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1. ARCHAEOLOGICAL TOUR ALONG THE THORSBERG BOG

2. THE SETTLEMENTS

3. A SACRIFICIAL SITE WITH MILITARY GEAR IN NORTHERN GERMANY

Welcome to the archaeological tour of Süderbrarup! It is here that a little journey into the past begins, which carries you back into the time of the Roman Iron age.  This period was characterized by exchange, but also conflicts between the Romans and Germanic tribes like the Angles once living here. The explanatory tables along the loop trail shall help you to learn about this cryptic site. A presentation of the latest research results and the extraordinary artifacts found here constitute the major aspects of the tour. The historical background of the offerings is also indicated. The community of Süderbrarup hopes you enjoy an interesting walk around the Thorsberg bog!

The Süderbrarup area is home to a remarkable density of archaeological sites and was a special place within the Anglia landscape during the centuries after Christ. In addition to the Thorsberger Moor, several sometimes simultaneously used cemeteries and two settlement sites have been discovered. The largest burial ground, with 1234 known urn cremation graves, was situated below what is today the market square (Fig. 1.1) and was used from the first to the early sixth century A.D. Other burial sites are located to the west of the market square (Fig.1.2) and along the railway line (Fig. 1.3). The area of the nowadays biogas plant (Fig. 1.4) was the site of a settlement consisting of a complex of farm buildings.

The sacrificial spoils of war were ritual depositions of military and personal equipment as well as other objects that might have been used in military context. Such depositions are best known from the waters, lakes and bogs of central and northern Europe, where conditions favoured their preservation and discovery. These locations were presumably chosen because of the religious significance that they held at the time as “transitional zones”, representing a link between the earthly and divine spheres. A very sizeable sacrifice took place on the Thorsberger Moor sometime around the beginning of the 3rd century A.D. Two smaller deposits were made at the end of the 2nd century and around A.D.300.

4. WEAPONS AND OTHER MILITARY EQUIPMENT

5. EXCEPTIONAL FINDS

6. HORSE HARNESSES

Especially in the 3rd century A.D., the Thorsberger Moor served as a sacrificial site for the ritual deposition of weapons and other pieces of military equipment, typically of Germanic origin but at times also Roman. The low pH values of the bog ensured a wide range of conditions for preservation: non-ferrous and precious metals, as well as wood and leather, have all been well-preserved. In contrast, components made of iron, such as sword blades, were completely destroyed. In addition, many of the items deposited were intentionally destroyed, likely as a part of the rituals of the sacrifice ceremony. The wide variety of Roman militaria can be considered evidence that a small group of Germanic people served in the Roman army.

Archaeological finds of the Roman Iron Age in Northern Europe are evidence that outwardly visible status symbols played an important role in the society of that time. This was also true in the military environment: while a large proportion of the equipment was made of iron and was often considered low standard, objects made of non-ferrous and precious metals refer to individuals who occupied a higher status within societal hierarchies. Intricately-worked sword belts and horse harness provide evidence of higher ranking officials in the  Thorsberger Moor. Unique  finds are a silver facemask and two gilded, artistically decorated discs.

The horse harnesses from the  Thorsberger Moor belonged to the high-ranking mounted soldiers of the Germanic army units. Sophisticated equipment and magnificent adornments made of non-ferrous metal, silver and gold were testimony to their high rank. It was primarily the commanders of the Germanic armies who were mounted. No other find in all of Barbaricum that is, the region inhabited by what the Romans at that time termed “Barbarians”, on the other side of the limes – contains so many equestrian harness sets as were found at the Thorsberger Moor. They provided clear proof of the Roman influence on the form and construction of German harnesses that were used in armed conflicts.

7. THE THORSBERGER MOOR FIND SITE 8. PALAEOECOLOGICAL STUDIES AT THE THORSBERGER MOOR  
 
Once many extraordinary objects had come to light during the extraction of peat in the 19th century, theThorsberger Moor garnered the focus of the scientic community through the excavations of Helvig Conrad Engelhardt. Like a few other sites in Scandinavia, large numbers of weapons, personal equipment and horse harness were found here. In the meantime, these places have been identified as sites for the sacrifice of spoils of war. The majority of excavated objects are now kept at the Archaeological State Museum Schloss Gottorf (Gottorf Castle, Schleswig) and are part of the permanent exhibitions. The analysis of the peat and lake sediment layers of the Thorsberger Moor indicates changes of the appearance of the bog and its surroundings. Approximately 2.500 to 1.500 years ago, the site was a bog stocked with mosses and cotton-grass. The sacrificial depositions must have taken place in deeper waterholes within the bog. Settlement activities of varying intensity took place from the Neolithic period on, around 5.500 years ago.  
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