The Dead Next Door

From I was nine to nineteen, I lived on the wooden half of a former island studded with ancient burial mounds. It’s not hard to see why the place has always been inhabited: the soil is rich, there was game in the woods, fresh water and easy access to the sea.

As kids, we didn’t pay much attention to the mounds – we knew what they were, of course, but they were also excellent castles or houses when needed be, especially since the grave robbers of yore had left shallow pits in some of them, digging in to search for gold. To us, these pits became separate rooms and chambers in our woodland castles.

Most of the woods are gone now, chopped down to give way for a golf course. Though it’s sad, it has given the the old burial mounds new visibility: they are clearly marked and off limits for golfers. For kids too, which really is for the best…

In a WIP, I’m revisiting that old landscape, and since the world has moved on a little bit since I left, I decided to explore the area more throughout. There is an excellent Norwegian web site mapping archaeological finds, where you can search any area by address. It was no surprise, of course, that the search on my old home came up with many hits (the blue squares):

map big

What did come as a surprise, was how little I really knew. In one place, where I thought there were about two or three burial mounds, there were in fact at least thirteen; but they were overgrown or torn down, and thus very easy to miss. The biggest surprise, however was this one:

map marking

The text read (my translation):

A big stone-filled circle, abut 18 meters in diameter, 22 meters from the west wall on Bolling (the house where I grew up, ETA).

Burial mound.

Iron age, Bronze age

The text also noted that the the mound was in poor shape; scattered and overgrown.

… Which is why I never figured it was a burial mound. That place is right across the narrow dirt road from my mother’s house. The next door neighbor, so to speak. But we rarely ever went there. It was overgrown and hard to access, next to a field of wheat (now part of the golf course). This was farm land, after all, so I just always thought that all the rocks in there were from land clearing. Obviously, I was wrong…

I went back to see my mother during Easter, and had decided to have a peek at the newly discovered neighbor as well. On arrival, I was surprised to see that the woods surrounding it had been thinned out considerably, and now it’s not hard to see what it is anymore:


So there you have it… I grew up next to an ancient burial mound. No way I could go on to write about sunshine and pickles after that. It also, of course, makes me view that whole part of my childhood in a slightly different light – I would be me if it didn’t.

As for my WIP, the setting has certainly not become less interesting after this. Take that, Poltergeist!


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