Bow offering

Tip of bow stake

Finely sharpened tip of a bow stake. Below the actual tip, there is a notch for attachment of the bowstring. During the Stone Age, the bow was the ultimately most important hunting weapon: bow and arrow were indispensable when hunting for both big and small game.


Bow found jammed vertically into a peat layer and subsoil clay. Could it be a possible offering? Archaeologists made a unique and exciting find in October 2013 during excavation of a Stone Age village.


Locality rich in finds.

Even at the beginning of the excavation, it was clear that this was going to be a locality that would be rich in finds. During the stripping of top soil, the gyttja layer at the bottom was revealed, which is an old seabed with large numbers of, among other things, horizontal and upright sharpened wooden stakes, flint tools, bone tips, pottery fragments and wooden fishing spears.


Archaeologists at work

Archaeologists from Museum Lolland-Falster busy excavating exciting finds from the Stone Age


During the excavation of the many upright stakes, which had been driven into the sea/lagoon bed during the Stone Age as parts of so far not quite recognisable facilities, maybe fishing facilities, remains were also found of a bow that had been placed vertically in the subsoil.


"At last, I have found something exciting"

In October, the excavation activities had already been going on for several months, and interesting Stone Age finds were discovered every day. "I just wasn't among the lucky finders," says Archaeologist Erling Mario Madsen.


"It was like any ability or luck in making good finds had simply left me, and on that very day in October it was clear to me that I felt I would soon find something good. During the excavation of an upright wooden stake that did not look impressive at all, there wasn't much to indicate that it was anything special. The stake was measured, photographed and drawn in profile, but when it was picked up, we realised that what we had found were the remains or a piece of a bow. It was one tip or end of a bow stake. After the actual tip, there is a notch for attachment of the bowstring."


Documentation of the bow before being removed

The bow is registered, documented, measured, described and photographed before being removed.


Offering, coincidence or practical re-use?

The most exciting thing about the find of the bow piece is actually the context in which it was found, or rather, its location. Why had it been stuck into the ground as an ordinary stake in the water off the coast?


Is it an old, no longer useful bow that has been used as a stake in some form of facility? Or could it be a case of a ritual action? The way in which it has been pressed into the subsoil, shows without any doubt that it was a deliberate action. Hopefully, we will get wiser about this as we continue to examine the area to the east of Rødbyhavn.


Three different sharpened stakes

Three different upright sharpened stakes. During the Stone Age, the stakes were pressed or driven deep into the subsoil clay. Such stakes may have been used for several different purposes. Some are included in fishing facilities. By Motala in Sweden, they have even found stakes with skulls.


Stone Age bows are known from several Stone Age localities, e.g. Holmegårds Mose bog on Zealand, Ringkloster in East Jutland, Tybrind Vig cove, Ronæs Skov woods in Gamborg fjord on West Funen, Maglemosegård farm in Vedbæk fjord and from Horsens fjord.

During the Stone Age, the bow was a very important tool. The Stone Age hunter would use bow and arrow to bring down his prey, which could be the big animals that were used for meat, e.g. red deer.  Antlers from such red deer have been found in the locality.