Gene Fornby - Genesmons arkeologiska friluftsmuseum
The Ancient Village of Gene - Genesmon Archaeological Open-Air Museum
Örnsköldsvik (Västernorrland county), SWEDEN
Gene Fornby (the ancient village of Gene) is an archaeological open-air museum located just outside Örnsköldsvik, a town in Västernorrland county, in northern Sweden, and featuring a reconstructed Iron Age settlement with a longhouse and a smithy. The earliest traces of human activity found in the area date back to the Nordic Bronze Age, but the settlement itself dates back to the Roman Iron Age and the Migration Period, from around the years 400-600 AD. the reconstruction is based on the excavation of a nearby ancient settlement on Genesmon in Gene (a village of the Själevad parish, part of the Örnsköldsvik municipality).
The site was uncovered during extensive archaeological excavations, which were conducted by the University of Umeå from 1977 to 1988 and revealed several burial mounds and a settlement of the Early Iron Age with various buildings including a forge, believed to have been one of the largest forge in prehistoric Scandinavia. Traces of iron production and processing were uncovered as well as bronze casting refuse and a textile workshop. In total, remains of at least 14 house foundations and a cemetery with 9 low burial mounds were found in the excavation area, while 4 more burial mounds are to be found about 50 meters away. 13 remains have been dated primarily to the Roman Iron Age and the Migration Period, and one house is from the 1200s. The graves in thE cemetery are believed to be those of chieftains from the years 100-600 AD.
In 1991 the foundation Gene fornby started to reconstruct the ancient settlement of Genesmon, about 500 m from the excavation site, focusing on the longhouse, and with the aim to show how the village most probably appeared during the period 400-600 AD, and to reflect the transition from the Roman Iron Age to the Migration Period. The venue opened in the same year and became soon a popular tourist attraction during the summer months. Unfortunately, the last ten years have witnessed an intense political debate on the ‘use’ of Gene Fornby. After several years of struggle the City Council of Örnsköldsvik has decided that the Municipality would take over and preserve the reconstructions of the longhouse and the smithy, developing the open-air museum into a natural and cultural resource, that could help also the regional and turistic development.
Today the facility is operated by the Örnsköldsvik Museum & Art Gallery, and all the houses are open to the public, and during the summer season also peopled by interpreters and living historians in period dresses. The full-scale longhouse and the smithy of Gene Fornby represent the major reconstructions, as well as the symbols of Örnsköldsvik’s very early history. Research and education are the key elements in the vision of the open-air museum management. The purpose of Gene is identity making, mainly concerning the children in the municipality, through education and entertainment. The research is also very important with both the university and the local museum being intensively involved.
Info & Contact
Genesmons Arkeologiska Friluftsmuseum
Location: Bäckagården, Domsjö, Sweden
Tel.: +46 0660 88600
Örnsköldsviks Museum & Konsthall
Address: Läroverksgatan 1- 891 33 Örnsköldsvik, Sweden
Tel.: +46 0660 88600
Images: Genesmons Arkeologiska Friluftsmuseum, Örnsköldsviks Museum & Konsthall
Text sources: EXARC, Örnsköldsvik Municipality, Wikipedia, Destination Höga Kusten
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