Ronneberg Family Website

The Gift from America

The following article appeared in the first issue in of the Publication for TheArcheological Association of Rogaland, Stavanger Museum, Stavanger, Norway – 1970.
Translated into English by Jens E. Rønneberg, Norway
21 November 1972

It is not every day that The Collection of Ancient Items receives an addition all the way from America. But this happened here one day right before Christmas.

Here is the story: Once around 1920 the Norwegian-American, Trygve Rønneberg, was visiting the old country, and as a souvenir from his home place, he brought back to San Francisco some rocks—a rock club and two spinning wheels, all found at Røyneberg at Sola. He guarded his rocks, and after his death, the rocks came into the hands of his son, Terres. For a few years the rock club and two spinning wheels remained on the shelf above the fireplace at 38 Mariner Green Drive, Corte Madera, California. The wife in the house several times wanted to throw these rocks away, but somehow they remained on the shelf until Terres’s cousin, Mossi Nilsen, from Oslo, came for a visit last fall. At that time, the family agreed that perhaps these items ought to be sent back to Norway. And Mrs. Nilsen was willing to bring back the rocks. She delivered them to The Collection of Ancient Items at the University of Oslo who sent them on to Stavanger.

And today, after fifty years, the rocks are back in the district where they belong. Unfortunately, we don’t know how and where they were found at the farm.

The rock club is a so-called “shaft club”, made from an oval rolling stone from fine corned granite. Around the center of the rock is carved a gutter to mount the handle, and this made the rock into an effective tool. It would be difficult to make it any simpler. One can, also, see that the club has been used by the wear on both ends.

Such clubs, so simple and formed by nature’s forces, have been found in many parts of the world, and from many different periods. Certain people have used these tools all the time until today. In Norway, they are very common in north Norway and in Trondelag. They are not very common in west Norway and in east Norway. They are mostly found in the upperparts of the valleys Trysil, Tolga and Kvikne. In Sweden, they are typical for the northern parts. Also, they have appeared east all the way through Siberia and ever-large parts of North America. They are also known from middle and south Europe. In Norway, they were particularly used during the young Stone Age.

But what were they used for? Primarily, it is natural to believe that they were tools for striking or hammering. They are not suited to cut. Where some people are still using these stones, they have various functions. Most often they are used as bone crushers as with the tsjuktsjers in Siberia. Other places they are used to crush shells or to crush eatable plants. Based on the above and their separation, G. Gjessing imagined that in the Norwegian Stone Age they were used as bone crushers, and this is also the name he gives to this tool. However, A. Bjørn had more of an imagination. He suggests that people perhaps killed large animals, which fell into the hunter’s traps, with these clubs.

The two spinning wheels we know were used as weights on the hand spinner. It is not uncommon to find two wheels in graves, very often shaped similar—one larger and heavier than the other. Probably, they were used to spin threads of different thickness and different material or to obtain a harder twist on the thread.

The pictured spinning wheels are made from serpentine with a green shade. They have a shiny, somewhat glassy surface. The shape is so simple that it has never changed through the times. It is impossible to attribute these spinning wheels to any other period other than the last centuries of the Iron Age.