori is animistic, but it may be looked upon from an animistic perspective. As for shamanism, we might indirectly reach this conclusion, but in general the motifs per se do not indicate animism more than they favour magic or shamanism. It is first and foremost the location of the images that indicates that we may be dealing with an animistic worldview. In a rugged, mountainous country like Norway, the selection of surfaces for making rock art may be random and it was the making of images that made them special; by doing this, people created spiritual places. However, as demonstrated above, Northern rock art was frequently located on rocks that for one or more reasons stood out among many available outcrops and surfaces.

Possible cosmological images are rare. So far, no stellar compositions have been identified, unless some of the rare zigzags might be identified as depictions of the Northern Lights. Cup-marks, that could mark stars, are not present. Some of the rock art motifs in central Norway are represented on the decorated Sami drums, but these drums are dominated by motifs that may have later origins. Supreme beings and sun symbols that are frequent on these drums are not represented in the rock art, while the maritime motifs that play an important role in this rock art are missing on the drums. This is most probably due to the drums being used by reindeer-herding Sami who spent their lives in the interior of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Boats and fish were drawn on the drums, but they would represent the rivers, not the sea.

Fluctuations in the water level in lakes and rivers also appear to be important locational factors. At Bøla, this was only one of several relevant factors, but these unpredicted changes clearly paved the way for many different experiences of this site depending on the season and weather. On a smaller scale, the situation is similar at Glösa in Jämtland, while at Duved the visual presence of the carvings on the riverbank would be rare, as they are today. The incomplete carvings at Stykket apparently represent something different. The outcrop on which the images were carved to some extent stands out relative to other outcrops nearby, but here the ‘incomplete’ carvings are what catch our interest. A vertical crack exists to the right of these images, cutting through two superimposed elk. It is, however, the man-made carvings that make us suggest that something more and unknown is present in this rock.

There are few anthropomorphs, but some of these images might be identified as shamans. Likewise, some geometric images might be identified as entoptics and thus as possible evidence of shamans travelling into other worlds, but in general this rock art cannot be seen as evidence for entoptic visions during altered states of consciousness.

To this, we should add changes created by different light conditions. Images that are hardly visible during overcast weather may become more visible when the rock face is wet. The most spectacular experiences we may get are when the sun emerges from a cloudy sky and the rays fall parallel with the rock face, animating the rock within seconds. Conclusions

The zoomorphic rock carvings are too few to have been made in connection with the many hunting expeditions that took place during the long period these carvings apparently were made. However, shamans may have visited specially selected places while preparing for new expeditions in front of ancient images. This could take place near well-known elk migration trails or fishing sites. Likewise, very few images can be directly interpreted as representing animism.

I have here looked upon the Northern rock art in central Norway from several interpretative perspectives: cosmology, magic, shamanism, animism and mortuary rituals. Each of these perspectives forms the background for proposed interpretations of rock art in general, but also for Northern rock art. For the latter, hunting magic has dominated until recently. This interpretation clearly

We are here facing a core problem in our attempts to interpret Northern rock art at this level. Starting with images and motifs, we soon enter an impasse. Interpretations presented are based on a general framework created in the disciplines of history of religion or anthropology. Per se this is not wrong, but in this case it seems impossible to bridge the gap between


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway data and theory, between the lower and upper levels of inter-pretations. Furthermore, we tend to see the proposed interpretation as representing competing ontologies.

scenic representations of hunting, with the exception of the carvings in the Sandhalsen rock shelter at Vasstrand. This does not, however, mean that I see shamanism or hunting magic to be without interest, but I find it difficult to claim any of the other proposed interpretations to be more relevant. The problem with these interpretations seems to be that they are too general, at the same time focusing on a small sector of images within a wide range of possible interpretations. Our current models seem to lack several dimensions: the roles played by sites and panels as well as encounters between humans, between humans and animals, and between humans and the inanimate world.

The recent emphasis on shamanism is based on visions shamans may experience during altered states of consciousness. This makes rock art an expression of the shamans’ personal experiences. Shamans drawing their visions on rocks seem introvert, the images being of interest for shamans only. Hunting magic to a larger degree expresses the societal roles shamans might have played during the Late Mesolithic and Neolithic. For the central Norwegian record we do, however, miss clear



Summing up

studies have been and still remain a small archaeological sub-discipline.

The major focus here has been on images and classification, since reclassification was long overdue. After all, the images, carvings and paintings, are the reason people study this particular aspect of prehistory. In my opinion, the styles ‘described’ previously have proved inadequate (Sognnes 2010) and a revised assessment of motifs and images has been needed for a long time.

I have studied the images as drawings, which I see as being necessary to rethink how they can be sorted and classified. It is no longer acceptable to look at the corpus as a mass of carvings and paintings that loosely give an impression of being either ‘naturalistic’ or ‘schematic’, or something in between. In searching for a new way of perceiving the images, I started by deconstructing the cervids, which form the major class of images and at the same time are the most difficult to draw. I found that most images were drawn as a set of individual body parts, some of which were partly superimposed on each other. Most frequently, the front leg was drawn afterwards and was superimposed on the trunk. By doing this, we can identify probable drawing sequences for each image, which may then be reconstructed.

The range of motifs in central Norway sets this record apart from Northern rock art further south. Cervids dominate, but the numbers of terrestrial and maritime motifs, including birds, are about equal. In southern Norway, very few maritime images are present. In northern Norway, we find the same range of motifs, but the relative numbers of each motif present appear to differ. The large sites in Alta are unique due to the large number of carvings, in particular boats and anthropomorphs, but also because of their many scenes and compositions (Helskog 2010; 2012). We find a corresponding situation in northern Sweden, where the large Nämforsen site stands out among many small sites (Hallström 1960; Lindgren 2004).

So far, I have not studied the panels or sites from this perspective. Thus, I do not yet know whether the different drawing sequences represent different phases or periods, different social entities, or different artists. Each drawing sequence is found at several sites and, I would claim, individual ‘styles’ can be identified at this level. Different drawing sequences are represented at the larger sites, while one particular way of drawing the images may be identified on some smaller panels. I hope to return to this question on a later occasion.

During the years I have studied Northern rock art, my way of thinking about this art has changed considerably; it started changing when I left the ‘style’ concept behind and began deconstructing individual images. My understanding changed further when I started seeing rock art sites as places for encounters between people, rocks, animals and different worlds. Conclusions and reflections presented here are strongly influenced by these two changes in attitude towards the record.

Leaving the individual images aside, I have emphasised the location of panels and sites within different landscape contexts, from the rock face to its location relative to larger topographical structures. This latter level clearly is important for interpreting the art, since the rock art shows no tendency for a random distribution. This holds true for both Scandinavian rock art traditions. In central Norway, a major concentration is found at Trondheimsfjord, a smaller one at Romsdalsfjord, and a concentration of sites with rock paintings on the Fosen peninsula, but in most of this region no rock art appears to exist. Concentrations like the ones in Vingen, Alta and at Nämforsen have so far not been identified and most likely do not exist, which means that aspects of the interpretations presented for these large sites may not be relevant for this region; this holds true for the locations as well as the number of images.

I have focused primarily on methodological questions and less on theory, the work being based on the source material and how this has been sorted and classified, and to a minor degree on how it has been documented. I have also looked into how this rock art has been studied, how archaeologists (who in Norway are virtually alone in focusing on this particular record) deal with it. Classification has always been central in Norwegian archaeology; however, in retrospect, the quality of the work done at this level during most of the twentieth century may be questioned. This holds true also for rock art studies. Many people have participated in the rock art discourse, but mostly by publishing a newly discovered panel or site. The rock art is included in all overviews of the prehistory of Norway, yet rock art

There are great variations in the locations and the number of images. The main motifs are, in general, the same,


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway predominantly cervids. The variation in motifs in central Norway, however, is not like that at the three large sites mentioned above. Most people living in Scandinavia apparently had no need to make rock art. It might be made if a rock face was close to the shore or had a special composition or structure, and it could also be made for social reasons, depending on how the societies were organised. Thus, we may claim that there was no single reason why Northern rock art was made in Scandinavia during the Stone Age.

In an earlier work (Sognnes 2001), I claimed that Norwegian archaeology, including rock art studies, was ruled by a number of constraints that I saw as tyrants. We primarily met these tyrants at the lower level of study, when focusing on the data, images and sites, classification and dating. Helskog (2010) identified a tyrant of images. However, we face corresponding constraints at the interpretation level, too. We tend to think within frameworks based on current thinking in archaeology and anthropology, which may be summed up as the tyranny of presentism.

I still claim that a major reason for making Northern rock art in Scandinavia was a need to mark boundaries, many sites being located in the subsequent border zone between Sami and Scandinavians (Norwegians and Swedes), that is roughly between Trondheimsfjord and Nämforsen, and along the Norwegian coast further north. Nämforsen and Vingen may have been important meeting places seen in a north-south perspective, one on each side of the Scandinavian Peninsula, and Alta in an east-west perspective. At the same time, these three sites differ in both motifs and ‘styles’. The Trondheimsfjord concentration contains fewer images and has a relatively strong emphasis on marine animals at sites spread over a wide area. The main motifs are the same in all these four concentrations, but I find it difficult to interpret them all within the same framework.

In our list of archaeological and rock art tyrants we may include virtually the entire framework within which rock art studies are conducted, a disciplinary framework of constraints that is difficult to break out of. The basic problem is, of course, the representativeness of the record that is available; we base our studies on a small fragment of the material culture and, in this case, the visual culture that once existed. During our work, we also tend to focus on fragments of the existing record, for instance on the larger sites. The record Helskog has been studying is much more suitable for studying the contexts of the images than what seems possible for smaller sites. While compositions and scenes are relatively frequent at the larger concentrations, the smaller and more scattered sites along the Norwegian coast and in interior northern Sweden in general appear to consist of individually drawn images, which should encourage more thorough studies of the images per se. This has been done, but mostly on a regional scale and, unfortunately, on a rather superficial level. The constraints formed by images, classification, dating, etc., are still there and may be experienced as tyrants, but this tyranny is not created by the record but by the works of previous scholars that laid the paths that were so willingly followed by later generations of researchers. Studying the Northern rock art from the perspectives of compositions, scenes, sites, etc. is important, but so are studies at the image level, which is demonstrated by the great variety of images found within this study area (chapter 4).

With the exception of the rock art in Alta, most recent studies of Northern rock art in Norway have been based on assumptions made by scholars working primarily in the 1930s. These assumptions were for decades considered to be facts, but were in reality factoids. While some new models of interpretations have been discussed, the basic way of seeing the record as divided into a limited number of ‘styles’ has remained the same. New interpretations are seldom proposed or they are based on minor parts of the record that are claimed to support the interpretations presented, for example in searching for possible entoptics or phosphenes that might indicate the existence of shamans represented by their visions carved or painted on rocks (e.g. Grønnesby 1998; Fuglestvedt 2008).

Today, I see chronology as the main constraint or tyrant in Scandinavian rock art studies, not the quest to date this art but rather the periodisation that was established more than a century ago based on the Southern Scandinavian record. Radiometric dating may enable the Northern Scandinavian material culture to be linked to this sequence, but I am more concerned with the relationship between material and visual culture, the latter being represented by the rock art. The distinction between the Late Mesolithic and the Neolithic, and between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age for that matter, appears to have no relevance for the Northern rock art tradition. This tradition in central Norway appears to have started in the Mesolithic and ended in the Early Bronze Age. For studying this art, these periods function as black boxes without significance. Here, I agree with Brøgger (1925) in his scepticism of periodisation.

The main reason why Norwegian rock art research has evolved this slowly is, paradoxically, its long history. It was established in the 1870s by the brothers Oluf and Karl Rygh (with roots back to the 1820s) followed by intense activity in the 1930s, when a paradigm was created that until recently held a strong grip on later studies. The basic work was done and the record grew slowly; new discoveries were presented, but few researchers actively studied the rock art per se. (There were few archaeologists in Norway at that time.) The situation was similar in Sweden, where Hallström carried out extensive fieldwork between around 1907 and 1930, the Swedish record being published as late as 1960. Rock art studies were seen as an archaeological speciality of little interest to archaeologists in general. Hardly anyone from other disciplines took part in the discourse.


Conclusions Looking at the Northern tradition rock art in a larger perspective, we find both similarities and differences. To a large degree, the motifs are the same, but they are drawn in many different ways. Their relative frequency varies, too. This may lead to different strategies of study and, hence, to apparently different results. To some extent, these differences are regional; the rock art in central Norway is not the same as that in Alta or Nämforsen, for instance. When we start with an overregional perspective, we would normally seek similarities; what the different rock art regions may have in common.

study area. This question can be answered easily. Analyses of bones found during excavations of Stone Age dwelling sites show that only a few of the many animal species consumed were depicted in rock art. At this level, the sample clearly is not representative. Hitherto unknown Northern sites probably still exist. The number of sites known has increased by 160 per cent since the mid-1930s. Thirty years earlier, only four sites were known: Bogge, Bardal, Bøla and Hell. The sample available at that time was not only small it was also skewed relative to the sample that exists today as regards both motifs and ‘styles’. In 1900, only cervids were known; the birds at Bardal had not yet been found. The first birds were identified a decade later at Hammer (K. Rygh 1909). At about the same time, fish were identified at Honnhammaren (Hallström 1909a). The first boats were identified in 1917 at Evenhus, which for half a century was the dominant Northern site with boat images in Norway and played an important role in early studies of the history of boat building in Norway (e.g. Brøgger and Shetelig 1950).

When I started analysing and deconstructing individual images, I found significant differences that earlier generations of scholars seem to have been unaware of. I began with these individual images and worked my way from there via landscapes and locations to more general questions and interpretations. However, whether we focus on similarities based on overall patterns or on differences based on local studies, I would claim that in many studies there is a focus on presence, on places where humans meet and/or are exposed to extra-human natural forces, for instance on seashores, beside rivers and at special geological features, etc.

Today, new discoveries seldom reveal new motifs. Thus, we may feel confident that we know the basic motifs in the Northern rock art of central Norway, but the relative numbers of these motifs have changed considerably, which is clearly demonstrated by the birds. The large concentration of bird images at Hammer was unknown until the late-1970s and the Horjem images until the 1990s. These two sites have radically changed our perception of the bird motifs. Painted geometric motifs are an exception to this rule, as demonstrated by the recent discoveries at Honnhammaren (Sognnes 1995a; Linge 2014). So far, no painted bird images are known and only one whale image. The relative number of boat images, however, is now much lower than it was 30 years ago.

However, the ways these meetings were exposed in rock art differ significantly, for instance between the Altafjord and Trondheimsfjord areas. Thus, from my starting point, I cannot search for a common reason why rock art was made in Stone Age northeastern Europe. Furthermore, if there was only one reason, this should explain why rock art was not made in most of this vast area. Nor can I see how one reason for making rock art can explain the great variations in the number of images made at each site or the great variation in how these images were drawn. Representativeness Around 700 individual Northern rock images (carvings and paintings) are today known in central Norway, very few of which have been found by specialists during systematic surveys. When we are looking into the question of representativeness, we therefore face two major problems. Is the available sample representative for the record that exists today, and is it representative for the record that once existed? The first relates to search strategies, the second to weathering processes. We may suggest and argue that many more sites and images once existed, but it is impossible to verify this hypothesis and to quantify the number of sites, panels and images that are now lost. We will never know the total number of images that once existed and thus we cannot estimate the statistical significance of the sample available for study at any one time. However, this sample has increased considerably during the century Northern rock art has been known and studied.

The general ways these ‘new’ images are drawn was known from before, but the Holte carvings came as a great surprise in the early 1960s (Møllenhus 1968b). Two quadrupeds at Honnhammar V (Sognnes 1995a) are in many ways unique, partly in the way the trunks are drawn but also in how the front legs are linked to the head. The discovery of these images also led to the recognition of this particular detail in some quadrupeds at Bogge I (Figure 39). Across the border from Trondheimsfjord, we find a different distribution pattern in northern Sweden, where many new discoveries have been made in recent decades (e.g. Viklund 1999; 2002; Lindgren 2004). Most sites are located close to lakes and rivers, the westernmost only a few kilometres from the border to Norway. Except for the Nerhol and Finnli sites, no rock art is known from lakes and rivers above the Late Glacial marine limit on the Norwegian side of the watershed. This may be coincidence; the terrain west of the border is more rugged and people walk there in different ways from in the more gentle landscape in Sweden.

A different question of representativeness is whether the zoomorphic motifs are representative for the species caught and consumed by Stone Age people living in the


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway In addition, we may question the representativeness of the images I analysed in chapter 4. For most sites, however, the existing images are fairly well preserved and for each site it was possible to select images that represent most of the different ways the images were drawn in spite of the low number (5) of images that were deconstructed at each site. I started with 10 images, but the smaller sites were then excluded. In sum, it is my conclusion that the total number of images analysed forms a representative sample of what is known today. The only exception to this is Bardal, where most of the smaller animals at Bardal I are now so fragmented that they had to be excluded. To some extent, we may test whether the present distribution of rock art sites in central Norway is random by looking into when and Figure 99. Discoveries of Northern rock art sites in central Norway sorted into 20-year where the known sites were periods. discovered. Around 80 panels are known from the study area, many of which are found close to other out as the main site in this area, but the discoveries at panels together with which they form a site. Figure 99 Hammer in the 1970s made the situation more complex. shows the locations of the sites from Romsdal, Nordmøre Two large sites apparently existed a few kilometres apart, and the Trøndelag counties marked with symbols but these sites may not have been contemporary. Bardal showing when the first panel at each site was discovered. was probably the older one, perhaps losing its importance The discovery years are sorted into 20-year periods from when the distance from the shore became too great. 1901 to 2000; discoveries made before 1901 are treated as a separate entity, as are those made from 2001 onwards. Bøla still remains quite isolated. More images were found at this site during the 2000s, but the discovery of the bird The four sites known before 1900 contain large carvings at Homnes is of greater importance, ‘naturalistic’ zoomorphs. Bogge and Bardal are among demonstrating that more sites do also exist in this former, the larger sites, too. During the next twenty years (1901innermost Trondheimsfjord basin. In sum, the location of 1929), three more sites were discovered, Hammer near Northern rock art sites in central Norway is not random. Bardal, Honnhammar near Bogge, and Evenhus across For this to happen, many hitherto unknown panels and the fjord from Hell. Later, sites were found scattered sites must be identified in the presently void areas. Based along the coast, but also around and between the already on the present situation, it is far more probable that new known sites at Trondheimsfjord. However, Stykket and discoveries will take place near the presently known sites Rein west of and Horjem east of the sites known until in the central and inner Trondheimsfjord basins. then expanded the distribution area in both directions. Most sites with paintings on the Fosen peninsula were Starting with sites containing large ‘naturalistic’ carvings, found in the 1920s and -30s, but some were found much which have been claimed to represent the first phase of more recently. Based on the present distribution, we may rock art making in the region, we find that one of these is note that small sites surround one or two large sites. in each of these basins, and also in inner Romsdalsfjord. These larger sites are in major fjord basins, at It should, however, be added that remnants of a large, Romsdalsfjord, Strindfjord and Beitstadfjord. The number apparently naturalistic, cervid exist at Rødsand on Averøy of paintings at Honnhammaren found recently indicates at the mouth of Sunndalsfjord, and Gjerde (2010) also that this may be the major site in the Sunndalsfjord basin. ranks the elk at Hammer V among these images. We may here be on the verge of identifying an overall pattern: one At Beitstadfjord, most sites are found on the north side of large, supposedly early, site being surrounded by smaller the fjord, but the Gangstad site shows that rock art exists and later ones. Large sites are today ‘missing’ from two on the south side of this basin, too. This site, however, of the Trondheimsfjord basins, the Strindfjord and was originally located at a narrow sound with strong tidal ‘Snåsafjord’ basins. However, as emphasised by Hagen currents, as was the By site. For a long time, Bardal stood (1976, 55), Holte I, which covers only around 20 m2,


Conclusions contains about 100 individual carvings and is thus a large site numerically, and may therefore be a central site in this area. The way the images were drawn at this site makes it stand out relative to the other sites in question.

characterises differences between images at an individual level. Each of these ‘styles’ may comprise several ‘substyles’. This can be exemplified by Marstrander’s (1963) sorting of Southern Scandinavian boat images in Østfold into two ‘styles’, each representing a certain way of drawing the same boat type. Almgren (1987) sorted Swedish boat images in Bohuslän into six ‘styles’ based on the curvature of the lines. He found that each ‘style’ corresponds with one of the six Scandinavian Bronze Age periods. Correspondingly, Kaul (1998) sorted boat images engraved on Bronze Age razors in Denmark into a series of period-characterising ‘styles’, and he identified the same styles on rock art carvings. When Mikkelsen (1977b) discussed the ‘styles’ in the Northern rock art of eastern Norway, he in reality followed the thinking of specialists studying Southern Scandinavian rock art, focusing on the way the lines were drawn, not the overall impression experienced by the viewers.

Leaving central Norway, we find Northern rock art scattered all over northern Scandinavia, but this distribution, as we know it today, clearly is not random. Apparently, no rock art was made at most places where people lived during the latter part of the Stone Age. Suitable outcrops and panels showing no signs of being decorated exist virtually everywhere. The distribution of remains of contemporary material culture demonstrates that lack of rock art in certain regions was not due to people not being present. The conclusion at this stage therefore is that all over Scandinavia the making of Northern rock art took place in certain regions at specially selected sites and panels, probably on rare occasions. Tendencies for clustering vary in different parts of Scandinavia. At Vingen (Bøe 1932; Lødøen and Mandt 2012) and Nämforsen (Hallström 1960), we find one large cluster with several thousand carvings. The situation in many ways is similar in Alta in Finnmark, but this even larger concentration consists of several separate clusters (Helskog 1988; 2012). In the interior of northern Sweden and in eastern Norway, most sites are isolated, being located along some major watercourses.

In my way of studying Northern rock art, I focus on images and details that classification systems presented so far have failed to take into consideration, except at the level of presence or non-presence of internal line patterns. In this work, I come closer to the classifications and analyses of the Southern Scandinavian carvings. My basic analytical tools are line and body segments. I divide the contour lines into segments separated by breaking points. Animals may be drawn with one continuous line without breaking points, but the contour line more commonly consists of a set of segments. In central Norway, however, animals drawn as a combination of separate body segments are common. The head and neck normally form the initial body segment, but frequently the back line is part of this segment, too. The foreleg in particular was drawn as a separate segment, being added to or superimposed on the trunk. Previous scholars seem to have seen lines merely as internal line patterns, without studying these patterns further.

In areas with strong river erosion and frequent landslides, which are common in regions with Late Glacial marine clays, nature has created archaeological ‘black holes’ (Groube 1981). These disasters, however, normally do not affect rock art, but one of some very rare Early Iron Age runic inscriptions on rocks at Veblungsnes in Rauma, facing Romsdalsfjord, was lost in a landslide in the 1930s. Landslides may considerably change the topography surrounding a rock art site, creating a landscape seemingly void of ancient settlements. This is the situation in the gently sloping valleys south and east of Trondheimsfjord (Sveian and Solli 1997). The clays may, however, be re-deposited on top of older deposits, as was the case in the lower Stjørdal valley where a layer of subfossil plants found at a depth of almost 4 m on Re Farm has been dated to the beginning of the Bronze Age. Southern Scandinavian tradition carvings are also found there, on two small outcrops a few metres above the present terrace (Sognnes 2001a). An Early Bronze Age landslide created this terrace and it is not known whether carvings exist on these outcrops below the topsoil level.

Large ‘naturalistic’ cervids drawn with continuous contour lines are found at five sites. Gjessing (1936) classified these images as ‘style group I’, identical with Hallström’s (1938) extended ‘Nordland style’. More images are, however, drawn in the same way, but these are smaller and less ‘naturalistic’ and belong to Gjessing’s ‘style group II’ and may be referred to as ‘subnaturalistic’. Thus, images representing two different ‘styles’ were drawn according to the same principles, but are separated by size and degree of ‘naturalism’.

Images Figure 100 presents a selection of the images analysed in chapter 4. Together, they demonstrate the major ways cervid images were drawn. Due to the few images investigated at Berg in Verdal, the analysis of B has not been presented in this way before. Together with A from Bardal, it was drawn as a single contour line. Both these images appear to be ‘naturalistic’, but B is only half the size of A. However, it stands together with another, unfortunately incomplete, full-size elk. On both images, the ears are contoured. Since elk can move each ear

‘Style’ in Scandinavian rock art research is primarily used at image level, each image being attributed to a certain style that apparently was preferred during a particular period (e.g. Hallström 1938). In the case of the Northern tradition, the ‘style’ groups are based on a general visual impression of each image used to sort the images into broad entities. The ‘style’ concept in the Southern Scandinavian tradition, however, is used to discriminate between varieties within different types and, as such,


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway (I-J) and Bardal III, where the initial body segment consists of single lines. In its simplest form, these images have no belly or hump on the back (J). Most of these images have trunks with elaborate interior patterns consisting of lines and cupules. For the images at Bogge and Honnhammar (F-G), the head and forelegs are directly linked in a biangular direct perspective. We find that these images can be sorted into groups that might be referred to as ‘styles’, but these are at a different level than the ‘styles’ Gjessing and Hallström recognised. Rather, we are getting closer to the classification system followed by scholars focusing on Southern Scandinavian rock art, where the images are sorted into types. Several phases? Hypothetically, we may sort the images into two major classes. The large ‘naturalistic’ carvings form the first of these classes, which is represented in each of the major fjord basins: Bogge, Stykket, Berg, Bardal and Bøla. Following the ‘style’-based chronologies of Gjessing (1936) and Hallström (1938), we may suggest that these images represent a symbolic takeover of each of these basins. The large Bogge elk apparently remained in solitude for a long time, but eventually (according to Gjessing) many small ‘schematic’ carvings were made at the end of the Neolithic. In the outer part of Strindfjord, later carvings were not made at Stykket, but a new, large site was established at Evenhus on the Figure 100. Construction sequences for selected quadrupeds in central Norway. south side of the (later) Frosta peninsula. As shown above, this site independently, the two ears on B represent no violation of cannot have been used before the transition between the the rule of the simple profile perspective. Neolithic and the Bronze Age. The initial rock art site in inner Strindfjord was at Berg; the number of carvings Most of Gjessing’s ‘style group II’ images have similar there remains unknown. The major site in this basin contoured initial segments forming the upper part of the seems to have been at Holte. Like at Bogge (apart from animal; sometimes the entire animal was contoured. The the large elk), the Holte carvings, for stylistic reasons, are lower parts may be drawn in many different ways, thought to be late. frequently with the foreleg being attached to or superimposed on the trunk. This is demonstrated here by In the Beitstadfjord basin, Bardal I represents the initial figures C from Hammer and D from Hell. For E from phase, while Hammer today is the larger site in this basin. Evenhus, no part of the legs was included in the initial As stated above, similarities between boats and whales body segment. At the other end of Gjessing’s ‘style’ between Hammer and Evenhus indicate that the Hammer sequence we find the small images at Bogge I (H), Holte I carvings are late, too. At the moment, we appear to lack a


Conclusions similar large site in the ‘Snåsafjord’ basin, but the Bøla reindeer may represent the initial phase. Whether Bøla later developed into a large site is unknown. Perhaps a large site still remains to be discovered somewhere along Lake Snåsa, but more carvings may be covered by the railway embankment below the presently known carvings at Bøla. The Horjem site is located close to the inner end of the ‘Snåsafjord’ basin. From here, via Finnli, hunters may have crossed over to northern Jämtland, where several sites with paintings are known (Lindgren 2004).

them this is not correct. What they have in common is the ‘style’ used when they were drawn. These images picture two different boat types, one of which is the standard Bronze Age boat type with double ‘prows’ in the stem drawn in the ‘style’ otherwise used for the Mjeltehaugen and Skatval boats. This ‘style’ is not represented among the images found on Bronze Age razors (Kaul 1998). Gjerde (2010, 400) maintained that I was wrong when I link these images to the Southern tradition, claiming that the boat type depicted was developed in the north. PreBronze Age boats clearly existed along the entire Norwegian coast, as evidenced by the many coastal and island dwelling sites. I believe we are dealing here with carvings representing the same boat type, which was drawn in two different ‘styles’ that, in this case, may represent different groups of people. One of the ‘styles’ clearly is associated with and occurs together with ‘standard’ Bronze Age boat images. For the Southern tradition boats, the difference between these two styles is further emphasised by their location at sites away from Trondheimsfjord, in the interior of the Skatval peninsula and in the Stjørdal valley. Trondheimsfjord cannot be seen from either of the sites where these boat images occur.

The newly discovered paintings at Honnhammaren (Linge 2014) indicate that this site belongs to the class of large sites, too, located in the Sunndalsfjord basin at the mouth of which we find the Søbstad and Rødsand sites. This fjord and watercourse system comprises the river site at Nerhol, too. The cluster of rock paintings on the Fosen peninsula is more difficult to fit into this model. The sites are small, but Mølnargården, which is located at an inlet in outer Trondheimsfjord, seems to contain a relatively large number of images representing various motifs, which today are strongly faded (this site has not yet been fully investigated). Developing this model further, we may identify an early phase during which a limited number of large ‘naturalistic’ cervids were carved at one site in the main fjord basins. Leaving the Holocene land uplift aside, we cannot tell when these carvings were made. However, we might suggest that they were made already in the Late Mesolithic and marked a shift in habitation from the coast to the fjord districts. The main period for making rock carvings in central Norway, however, appears to be the Neolithic. Here, we are facing a situation where the carvings apparently were drawn in many different ways at the same time, with distinct differences between the major sites in each fjord basin.

At Leirfall Farm, which has the largest cluster of Southern Scandinavian tradition rock carvings in central Norway, boat images of the Mjeltehaugen type are found together with geometric designs resembling patterns known from the Mjeltehaugen slabs. This is the only example of grave art known from open-air rock art sites in Norway, emphasising possible contacts between early farmers at Trondheimsfjord and the person(s) buried at Mjeltehaugen. From this perspective, it is of interest to note that the grave slabs from this region are found further out along the fjord away from the Bronze Age open-air sites, as if the makers of this grave art kept some distance from the local population, marking their presence by symbols otherwise used by European Neolithic communities in Sunnmøre and at Trondheimsfjord, where we also find the northernmost examples of carvings that may belong to the so-called Atlantic rock art tradition (Bradley 1997).

My tentative dating of the later of these two phases raises a new question: what was the relationship between Northern and Southern Scandinavian rock art in this region, the latter being dominated by Bronze Age carvings picturing boats and imprints of foot soles. Gjessing (1936) dated his ‘style group III’ to the Early Bronze Age and the Southern Scandinavian carvings to the Late Bronze Age (Gjessing 1935a). Central to this question are some more that 4.5 m long Bronze Age type boats at Bardal I. Based on similarities with some equally long boats at Torsbo in Bohuslän, these carvings have recently been re-dated to the beginning of the Bronze Age (Kristiansen 2002, Kaul 1998).

Migrations Stone Age people migrated because most prey animals migrated. The rich resources of terrestrial and marine animals permanently living in or seasonally entering the fjord basins was an advantage for people living by Trondheimsfjord, making it unnecessary for long seasonal migrations of people, and different contemporary groups may have lived in and exploited the fjord basins. The distribution of rock art in each basin may be a response to the establishment of these groups, marking unity within groups and also differences and borders between groups and territories.

To these images we should add the apparent local boat type that appears to be older than the dominating Southern Scandinavian boat type at Bardal and in smaller versions at other sites, too (Sognnes 2001). These boats (Figure 18) are found in central and western Norway (Fett and Fett 1941; Mandt Larsen 1972; Sognnes 2001), but in my opinion (unlike Marstrander 1963) not in Østfold. Of special interest is the Leirvåg I panel in Askvoll, Sogn and Fjordane (Mandt 1976, 67). At first glance, all these images seem to represent this type, too, but for some of

People normally do not migrate randomly through the landscape. For outsiders, these migrations may appear random while following animals during hunts, but cervids


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway show a strong tendency to follow certain migration trails that have been used for millennia. Whales follow schools of fish, in Trondheimsfjord especially herring, which also show a strong tendency to follow the same migration patterns every year, variations normally depending on differences in sea temperature. Salmon and sea trout swim towards the same rivers every year. In sum, animal migrations are often predictable, and we must suggest that the ancient hunter-gatherers of northern Scandinavia knew these behavioural patterns well within their normal hunting territories.

mouth of the tributary Leksdal valley. Correspondingly, the Berg site is near the mouth of the Verdal valley which, like Stjørdal, runs towards the border mountains and onwards to many large rivers and extensive forests in interior northern Sweden. These sites may mark transitions from sea to land and vice versa, and may have been important places to stop during migrations between the sea and inland. The Hommelvik site may be seen in this perspective, too. The Leksdal valley and the Homla valley that meet the sea in the bay at Hommelvik, both lead towards the large Lake Selbu in the south. Two small Mesolithic hunting stations were excavated at Foldsjøen, a lake near Hommelvik (L. Gustafson 1987; Skar 1989). The coastal panels are small and scattered. Tendencies for clustering are, however, found at Averøy in Nordmøre and at the mouth of Vefsnfjord in Nordland.

Most rock art sites in central Norway appear to be located on ancient migration routes that normally followed sounds and fjords, but also crossed isthmuses and went along valleys. So far, no boat remains have been found, but around 80 boat images provide some information about what the boats looked like, although not about their construction and size. Most probably, the boats were used for different purposes and were built in different sizes.

Traffic along the Norwegian coast started when the first settlers arrived during the Early Mesolithic; the entire coast apparently was settled within a few centuries (Bjerck 1995) and this traffic must have continued ever since. Stone Age foragers probably moved between favourable seasonal hunting and fishing grounds, transporting raw material and rough outs, as well as finished tools and weapons. During the Neolithic, this traffic gained a new dimension with the import of flint tools from southern Scandinavia combined with imports of cattle, sheep and goats, together with seeds, possibly by migrating farmers.

Surprisingly few Northern rock art panels have been found away from the fjords considering the many sites (mostly paintings) known from the neighbouring Swedish counties. Janson (1962, 35, 55) showed that the most distinct Neolithic artefacts, like axes and adzes, are found in the eastern part of Jämtland, and also that the lithic material from inland sites differs in many respects from the material found at the coastal sites to the east. He claimed that the first settlers in this region came from the east. The interior apparently was of little interest for the Fosna settlers on the west coast (Janson 1962, 18-19), yet Janson (1962, 59) emphasised the connection between the Jämtland and Trøndelag rock art. Later, however, Baudou (1995, 55-56) suggested that the first settlers in Jämtland migrated from the coast of central Norway and from the south via the county of Dalarna. The inland sites in central Norway are small, and many people can gather around the small hollow where the Finnli carving is located, but taking its isolated location into consideration, this site was probably visited by small groups during the short summer and autumn hunting seasons.

Summing up, we find similar distribution patterns at three of four Trondheimsfjord basins, as well as at Romsdalsfjord. At Romsdalsfjord, the smaller sites are located at sounds leading to the outer coast, while some of the smaller sites in the Strindfjord basin are located at the mouth of valleys leading towards mountainous and forested areas in the interior of the Scandinavian Peninsula. These locations may be associated with animal resources (fish, seals and whales at the coast and elk and reindeer inland), but also with transport and travelling. A possible interpretation of these distribution patterns is that each fjord basin was exploited by separate groups who marked their territories by rock art, each group having one large rock art site that probably was located near a dwelling site, while the smaller panels were located near smaller hunting stations and where seasonal inland expeditions started and ended. We actually have one situation where this is the case, the Vistnesdalen panels, which are small but contain a wide range of motifs and are located within a large slate complex habitation area. Unfortunately, no systematic excavations have taken place at this site. We cannot, however, take it for granted that the situation at the larger sites in the Trondheimsfjord area is the same as at Vistnesdalen.

The two Nerhol panels face the River Driva, the elk at Nerhol II being located near the top of a narrow gorge 12 m above the normal water level in the river. It can best be seen from the other side of the gorge. This is a site that was not meant for many people to visit. At Nerhol I, small groups may congregate on the riverbank in front of the shallow rock shelter. Again, these are sites made and/or visited during hunting seasons. The Stykket site is near the inner end of the outer, narrow Trondheimsfjord channel, where it opens towards the wide Strindfjord basin. The Selset site is located at the narrow Skarnsundet, the sound leading from the Strindfjord to the Beitstadfjord basin. Originally, this was the case for the Gangstad site, too, but the sound at which this site was located is now dry land.

While the images suggested as being the older ones are quite similar, this is not the case for those found on the larger panels. The Holte I images differ strikingly from those on any other panel in the region, and the small size of this panel is also striking considering the great number of images. Bogge, too, stands out due to the

The Hell and Lånke sites are located at the mouth of the Stjørdal valley and, at the same time, on either side of the


Conclusions many different ways the images were drawn. Holte and Bogge, however, have in common their focus on relatively small zoomorphic images almost exclusively picturing cervids.

At the larger sites, different motifs occur together. These sites connect the major prey animals and the different hunts that took part in different seasons and at different places; they were probably places where people came together. Comparing the larger sites, we find that Evenhus lacks birds, which may signify that bird hunting was of no significance for people meeting there. Whales were of greater importance. Bird catching must, however, have been important for people living at Beitstadfjord and ‘Snåsafjord’. The fjord seems to have played a minor role for the inner Strindfjord group, the main focus being on cervids. At Romsdalsfjord, the main focus was on cervids, too, but the Bogge II panel also depicts whales.

Evenhus and Hammer show greater similarities both as regards motifs and the ways the images were drawn. We might claim that close contact existed between the makers of the images and thus between the people meeting at these two sites, contrary to Holte and Bogge that would belong to more isolated groups. As regards the ‘Snåsafjord’ basin, most of the carvings at Bøla are too strongly weathered for us to build any hypotheses. Nor do we know the size and number of carvings at this site, the local topography being disturbed by the construction of the railway line in the 1920s. Seemingly, this site lacks the variation of motifs found at Evenhus and Hammer.

We may suggest that ceremonies and rituals took place at these larger sites and were attended by the entire group, or at least by those members who would take part in the hunting. Some of these rituals may have been transition rites, while others may have focused on ties between humans and animals, though not necessarily on the actual hunt. However, they may mark places where people congregated prior to communal hunts.

Looking beyond the study area, we find that rock art and habitation sites are found together at Nämforsen (Baudou 1977, 82; Käcks 2001), Vingen (Lødøen and Mandt 2012) and Alta (Helskog 1988; 2012). In the case of Nämforsen, Malmer (1981, 107) suggested that hunters from the north and traders from southern Scandinavia met at this spectacular waterfall with its many rock carvings, some of which are of distinct Southern Scandinavian types.

Some of the smaller panels may be more directly linked to hunting, for instance Selset and Horjem, Selset being located near the best flounder banks in Trondheimsfjord and Horjem in an important resting area for seasonally migrating geese. At Bøla, reindeer still migrate to Lake Snåsa in winter. This is not the case at Hell, but here the many farms in lower Stjørdal block the former reindeer migrations towards the sea; this blocking process probably started already in the Neolithic.

Religion and rituals Separately, magic, totemism, shamanism or animism may help to interpret parts of the Northern rock art record, but they cannot explain the variation in motifs and the locations of the record being studied. Nor can they explain why images and symbols were painted or carved on these particular rocks. Most apparent is the relationship between motifs and hunting; all species depicted were exploited by Stone Age people. Catching the most common motifs, elk and whales, would normally demand cooperation between groups of hunters. Boats were necessary for fishing and to chase and catch whales, as well as to catch waterfowl. Whether the whales were harpooned at sea or chased ashore or into narrow inlets where the actual killing took place is unknown, but we can easily imagine that killing took place on the shore in front of the Evenhus panels, for example. It is, however, difficult to predict where and when a situation like this would occur; one cannot plan a chase like this before the whales have been spotted in the fjord.

The local topography at Hell does not indicate that this was an important killing site for reindeer; rather we may see the carvings as marking the start of the long journey towards the realm of the reindeer in the mountains further east. These carvings and other small rock art sites along hunting trails may have been shrines the hunters had to visit and perform rituals at before they could continue their journey. Totemism was discussed as part of the analysis of Evenhus V. The motifs represented may be linked with totemic clans, with a primary division between terrestrial and maritime motifs (including boats). While bird clans may have lived at Beitstadfjord and ‘Snåsafjord’, boat clans lived at Beitstadfjord and outer Strindfjord. Elk and whale clans apparently lived in all the fjord basins. This means that the major clans met at several places, but also had their own special places. This seems to have been more common for the smaller clans. This model, however, raises some questions. Did one elk clan exploit the whole area or were there several smaller elk subclans, each with its own territory? The variations in the ways the elk images were drawn might indicate the latter.

The situation is different for elk and reindeer, since these animals are easier to observe during migrations. They may be led towards killing sites by lines of stone markers or flags, and also by people. This kind of hunt demands watching and systematic observations for some time before the hunt eventually takes place. From this perspective, the relevance of hunting magic (Gjessing 1936; 1945) should not be ignored. On the other hand, hardly any hunting scenes are depicted. Animals were the central motifs in the Northern rock art of central Norway, while the acts of hunting played a surprisingly modest role.

The proximity of the rock art to water, whether the sea, lakes or rivers, may be interpreted as an expression of a shamanic worldview (Helskog 1999); the rock art was located where the human world met the upper and lower worlds. Seasonally migrating hunter-gatherers would have


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway crossed this border zone between land and sea several times annually. These crossings, which van Gennep (1960: 22-23) called territorial passages, may have required appropriate ceremonies (Westerdahl 2005).

contrary, I believe we can argue in favour of all based on the presently available record.

Images picturing possible shamans are, however, rare; fewer than five of around 700 images. This may be due to shamans being present in the flesh conducting appropriate rituals or entering into other states of consciousness. Geometric designs that might represent phosphenes or entoptics being experienced by shamans during altered states of consciousness do exist, yet I am sceptical of interpreting the Northern rock art from a shamanic perspective; this interpretation seems irrelevant for most panels and sites, at least as the only possible interpretation.

Since its very beginning, Scandinavian archaeology has been a comparative discipline. This is manifested in series of types and, for Northern rock art, in ‘styles’. Normally, scholars seek similarities, tending to ignore differences. Shetelig (1922) took it for granted that this rock art had its origin in the Late Palaeolithic cave art in southwestern Europe. Gjessing rejected this, claiming a local invention for the Northern rock art in northern Norway, but at the same time he claimed that during its later phases it showed influences from rock art in northern Russia and Siberia, especially from the Urals (Gjessing 1978, 25-28).

Animism may explain why a particular rock was chosen as a site for imagery, for instance at Åmnes and Högberget, but natural lines like the ones found at these sites appear to be rare; more common are formations that look like petrified animals from certain directions and under favourable light conditions. The emergence of elk images on the Duved panels during low water is an example of an extraordinary site created by humans; the artist(s) must have been aware of the seasonal fluctuations in the river. We find another example at Bøla, where Bøla I and II may disappear into the underworld under cascades of water, returning to this world some days later. At these sites, we find that carved images travel between different worlds, as if they were shamans.


Early scholars (e.g. Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938) focused on dating, basing their work on comparisons between images, some being more similar than others and therefore considered contemporary. My investigations show, however, that most images are dissimilar. Looking at the record from this alternative perspective, we can identify differences at several levels; the idea of close parallels clearly was based on inadequate studies of the images. First, we have large and small panels, with Bardal and Finnli representing each end of this continuum. In addition, we find differences in the motifs present on the panels; fish only at Selset and birds only at Horjem, while cervids are the only motifs at Revlan and Finnli. Most boat images are found at Hammer and Evenhus. However, cervids and cetaceans are normally found together with other motifs.

It seems to me that animism brings us closest to a relevant general interpretation of this rock art, in particular regarding the choice of place for the images. The appearance and qualities of the rocks seem to have had a bearing for the choice of panels to be carved or painted. Visitors may have identified special powers or potency in these rocks, making images that enhanced these qualities. The first encounters between a rock face and humans were probably accidental, but the making of rock art turned the rocks into places for future generations to visit. We may then ask whether it was the rock or the images that had and preserved the potency. Could this potency be transmitted between rock and animals? Does the potency of the rock control the animals, or is the power of the animals being returned to the underworld from where they once came?

The greatest variations in motifs are found at Honnhammaren, Lånke, Hammer, Bardal and Vistnesdalen, where 7 or 8 different motifs are present (Table I). Bardal and Hammer are among the largest sites. After the recent discoveries (Linge 2014), Honnhammaren may also be reckoned among the larger ones, while Lånke and Vistnesdalen are among the smaller sites. Evenhus, too, is a large site, but has only five different motifs. The large ‘naturalistic’ images are more similar to each other than to any other images. The same is the case for the images at Bardal III and Holte I. Hell, on the other hand, stands alone with its V-shaped legs being superimposed on the head-and-trunk segment and reaching the back line. The boat images at Hammer and Evenhus show similarities, too. This is also the case for the whales at these two sites, but it is difficult to identify similarities between the elk images. While most images at Hammer are contoured and ‘sub-naturalistic’, most elk at Evenhus have forelegs attached or superimposed on the trunk or only the front line of the foreleg was drawn as part of the initial body segment (Figure 49). Birds and whales with internal lines are seen at Hammer, Evenhus and Lånke; birds at Bøla, too. At Hammer and Lånke, we find the only whale images with two nearly parallel lines running along the trunk, the space between them being partly

I have based my descriptions and evaluation of these ‘primitive’ religions on the works of early historians of religion who followed an analytical approach and sorted their data into an evolutionary sequence (Pals 2006). This sequence is most probably incorrect and rock art scholars tend to focus on one interpretation alone. Perhaps the time is ripe to see these interpretations as fractions of a greater entity, seeing magic, totemism, shamanism and animism within a more holistic framework. For the record being studied here, I have not found arguments in favour of one of these interpretations over the others; on the


Conclusions filled with line patterns. These patterns are, however, not identical.

Russia. Focusing on the silhouette or scooped carvings at Nämforsen, they found that a fish image and double-lined boats at Laxön represented local not communal ideas. However, ‘contoured’ elk images play a significant role in the total record at Nämforsen and also among the painting sites in northern Sweden (e.g. Sjöstrand 2011; 2015). As shown above, this was the normal way of drawing cervids on the Norwegian coast as well. The contoured images at Nämforsen thus may be seen as part of a western tradition as opposed to the eastern silhouette tradition, but at the same time demonstrating a local way of drawing the motifs.

Outside the study area, I find no direct parallels in the record from eastern Norway (Engelstad 1934), but at Drotten in Fåberg and Møllerstufossen in Nordre Land, both in Oppland (Mikkelsen 1977a) cervids are drawn with similar initial body segments to the Evenhus image shown as Figure 100E. The legs are not superimposed on the trunk, but many of these images have trunks filled with vertical lines. Comparisons between the large ‘naturalistic’ contoured animals in northern Nordland and central Norway show some similarities. It is chiefly the techniques used that separate these two groups, as do the apparent movements depicted in the Nordland group. Gjessing (1932, 37) suggested that the reduced ‘naturalism’ of many Northern Scandinavian images was due to lack of personal drawing skills and did not represent stylistic variations. As I see it, very few of the Nordland carvings are truly ‘naturalistic’ compared with, for instance, the Bøla reindeer. For some images, this is demonstrated by the way the head and trunk were drawn, and because antlers were mostly drawn as separate segments. In general, stylistically these images are not what they are claimed to be; morphologically they often contain traits common with Gjessing’s ‘style group II’ images. Together with the different ways of making these carvings, this indicates that contact between the makers of these two groups of large images is unlikely. Furthermore, the distance between these groups is large and, if the maximum shoreline dates represent the real dates for these images, there is also a considerable time gap between them (Hallström 1938; Gjessing 1945, Hesjedal 1994).

Looking at the record from western Norway, we find that images with two-lined forelegs superimposed on the trunk dominate at Vingen (Bøe 1932; Bakka 1974; Lødøen and Mandt 2012), but the Vingen carvings, appear to be more standardised. As shown above, superimposed forelegs are known from Hardanger, too (Bakka 1966; Mandt Larsen 1972, Figure 35E-F), and further south a single cervid drawn using this procedure is found at the Forbergodden promontory in Lista, southernmost Norway (Engelstad 1934). Hagen claimed that the images at Holte I come close to the Ausevik and Vingen images, arguing that these similarities were the result of close contacts: ‘this similarity […] is so clear that it cannot be coincidental’ (Hagen 1976, 55). Internal line patterns dominate on these three sites, but my analyses show that the Vingen and Holte images were constructed according to distinctly different principles. At Ausevik (Hagen 1970), a single line formed the initial body segment of many cervids, but the trunks of these animals were drawn differently from those at Holte. Some were shaped like semi-circles, but the interior of these trunks was drawn as silhouettes. In addition, the legs were placed differently relative to the trunk; on the Holte images, the vertical legs were attached to the back line, while the legs on the Ausevik images protrude from the trunk at sharp angles. My conclusion therefore is that there are no close relationships between Holte and Vingen or Ausevik; the differences are much more striking.

I can see hardly any similarities between the other sites in the counties of Nordland and Troms (Gjessing 1932; Simonsen 1958). The situation is the same for Nämforsen (Hallström 1960). This large site is only some 400 km from Trondheimsfjord. Both contoured and silhouette trunks are seen at Nämforsen, but most of the animals have legs drawn with single lines (Sjöstrand 2011). We find contoured trunks in the Jämtland record, but I find it difficult to identify the similarities previous scholars (e.g. Hallström 1960) claimed to exist between Glösa and the Bogge and Evenhus sites. Some of the Gärde images are large and contoured, but the technique used to make these images is similar to that used at Hell and the ears are drawn as separate segments. The carvings at Landverk have been brought into this discussion, too (Hallström 1960), but I question the ‘naturalism’ of these images, which should be classified as belonging to Gjessing’s ‘style group II’. In general, therefore, the main similarity that can be identified between the Trøndelag and Jämtland images is that they are contoured, in contrast to the silhouette images that play an important role at Nämforsen.

Some images with two-lined forelegs superimposed on the trunk exist in Alta, for instance at Amtmannsnes (e.g. Helskog 2012, 176), but the trunks of these animals were shaped differently from those in central Norway and Vingen. Helskog (2012, 223) compared some cervids from period IV at Amtmannsnes with the Holte images, claiming that these two sites give similar impressions regarding design and content. The situation is, however, the same as for Vingen and Ausevik, the Amtmannsnes images were constructed according to principles that are not found at Holte. The only parallel I can see between the images found at these two sites is the frequent use of vertical internal lines in the trunk. Looking at the suggested similar carvings at Holte, Amtmannsnes and Ausevik from a chronological point of view, we find that the Ausevik carvings are dated to the Late Mesolithic (Lødøen 2014) and the Amtmannsnes carvings roughly to the Late Neolithic (Helskog 2012, 29).

In a recent study, Sapwell and Janik (2015, 55) compare carvings from Nämforsen (Laxön) and Zalavruga in


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway The particular way of drawing cervids discussed here may be seen as a speciality for western and central Norway. While the Vingen record seems to represent a standardised mass production of images, the much smaller central Norwegian record is more varied; these images are without internal line patterns except for the lines marking the legs. Focusing on images with silhouette trunks and bodies versus contoured animals plus animals consisting of two or more body segments that normally are contoured, too, we find contoured images all over Norway and in northern Sweden, while silhouette images dominate in northern Russia. We are apparently facing a profound division between two major rock art traditions in northern Europe. This division is further emphasised by the top of the boat stems that, in the eastern tradition, are shaped like elk heads, but in the west, as represented in the central Norwegian record, by bird heads. These traditions seemingly meet at Nämforsen and in Alta. The many sites with rock paintings in eastern Finland may represent a third tradition. We find the background for most comparisons in the strong focus on diffusionism in early twentieth century European archaeology. It held that new cultural elements were invented in certain central areas from which they spread to peripheral areas, in this case from southwestern Europe to Scandinavia during the Mesolithic (Shetelig 1922). Gjessing (1936) presented an alternative diffusion model for the early images and claimed that the later images originated in eastern Europe and Siberia.

made during one particular period, for instance the Late Mesolithic as claimed for Ausevik and Vingen (Lødøen 2014), but for the Trondheimsfjord area this would mean the Neolithic and the transition to the Bronze Age. The makers of these images clearly had little contact with contemporary artists. The images may, however, have been made during a long time span, but then there would have been little contact between the different generations of artists. It may be wrong to speak of one rock art tradition even within a relatively small geographical area like Trondheimsfjord. Encounters I have proposed that the rock panels functioned as loci for encounters between people and rocks, the hidden powers that might exist inside the rocks, on the rock face as a membrane between the human world and the underworld and as a gateway between these worlds. I have emphasised encounters between people and rocks, people and animals, people being present in the flesh, animals being symbolically present, and also between animals that belong in different worlds. We may also see these sites as places for possible encounters between living and dead people at burial ceremonies. However, no data from central Norway support this hypothesis at present. Neolithic graves do exist in this region (Binns and Rønne 1996; Asprem 2011), but there are apparently no links between these graves and the Northern rock art. Fragmented natural ‘animals’, such as at Åmnes and Högberget, and colours and special structures and textures in the rocks, may have been important for choosing a specific location for making rock images. These permanent features are there for everybody to see. At other sites, people may have had cursory and special experiences, meeting a herd of elk or a bear, suddenly seeing special patterns in the rock face created by light and shadows, water seeping from cracks on otherwise dry rock, etc. The last-mentioned situation, for instance, frequently occurs at Bardal I, where water continues to seep from many cracks over otherwise dry rock for days after it has stopped raining – as if the rock with its many ‘eyes’ is crying.

The idea of long-distance diffusion has lost its grip on Scandinavian rock art research, but short distance diffusion and contact still has its supporters. This is surprising considering the reduced interest in diffusion in archaeology in recent decades. I strongly suspect that it is also a result of inadequate analyses of the images in question. On a regional scale, my work demonstrates that, based on the ways the images were constructed, hardly any contacts can be identified between the Northern rock art regions that have so far been identified in Scandinavia. This even holds true at a local level. The drawing of zoomorphic images followed certain rules, but these rules varied from site to site. What these sites have in common is the making of rock art with a strong emphasis on animals, above all cervids. Within the study area, focus was also on cetaceans and to a minor degree on boats and birds. It is also common that most images were contoured. Can we interpret these general traits as evidence for diffusion and contact? I sincerely doubt it. At least we should not take this model as a starting point for our interpretations.

The rock plays the leading role at encounters like these. People pass by, stop and look, and experience something new and different. They may wonder how this happens and what kind of forces make it happen. They experience something to remember and a place to revisit. It may be a place for a shaman to visit for journeys into altered states of consciousness or to draw images to commemorate a special journey. During the process of making images, the relationship between rocks and people change. People create images by adding paint or rhythmically pecking or pounding lines into the rock. The rock face changes its appearance, revealing something of its inner substance; an image gradually enters the world of the people. In some cases, no new images were added to the first one, but at most

The lack of reliable dates for this rock art still represents a problem. Comparisons cannot be used for dating and I further question the general relevance of shoreline dating unless the local topography is taken into consideration. The images may be more or less contemporary, being


Conclusions sites new images were added the same day or many years later. These images soon become part of, and integrated in, the rock face; new generations of people would not remember the once pristine rock. The making of the images may be a way for people to reach into the rock and get in contact with the forces inherent in it. We may also turn this around; it may be a way for animals behind the rock face to enter the world of people. While the presence of images on the rocks may seem eternal, the presence of people is temporary. After some time, the rock and its images encounter new generations of people, perhaps on rare occasions or perhaps more regularly when young people were presented to underground forces during transition ceremonies, etc. During these transitions, neophytes left alone in front of the rock art may have waited for their personal encounters with other worlds like in the vision quest rituals practised by some North American tribes (Keyser and Klassen 2001). Perhaps hunters visited the rock while preparing for a difficult and potentially dangerous hunt. At small and isolated sites, the sole purpose of the encounters may have been to make the rock image, at places for solitude and personal encounters with rocks and images, but what happens if groups of people together encounter the rock? For this to happen there must be enough space for people to congregate in front of the rock and the images must be visible to the visitors. For images located at the edge of water, this may be difficult. It may be interesting to see the carvings emerge from the sea or a lake or from cascades in the river, but exactly when this will happen is difficult to predict. For the majority of rock images what is up and what is down can be identified based on the position of animal hooves, the keel line of boats, etc. To see the images in their correct positions, people must be in front of and below the panels. I have suggested that Bardal I, with its wide terrace in front and gently sloping shelf above, was especially suitable for performances; moreover, people could walk on the panel. There are situations where this is not possible because the rock face is too steep, or occasionally the rock was still emerging from the sea and had no platform below. No such sites are known in the study area, but they occur in other parts of Norway, for instance in Hardanger (e.g. Gjerde 2002). These panels are, however, rare and cannot form the basis for general conclusions based on statistical significance.

the overview we get from our first glimpses of the panel. This may have little significance for many panels, but such changes may be important for sites consisting of several panels. When we come from the seashore at Evenhus, we first see a rock outcrop emerging from the front of a larger hill that once formed an island in the middle of the fjord. Coming closer, we identify a shallow cleft with carvings on panels at both sides. Turning to the left, facing Evenhus II, we see only elk. Turning to the right, we no longer see these elk, but instead we see elk, boats and whales grouped together on Evenhus V as described above (Figure 69). It is even more difficult to grasp the entire sites at Hammer and Honnhammaren. Ethnicity Two different ethnic groups live in central Norway today, speaking different languages and basing their lives on different subsistence strategies. The majority group consists of the Germanic (Indo-European) speaking Norwegians who until recently based their subsistence on farming in various combinations between cultivation and livestock husbandry, and also fishing and hunting. Groups of reindeer-herding Sami live in upland areas near the border to Sweden and upland areas near the coast, like the interior of the Fosen peninsula. Traditionally, ‘Sea Sami’ lived along the coast among the Norwegians. The language spoken by the Southern Sami differs from the Sami languages spoken further north. Based on written sources, it has been claimed that this situation with two different ethnic groups in central Norway is recent (e.g. Haarstad 1992). However, these recent sources a priori, cannot say anything about earlier periods (Hansen and Olsen 2004). The rock art in Scandinavia in general can be sorted into groups at different levels, in central Norway both regionally and locally. Based on motifs and maximum shoreline dates, one may suggest that this art was made and used by foragers during the Late Mesolithic, the Neolithic and the earliest Bronze Age. There is general consensus among Scandinavian scholars that the Southern Scandinavian rock art tradition lasted through the Bronze Age. The suggested direct link to farming for this rock art, has, however, been questioned; rather it appears to be linked to maritime activities, above all sea journeys and trading expeditions (Kristiansen 2002; Ling 2008; 2012), the sites being located close to the sea. This is not, however, the case in the Trondheimsfjord area where all major Southern Scandinavian rock art sites are some distance from the sea, on the Skatval plain around 100 m above present sea level and in the Stjørdal and Gauldal valleys, more than 10 km from the contemporary seashore (Marstrander and Sognnes 1999; Sognnes 2001). Only a few small, late panels were close to contemporary shores. Unlike the makers of the Northern rock art, the early farmers in this region during the Bronze Age apparently preferred to make their rock art away from the sea.

Scholars tend to focus on the images alone, basing their interpretations on religion-based models, the local topography being ignored. The rock surfaces and their immediate surroundings must have been as significant for why a certain face was chosen to carve or paint images. What people experience during encounters with rocks and rock images varies. When we approach the larger panels we first see the rock, then the larger images gradually appear and eventually the smaller images become identifiable, too. When we get close to the panel, the images become clearer, but at the same time we may lose

I have argued in favour of a Neolithic origin for some of the boat images found together with ‘classic’ Bronze Age images in central Norway. Prescott and Walderhaug


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway

Figure 101. Rock art distribution in central Norway and northern Sweden; squares = paintings; dots = Northern carvings; hatched areas = Southern Scandinavian tradition rock art (after Sognnes 2002).

(1995, 26) drew the same conclusion. From this follows a possible Neolithic date for the Mjeltehaugen grave slabs, too (Cochrane et al. 2015), which means that images belonging to both these rock art traditions may be ‘contemporary’ in this region, a situation that may be interpreted from an ethnic perspective. These traditions may represent the ancestors of the present Sami and Norwegians. Myrholt (2008) suggested that Sami made the rock paintings in this region and interpreted the Fosen peninsula paintings accordingly. Myrholt may be right, but this raises the question of who made the Northern carvings.

seem not to have made rock art; however, they may have started making specifically designed boat images some time during the Late Neolithic when contact with southern Scandinavia became stronger. They may even have been responsible for the boat carvings at Evenhus and Hammer. Figure 101 shows the distribution of Northern rock art sites in central Norway and the adjacent part of northern Sweden. The majority of these sites are in or near the relatively low ‘Mid-Scandinavian Corridor’ between Trondheimsfjord and the Baltic Sea that is the shortest crossing of the Scandinavian Peninsula. To the south of this area, we find small concentrations of Northern rock carvings in some eastern Norwegian valleys, some sites with paintings in Värmland and Bohuslän in Sweden, and a small group of paintings in inner Telemark, central southern Norway. Along the west coast, a cluster is formed by the sites at Vingen and Ausevik. Rock carvings are also scattered along the Norwegian coast further north, culminating in the large Alta sites. Along the Swedish coast, only a few sites are known at some river mouths. In general, rock art is absent from the Swedish coast, but this is due to the strong, rapid Holocene land uplift in this area. The present coast had not yet emerged from the sea when the rock art was made.

I have emphasised the close relationship between Northern rock art and the contemporary Neolithic material culture represented by the slate industry. Until a century ago, some scholars believed that this industry was synonymous with a Sami population, but this interpretation was abandoned. T. Petersen (1920), for instance, argued against it, finding that the model gave no room for a Norwegian population in central Norway during the Neolithic, which he believed existed. The distribution of slate artefacts in a Scandinavian perspective indicates that southern Scandinavian farmers used them, too. In inland northern Sweden, slate tools and weapons occur together with quartzite artefacts as a single entity, but quartzite tools are rare on the Norwegian coast. Parallel to this, the material culture in central Norway shows contacts with Neolithic southern Scandinavia from the Early Neolithic and the Middle Neolithic (Østmo 2000; Asprem 2012). These contacts gradually grew stronger, culminating in the Bronze Age, as shown by both material and visual culture. These groups in general

Seeing this distribution from an ethnic perspective, we may define the Mid-Scandinavian corridor with its many rock art sites as representing a cultural border zone between what we may call northern Scandinavian and southern Scandinavian people, respectively, the Northern rock art made further south marking pockets of northern


Conclusions Scandinavian people in enclaves in areas dominated by southern Scandinavians. Further north, there apparently was little need to mark the inland with rock art, but this seems to have been necessary along the coast, especially along the Norwegian Sea, where colonies of farmers were established.

coast. In a study of the Neolithic in western Norway, Bergsvik (2006) found that the Stad headland marked a cultural border with significant differences in material culture to the south and north. This means that we here, too, are dealing with a cultural border zone that also may be reflected in the rock art repertoire.

The many different ways the Northern motifs were drawn indicate the existence of many small groups of huntergatherers who exploited separate parts of the vast territory of central and northern Scandinavia, both along the coasts and in the interior of the peninsula. These groups may also have preferred to use different techniques when making the images. Some of the groups chose to make rock carvings, while others preferred to paint images on the rocks.

Recent studies of Sami mitrochondrial DNA and Ychromosomes in Sweden (Tambets et al. 2004, 671) showed both variations and parallel patterns among different Sami subgroups. However, they also showed high frequencies of haplogroup I among Norwegians, Swedes, Finns and Sami, suggesting that this haplogroup represents a heritage from the very first settlers of Fennoscandia. A study of Y-chromosome diversity in Sweden (Karlsson et al. 2006, 969) showed no traces of agriculture being spread to Scandinavia by Neolithic migrants; suggested Neolithic haplogroups are rare while Palaeolithic haplogroups are frequent.

The possible ethnic differences we are dealing with here may actually represent groups of proto-Sami and protoScandinavians; proto-Norwegians in central Norway. On the other hand, the lack of similarities between the Northern rock imagery at most sites indicates that these proto-Sami formed small, rather isolated groups between which there was little contact. Yet they all primarily focused on cervids and, along the coast, primarily on whales. Hansen (1906) linked the Southern Scandinavian rock art tradition to the Aryan (Indo-European) speaking Norwegians and the Northern tradition to an original nonAryan speaking population. At that time, scholars believed that the Sami immigrated to northern Scandinavia much later. Evidence of large-scale immigration during the Holocene has not been identified, but during the Late Neolithic Scandinavia came under strong influence from European Neolithic cultures, with the spread of farming along the central and north Norwegian coast as one result. Prescott and Walderhaug (1995) and Østmo (1996) saw this phase as the time and situation when the Indo-Europeanisation of large parts of the Scandinavian Peninsula probably took place. If we link the two main Scandinavian rock art traditions to this process, it must have started much earlier since Northern rock art began to be made already in the Late Mesolithic.

Material and visual culture as well as genetic studies demonstrate the relevance of studying the rock art in northern Scandinavia from an ethnic perspective, but the material can be sorted into different entities at several levels, which makes it difficult to link these entities with present ethnic groups. Looking at rock art alone, we have the main division between the Northern and Southern Scandinavian traditions, and a division between western and eastern subtraditions. Malmer (1981) demonstrated the existence of differences between east and west for the Southern Scandinavian rock art tradition, too. In addition, we may distinguish between the foci on large numbers of carvings at Alta, Nämforsen and Vingen compared with the more dispersed distribution in the Trondheimsfjord area and along the coasts. Furthermore, we should note the apparent lack of contact between the different rock art regions (as evidenced by how the images were drawn) and between sites within each region. If each of these patterns represents different groups, the social and cultural relationships between these groups must have been extremely complex. Perhaps further studies of rock art combined with material culture and DNA studies can bring us a step further. At the end

As evidenced by the presence of Southern Scandinavian tradition symbols at Nämforsen, people from both sides of this border zone came together. On a smaller scale, this could be the case at Evenhus, too, Trondheimsfjord acting as a local border zone where farmers began placing their own symbols close to their cultivated land (Sognnes 2001). The Nämforsen record may also represent contact with people coming across the Baltic. The situation may have been similar in Alta. Southern Scandinavian symbols are found in Alta, but in general the Alta record deviates from the record found further south. This record probably shows contact with groups living further east.

My starting point for this study was the currently known record, around 700 Northern tradition rock art images in central Norway, which are found at 50 sites, the number of panels being considerably higher. After working on and off with this record for 35 years, visiting virtually all known panels, I have found former classifications and analyses of the record to be inadequate and eventually came to develop a new way of deconstructing and analysing the zoomorphic images; cervids in particular. The local topography, including the rock faces, represents a second starting point. I have not, however, focused on chronology, but have looked into the record from a synchronic rather than a diachronic perspective.

The situation is different on the west coast where there is a void area between Vingen and Ausevik and the sites at Romsdalsfjord. Between these sites lies Stad, a headland that is one of the most dangerous parts of the Norwegian

An important part of my work has been to demonstrate that systematic analyses and comparative studies of the


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway images are still relevant for further studies of rock art. I question most work by my predecessors regarding ‘styles’, but this does not mean that I reject the relevance of the ‘style’ concept or find it without interest. Here, however, I decided to focus on other topics that, in general, have played modest roles in the more than a century-old discourse. Perhaps the most important conclusion from this work is that I found most previous comparisons between images and sites to be of little relevance; most postulated contacts (as evidenced by rock art) between sites and regions are non-existent.

is a universal phenomenon. But it was not made everywhere. The making of images and symbols on rocks must have been initiated by societal causes, in the case of Northern rock art changes taking place within and between local and regional groups. These changes were not manifested in the same way everywhere. We find small, scattered Northern rock art sites along parts of the Norwegian coast, whereas numerous carvings were made in a barren landscape at Vingen. Similar situations are found in Alta and at Nämforsen. These three sites are on the outskirts of the Northern rock art area in Scandinavia and may represent ‘entrances’ to this region, Vingen in the southwest, Nämforsen in the southeast and Alta in the north. These large sites are anomalies that cannot alone explain the general pattern. Apparently they represent places where people from large areas came together. To some extent, we may use this model for central Norway, too, but here we find no large regional meeting place; rather we find a series of sites that may represent smaller, local meeting places.

In addition to the images, I have based this study on two more strands, the location of sites and panels and the idea that panels and images represent encounters involving rocks, people and animals, the last-mentioned being symbolically present. This has opened for perspectives that normally are ignored and may also lead to more holistic overall interpretations, as is exemplified by the discussion of the fragmentary (as I see it) religion-based interpretations hitherto presented. However, I cannot here present an alternative holistic model that covers all aspects of Northern rock art. Too many basic questions still remain unanswered, some of which probably will remain so, including the most basic question of all: why did people start to make what we today call rock art?

My conclusions may seem to be speculations rather than conclusions based on solid evidence. These speculations show, however, that the relationship between rock art and people can be interpreted in many ways. One of my conclusions therefore is that a single interpretation alone can explain neither the existence of Northern rock art nor the many ways the motifs were drawn.

Furthermore, why was rock art, here exemplified by the Northern tradition, made in certain regions and not in others? Rock art was made all over the world. As such, it



This catalogue contains short descriptions of the forty sites with Northern rock art presently known in central Norway. Basic references are also given. Some sites (for instance, Bøla) are referred to in many monographs and articles, but only the basic works in which the sites were documented, mostly by means of tracings, are listed here. Gjessing (1936) described around one-third of the sites. Hallström’s (1938) work covered the same sites, but he ended his fieldwork around 1920 and he based his work on Gjessing’s monograph for the later discoveries.

geometric pattern without any known parallels. This pattern consists of straight and curved lines together with cupules surrounded by ovals to which are added shaftlike protrusions. Kleiva (2006) compared these panels with images found at Bogge and Rødsand. The cup and ovals at Bogge I, however, resemble designs found on a Bronze Age ship carving at Bakkehaugen in Bohuslän, Sweden (Coles 2005, 29).

Most sites found later are documented in the same way, but are presented in local periodicals and report series (chapter 1). These publications frequently cover only one site. Unfortunately, some recently discovered sites have not yet been documented in the same way. Some smaller sites have been presented in the popular magazine SPOR, which is being published by the NTNU Museum.

[3] Bogge, Nesset

References: T. Petersen 1939; Ramstad 2000; Kleiva 2006; Stebergløkken 2016

Northern rock art has been known from Bogge Farm since 1890 (Figure 4). At least five panels form a cluster on the south-facing shore of Eresfjord, the innermost part of Romsdalsfjord. Hallström identified three panels with Northern carvings, while Gjessing described only two. Hallström also mentioned three panels with Southern Scandinavian tradition carvings, but these have since been covered with soil. Further down towards the fjord is a panel (Bogge III) with Southern Scandinavian tradition carvings.

The numbers in this catalogue are identical to those in Table I. For the sites investigated by Gjessing (1936), I refer to the photographs and tracings presented in his book. For the sites discovered later, I normally include parts of the tracings here, but for some smaller panels the whole tracing is published. References are given for all the published sites.

The main panel (Bogge I), which is on a dome-shaped outcrop, consists of a broad belt with small quadrupeds that probably depict red deer, and also a large ‘naturalistic’ elk (Figure 21). A great variety of drawing methods are seen on this panel, and they represent a high level of sophistication and ingenuity; some may even be called experimental. Bogge II is on a steeply sloping panel some metres below Bogge I, and contains whales and quadrupeds. Bogge IV is at the inner edge of a narrow terrace west of Bogge I. Hallström identified one quadruped on this panel. Analyses of some quadrupeds are found in Figure 40.

Møre and Romsdal [1] Reiten (Reitaneset), Midsund Two rock carvings are found on the vertical front side of a large, horizontal stone at Reiten Farm near the east end of the island of Otterøy. The panel faces Romsdalsfjord. It is difficult to identify the motifs, but they probably depict a bird and a seal, respectively (Figure 102). References: Møllenhus Stebergløkken 2008; 2016




References: Ziegler 1901; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Ramstad 2000; Kivikäs 2003; Gjerde 2010; Stebergløkken 2010; 2016

[2] Bjørset (Storvika), Molde [4] Søbstad, Averøy In the late 1930s, two engraved boulders were discovered at Bjørset Farm in the western outskirts of the town of Molde, near the northern shore of Romsdalsfjord (Figures 62 and 103). Bakka later documented the panels and Ramstad (2000) published an account of them. Two possibly incomplete whale images are carved on the Bjørset II boulder, while Bjørset I has an intricate

Rock carvings were discovered on two vertical, undulating, apparently well-preserved panels at Søbstad Farm in the mid-1960s. Both panels are dominated by whale images, but some geometric patterns are found, too (Figure 104). Later some geometric images were found on a rock between the two panels with whales.


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway References: Møllenhus 1968a; Sognnes 1996; Ramstad 2000; Kleiva 2006; Sørensen 2008: Stebergløkken 2008; 2016 [5] Rødsand, Averøy Another Northern rock art site was discovered in the mid1990s on the island of Averøy. These panels on Rødsand Farm are at the foot of Rødsandberget, a hill facing Bremsnes sound. Whales and quadrupeds, most likely cervids (Figure 104), are found here, but one image has strange horns, which are not known from any animals now living in Norway (Figure 26). There are also some small geometric designs and a larger framed group of parallel zigzags. A small whale is placed within a larger one. The site consists of four panels covering a total length of 30 m. Some of the quadrupeds are analysed in Figure 39.

Figure 102. Tracing of rock carvings at Reiten in Midsund (after Møllenhus 1964).

References: Sognnes 1996; Ramstad 2000; Sørensen 2008; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016 [6] Honnhammaren, Tingvoll The rock paintings at Honnhammaren Farm were the very first to be noticed in present-day Norway. Gerhard Schøning, a historian, was informed about their existence in 1773 (Schøning 1778). However, he believed that red lines on the rock were natural, formed by geological processes.

Figure 103. The Bjørset I boulder, Molde (tracing by E. Bakka).

The farm is located on the east side of Tingvollfjord. The paintings are on vertical panels at the back of narrow ledges. The around twenty panels discovered so far can be sorted into four clusters, one on Hinna, a headland that marks the southern boundary of the farm, and three on Honnhammarneset, a headland that marks the northern boundary. Two panels are under narrow rock shelters, the others are on vertical panels, open to sun and rain. Today, many images are vague and difficult to see. The Honnhammar I rock shelter (Figure 84) is farthest south on the farm, and contains paintings of zoomorphs and some geometric designs. Three boat images made by scratching away some of the paint, were identified recently. Closer to the sea, Hallström identified paintings on four small panels on the same outcrop (Honnhammar II, VI, VIII and IX). Honnhammar VIII contains an image that may depict a shaman (Figure 93B).

Figure 104. Tracing of whale carvings at Søbstad, Averøy (after Sognnes 1996).

The dominating panel at Honnhammarneset is Honnhammar III, which is on a large, vertical rock face with four salmon, each of which are more than 1 m long (Figure 10). Large spots (paint or concretions) with different shades of red cover the lower part of the panel. Neither Hallström nor Gjessing documented these patches. However, a Finnish rock art specialist, Kivikäs (2009, 87), and Linge (2014) did so. While experimenting with digital colour enhancing, the present author discovered a vertical band consisting of parallel zigzags, apparently superimposed by two of the fish. Several small panels have since been identified near this panel.

Of special interest is a panel discovered in the late 1980s at the southern end of the headland. This panel is only a little more than 1 m high and contains zoomorph paintings of a kind not known before. Later, Linge (2014) discovered more panels with paintings at the northern end of the Honnhammarneset headland. Some of the quadrupeds are analysed in Figure 41. References: Bendixen 1879; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Kivikäs 2003; 2009; Norsted 2006; Smiseth 2007; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016; Gjerde 2010; Linge 2014; Nash and Smiseth 2015.


Catalogue close to the shore near the small town of Surnadal. This was clearly not the original location of this boulder, which was also marked by recent carvings; it was probably moved during construction work on land belonging to Sylte Farm on which the central part of the town is located. The apparently original images depict two anthropomorphs and a triangular design (Figure 106). The boulder is now at the local folk museum. References: Kleiva 1999; Stebergløkken 2016 Sør-Trøndelag [9] Nerhol, Oppdal Figure 105. Tracing of part of the Rødsand I panel on Averøy (after Sognnes 1996).

Two small panels with rock paintings are found 300 m apart, close to the River Driva. Today, a bridge crosses the river between Nerhol and Ishol Farms, halfway between the panels, Nerhol I upstream and Nerhol II downstream from the bridge, both on the northern bank. Nerhol I is under a shallow rock shelter, Nerhol II on a vertical rock face around 12 m directly above the river (Figure 57). Some ‘recent’ paintings are also found on Nerhol I. The images at Nerhol include an elk and an anthropomorph (Figures 5 and 93A). References: Sognnes 2007; Stebergløkken 2016 [10] Stykket, Rissa

Figure 106. The author’s tracing of the carvings on the Sylte boulder in Surnadal.

Northern carvings were discovered near the south end of the Fosen peninsula in the late 1970s less than 50 m from the houses of Stykket Farm and less than 5 m from an old road. The carvings were, however, covered by a thicket of trees and bushes. The almost vertical panel contains five zoomorphs, the most spectacular being a more than full-scale elk head (Figure 99). The panel faces Trondheimsfjord and has a wide view over the Korsfjord basin as well as the mouths of the Orkdal and Gaulosen tributary fjords. The quadrupeds are analysed in Figure 43. References: Sognnes 1981; Gjerde 2010; Steberg-løkken 2016

Figure 107. The author’s tracing of the carvings on the Rein boulder in Rissa.

[11] Rein, Rissa [7] Havdalen, Tingvoll Rein Farm lies to the north of Stykket, the infields on these neighbouring farms being separated by an extensive forested area. In the early 1970s, carvings were discovered on a boulder when land was being cleared for cultivation. The boulder is now displayed at the NTNU Museum in Trondheim. It contains two small elk, zigzags and a single-line anthropomorph (Figure 107).

Havdalen Farm is about 5 km south of Honn-hammaren. Painted red lines are found on a large boulder near a path running parallel to Tingvollfjord. Another boulder lies on the top of this one, making the site most peculiar. No identifiable image can be discerned, but vague lines may be interpreted as parts of a boat image. Whether this possible image belongs to the Northern tradition is uncertain, but since no Southern tradition paintings are known in this area, it is included here as a potential Northern painting.

References: Gaustad 1976; Stebergløkken 2016 [12] Heggvik, Bjugn Rock paintings were found at Heggvik Farm in the late 1990s. The farm is located on the north side of Stjørnfjord, a tributary fjord near the mouth of

[8] Sylte (?), Surnadal In the mid-1990s, rock carvings were found on a boulder


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway Trondheimsfjord. Remnants of two paintings were found on a vertical panel that looks like a door into the rock (Figure 100). The panel overlooks the fjord. References: Myrholt 2008; Norsted 2010b; Stebergløkken 2016 [13] Varghiet (Almfjellet), Bjugn In the mid-1920s, rock paintings were found on both sides of Gjølgavatn, a lake in the interior of the Fosen peninsula. They are on a headland at Almfjellet on Varghiet Farm on the north side and on another headland at Raudhammerfjellet across the lake, on land belonging to Gjølga Farm. At Almfjellet, images have been identified on several small panels at different heights above the lake (Figure 60). A short runic inscription has been identified, too. The main panel contains an elk and an anthropomorph. This site and that at Raudhammerfjellet can only be reached by boats or rafts. However, narrow ledges emerge when the water level is low, making it easy to land and work at the sites. The situation must have been the same during the Late Mesolithic and Neolithic, but the lake was part of a narrow fjord during the Early Mesolithic.

Figure 108. The main image at Mølnargården (author’s photo).

References: T. Petersen 1926; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Kivikäs 2003; Gjerde 2010; Myrholt 2008; Stebergløkken 2016

Figure 109. The author’s tracing of the fish painting at Teksdal in Bjugn.

[14] Gjølga (Raudhammerfjellet), Bjugn A vertical panel covered by red concretions is located at the foot of Rauhammerfjellet. T. Petersen identified some possible man-made images on this panel. These identifications may be questioned, but during a test of a colour enhancing computer program, I found some lines that deviate from the colour of the concretions. References: T. Petersen 1926; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Myrholt 2008; Stebergløkken 2016 [15] Ervik, Bjugn In 1959, a Mrs. Myrenget told the DKNVS museum curator Sverre Marstrander that she had seen a stone with rock carvings at Ervik Farm, on the south side of Bjugnfjord, a tributary to Trondheimsfjord near its mouth. She described an elk and a boat.

region. The panel is on the north side of Bjugnfjord, across the fjord from Ervik.

[16] Mølnargården, Bjugn

References: Myrholt 2008; Stebergløkken 2016

A large, incomplete painting apparently depicting a silhouette elk was found on a vertical cliff in the late 1990s (Figure 108). The entire trunk appears to have been painted, which is unique among Norwegian rock paintings. Cracks and fissures divide the cliff into a number of panels on which small, indistinct paintings are found. The site is around 70 m above sea level at the inner end of a large terrace. Based on the Holocene land uplift, this potentially makes it the oldest rock art in the

[17] Teksdal, Bjugn

Figure 110. The author’s tracing of Hommelvik II.

In the early 1960s, a panel with rock paintings was discovered at Teksdal Farm (Møllenhus 1964). The panel faces east, towards the mouth of the River Teksdal that forms the lower part of the watercourse which also includes a lake, Gjølgavatn. An image depicting a salmon (Figure 110) is found together with some lines, some of which may belong to two more salmon.


Catalogue promontory facing a lake, Stordalsvatnet. Th. Petersen excavated part of this shelter, finding an up to 70 cm thick occupation layer, but no artefacts (Figure 66). In 1994, the author performed a new excavation and collected a systematic series of charcoal samples, some of which have been dated. The images are fragmentary, but one fairly well preserved elk image was found. Later, it was demonstated that this image was superimposed on an engraved boat image. Two humans carrying spears were also found to be standing in the boat and the remnants of an engraved whale were found in front of the boat (Figure 95). Figure 111. Tracing of the carvings at Lånke II (after Sognnes 1982).

References: T. Petersen 1932; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Myrholt 2008; Stebergløkken 2008, 2016; Lindgaard 2009; Norsted 2010a; Sognnes 2015 [19] Strand, Osen The Strand site is located on the narrow Osenfjord in the northern part of the Fosen peninsula, facing the Norwegian Sea. The site offers a wide view of the fjord. The lower part of the vertical panel was covered with scree when the carvings were found. The carvings form two parallel rows. The panel is dominated by a large whale image (Figure 51D) and some framed geometric designs. References: T. Petersen 1930; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Stebergløkken 2008, 2016

Figure 112. Carvings at Berg IIIA (tracing by E. Bakka 1975).

[20] Hommelvik, Malvik Two small panels with carvings were found in the 1970s in a densely populated area on the steep eastern side of Hommelvik, a bay some kilometres west of the mouth of the Stjørdal valley. Birds and boats are found on Hommelvik I, while Hommelvik II has two large fish, probably halibut (Figure 110). References: Sognnes 1994; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016 Nord-Trøndelag

Figure 113. Tracing of whales at Skjevik I (after Bakka and Gaustad 1975).

[21] Hell, Stjørdal The Hell site was discovered in the 1890s and has been documented several times during the last century. The carvings, which were incised into the rock, are on the southwestern side of Steinmohaugen, a hillock south of the mouth of the Stjørdal valley (Figure 82). Two fullsized reindeer are carved on a vertical panel (Figure 22) and some smaller images are engraved on a ledge below this panel. These lower carvings were not noticed until 1930. Four quadrupeds are analysed in Figure 43.

A potential panel is found on the north side of Teksdalsvatn, a lake situated between the sea and Gjølgavatn. It is, however, uncertain whether this panel contains any images. References: Møllenhus 1964; Myrholt 2008; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016 [18] Vasstrand (Sandhalsen), Åfjord

When Steinmohaugen emerged from the sea, it formed an islet separated from the mainland by a 200 m wide sound that was eventually connected to the mainland by a narrow ridge of land.

Rock paintings were found in two interconnected rock shelters at Sandhalsen, on Vasstrand Farm, in the late 1920s. The shelter is near the end of Sandhalsen, a


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway References: Lossius 1899; T. Petersen 1931; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Sognnes 1981; 1994; Kivikäs 2003; Gjerde 2010; Stebergløkken 2016

valley. Around 100 carvings were found on a gently sloping panel (Figure 96). Many are superimposed, others appear to be incomplete, and the central part of the panel (Holte I) gives the impression of a palimpsest of lines and images. Several of the quadrupeds are analysed in Figure 45.

[22] Lånke, Stjørdal The rock carvings at Lånke Farm were discovered in the early 1980s at the foot of the western side of the crescentshaped Tønsåsen ridge (Figure 59). Five panels were identified on steep panels above an ancient riverbed formed by the River Leksa. During the Stone Age, Tønsåsen rose directly from the sea forming a promontory between the Stjørdal valley and a branch valley, Leksa. Motifs are elk and (probably) other quadrupeds, birds, whales, fish and some geometric designs (Figure 111). Large parts of this side of the hill consist of coarse conglomerate, and the carvings are on pockets of matric in between conglomerate clasts.

In the late 1970s, a second panel (Holte II) was found in a dense wood at the foot of the valley side. This panel contains a few incomplete carvings. References: Møllenhus Stebergløkken 2008; 2016




[27] Gangstad, Inderøy A small panel with badly damaged carvings is found at Gangstad Farm on Inderøy, a former island in Trondheimsfjord, now part of the mainland. Some curved lines that might be parts of the legs of cervids are found, together with an oval image. The lines, which run perpendicular to the structure of the rock, are too long to be parts of stems and sterns of Bronze Age boat images.

References: Sognnes 1983; 1994; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016 [23] Evenhus, Frosta Rock carvings were found in 1917 at Evenhus Farm, near the end of the long, narrow Frosta peninsula. T. Petersen investigated the site on several occasions, identifying 5 or 6 panels. Motifs are elk, whales, boats, cup-marks and rings (Figure 20). Both Northern and Southern tradition carvings are found, the cup-marks and rings apparently being integrated among the Northern ones.

References: Stafseth 2006; Stebergløkken 2016 [26] Berg, Verdal Northern carvings were found on Berg Farm on the south side of the Verdal valley in the early 1970s. Two Southern Scandinavian panels (Berg I-II) had already been known on another part of the farm for some time. Unfortunately, the new discovery took place in gardens surrounding newly built houses. Some ‘windows’ in lawns, etc. that covered the bedrock were opened and more carvings were discovered. Several more panels probably exist and this may be the largest site in central Norway containing large ‘naturalistic’ animals (Figure 112).

Until the Bronze Age, the outer part of the promontory formed an island separated from the mainland by a shallow sound, the rock art site being located near the eastern end of this island. The carvings are found on two outcrops separated by a narrow cleft. Part of the rock was blasted before the carvings were discovered. One block with a boat image was lost. Five of the quadrupeds are analysed in Figure 44.

References: Sognnes 2010; Stebergløkken 2016 References: T. Petersen 1922; 1926; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Sognnes 1994; 2010; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016; Gjerde 2010

[28] Selset (Kvennavika), Inderøy Selset is on the west side of the narrow Skarnsundet, the sound that links the Beitstadfjord and the main Trondheimsfjord basins (Gjessing 1936, T. Petersen 1931). When the sea was higher, the cove where the site is located was the only suitable harbour along this sound, which has strong tidal currents. Twelve images of fish, flounders or halibut, are engraved on a small outcrop (Figure 24).

[24] Revlan, Frosta A panel with Southern Scandinavian carvings was found at Revlan Farm on the southeastern side of the Frosta peninsula in the 1960s. It is dominated by boat images, but some of these are superimposed on a small, incomplete, contoured cervid that probably belongs to the Northern Scandinavian tradition.

References: T. Petersen 1931; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Sognnes 2006; Stafseth 2006; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016; Gjerde 2010

References: Sognnes 1981; Stebergløkken 2016 [25] Holte (Holtås), Levanger

[29] Hammer, Steinkjer Rock carvings were found at Holte Farm when a sharp bend on the trunk road then linking south and north Norway was going to be removed. A new stretch of road was eventually constructed on the opposite side of the

Rock carvings at Hammer were reported a century ago. The panel in question (Hammer I) came to play an important role in debates on Norwegian rock art during


Catalogue the twentieth century. The reason for this is the mixture of Northern and Southern motifs. A frieze of birds is located above a frieze with late boat images, horses, etc. K. Rygh claimed that the upper images were made when the sea level was higher, either by people standing in a boat or on ice in wintertime. It was thus seen as confirmation for this rock art having been shore bound.

References: Lossius 1896; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Stafseth 2006; Sognnes 2008a; 2010; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016 [32] Homnes, Steinkjer Two small panels were found at a site called Skotrøa on Homnes Farm in the early 1930s (Gjessing 1936). Like at the nearby Bardal and Hammer farms, both Northern and Southern carvings are found. The Northern carvings are, however, strongly weathered and incomplete (Gjessing 1936, Plate LXIX).

For decades, this panel remained the only one known on Hammer Farm, but in the late 1940s the landowner Ole Folden started to find new panels, which were eventually investigated by Bakka (1988; Bakka and Gaustad 1975). Today, almost twenty panels are known, some of which contain only Northern carvings, some only Southern Scandinavian carvings and some have both traditions represented. Motifs are elk, birds, whales, bears and boats (Figure 23). The number of maritime motifs is exceptionally high, with around 40 whales and 60 bird images. More than 50 bird images are found on one panel (Hammer V) alone. The numbers of boat images and elk are high, too. Several quadrupeds are analysed in Figure 46.

References: Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016 [33] By, Steinkjer During fieldwork for his master thesis, an NTNU student discovered a number of engraved rhomboids together with a slim anthropomorph above By Farm. The vertical panel faces a narrow valley that, during the Stone Age, formed a narrow sound between Beitstadfjord and the then still existing ‘Snåsafjord’. Today, several lakes occupy this valley.

References: K. Rygh 1909; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Bakka and Gaustad 1975; Bakka 1988; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016; Sørgård 2009; Gjerde 2010

References: Stafseth 2006; Stebergløkken 2016 [30] Skjevik (Buavika), Steinkjer [34] Strinde and Bøle common land, Steinkjer In the early 1970s, a panel with carvings (Figure 113) was found on the neighbouring Skjevik Farm, some metres across the boundary between these two farms (Bakka and Gaustad 1975). This panel clearly should be seen as part of the Hammer cluster. However, at least one Northern boat image has been observed on farmland further east. Due to dense vegetation, the area has not been examined in detail.

During construction work for a mill dam in 1842, a fullscale engraved reindeer was found in the middle of a low waterfall on the River Bøla, on the south side of Snåsavatn (Figure 53). The image became known to the scholarly world half a century later (Figures 3 and 8). For more than a century, this reindeer image (Bøla I) resided in splendid isolation, but in the late 1960s the remains of another carving were found at the top of the same panel and a decade later an incomplete bear image (Bøla II) was found in the waterfall. A small elk image (Bøla III) was later found some 50 m upstream, and in 2001 some strongly weathered panels were found downstream from the reindeer. Fragments of cervid legs were identified on a strongly weathered panel (Bøla V), and two clusters of carvings were found on Bøla IV (Figure 114). Most of these carvings are weathered, too, but elk and birds were identified. Among these common motifs is a large anthropomorph standing on a ski, holding a rod in its hand (Figure 27), apparently superimposed on two small elk.

References: Bakka and Gaustad 1975; Stafseth 2006; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016 [31] Bardal, Steinkjer The main Bardal I panel (Figure 78), discovered in the mid-1890s, has played an important role in rock art studies in Norway. The panel is large and has many carvings belonging to both the Southern Scandinavian and Northern traditions, with numerous superimpositions, always with Southern Scandinavian carvings being superimposed on Northern ones. Unfortunately, most Northern carvings are strongly weathered and hence incomplete (Figure 7). A series of shallow depressions forming two converging rows crosses the southwestern part of the panel (Figure 64).

References: Lossius 1897; Hallström 1907; 1938; Gjessing 1936; Midbøe 1970; Stafseth 2006; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016; Sørgård 2009; Gjerde 2010; Sognnes 2011

A decade later, some Southern Scandinavian panels were found around 800 m northeast of Bardal I, near the path along the foot of a ridge, Bardalshalla, and in the early 1930s a small Northern panel (Bardal III, then called Lamtrøa) was found nearer to Bardal I. A selection of quadrupeds is analysed in Figure 47.

[35] Horjem, Snåsa At Horjem Farm, near the inner end of Snåsavatn, two engraved panels were discovered during gardening in the early 1990s (Figure 115). The smaller panel (Horjem II)


The Northern Rock Art Tradition in Central Norway

Figure 114. Tracing of the carvings on the Bøla IVA panel (after Sognnes 2011).

Figure 117. Part of a tracing of the Reppen I panel (after Sognnes 1981).

Figure 115. Part of the author’s tracing of Horjem I.

Figure 118. Tracing of the Vistnesdalen I panel (after Sognnes 1989).

almost 600 m above sea level (Figure 116). The carving is close to a small waterfall on the right bank of the river (Figure 63). The site is located east of the watershed of the Scandinavian Peninsula, being part of the Hårkan/Inndalsälven drainage area in Jämtland, Sweden, where a number of rock art sites, both carvings and paintings, are found. References: Sognnes 2003b; Stebergløkken 2016 [37] Reppen, Fosnes Figure 116. The author’s tracing of the elk at Nykjønnan, Western Finnli common land.

During cultivation work at Reppen Farm on Salsneset peninsula in the outer Namdal district, the landowner decided to blast a large boulder found in the middle of the new field (Figure 79). In preparation for this, the boulder was tilted into an upright position. However, in favourable light conditions, the landowner discovered some engraved images on the top and sides of the boulder. The panel is dominated by small whale images, but also contains elk and fish images (Figure 117).

contains only one bird image, the larger panel (Horjem I) more than ten birds of various sizes. These carvings are strongly weathered. During the Neolithic, these panels were located close to the inner end of the ‘Snåsafjord’ basin. Today, the area is an important resting site for seasonally migrating geese. References: Stafseth 2006; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016

References: Sognnes 1981; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016 [36] Vestre Finnli common land Nordland

In the early 1990s, a solitary little elk carving was discovered during the elk-hunting season next to a small river linking the two small Nytjønnan lakes in Vestre Finnli State Common Land in the inner Namdal district,

[38] Vistnesdalen, Vevelstad In the late 1930s, rock carvings were found on two small


Catalogue serpentinite outcrops at Vistnesdalen Farm in Helgeland, southern Nordland, on the south side of the mouth of Vefsnfjord. They are on an undulating plain and are sheltered from the sea by a row of low hillocks (Figure 66). Many stray finds indicate that a large Neolithic slate industry habitation site is located on this plain.

When compared with images depicting skiers in other parts of northern Europe: Alta in Finnmark (Helskog 1988), the River Vyg in Russian Karelia (Sawwateyev 1977) and at Bøla (Figure 9, Figure 27), I believe these two images should be classified as Southern Scandinavian depictions of boats being paddled. A Northern-type boat is apparently part of a hunting scene. On board this boat is an anthropomorph which differs from all other known anthropomorphs on Northern boats. I therefore suggest that it is a later (Bronze Age?) addition.

Motifs found on the panels are elk and other quadrupeds, an anthropomorph, fish and geometric designs (Figure 118). Two footprints are found on the larger panel (Vistnesdalen II), indicating that both Northern and Southern motifs are present. A selection of quadrupeds is analysed in Figure 49. References: Lund 1941; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016



References: T. Petersen 1930; Gjessing 1936; Hallström 1938; Sognnes 1985; 1989; Stebergløkken 2008; 2016

1989; [40] Remmen, Leirfjord Incisions were noticed on a stone slab found in a large slate complex habitation area and the slab was therefore taken to the NTNU Museum in the 1970s. Later, it was discovered that some of the incised lines were part of an elk image.

[39] Rødøya, Alstahaug Rock carvings were found on the island of Rødøya at the mouth of Vefsnfjord in the late 1920s. Motifs are whales, elk, a seal and a boat along with two images that have been said to be skiers (Figure 6). However, Hallström disagreed with this identification, claiming that they depicted boats being paddled.

References: Sognnes 1985; Stebergløkken 2016



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