“Hill Forts” - The Blessing and Curse of a Cultural Heritage Monument

Hill fort (bygdeborg) is a term which in Norway describes what has traditionally been interpreted as prehistoric defense installations or fortifications. The origin and function of these monuments has in recent decades been a topic for debate, as surveys show that what the term describes encompasses a wide range of archaeological and topographic features located in a variety of landscapes. Never-theless, documentation and interpretation of hill forts is largely governed by military explanation models. We recommend a stronger scientific approach to interpreting the full range of features, such as stoneworks, monoliths, and burial mounds, as well as other historic and prehistoric traces of human activity affiliated with these hilltop monuments. Archeologists should seek to reach out beyond the constraints of nomenclature when researching an equivocal monument that too long has been interpreted within the constraints of a narrow explanatory model.