Vestfold is Norway's smallest county and is located to the south of the capital Oslo. The county is characterised by large areas of arable land with patches of forests, interspersed with areas of exposed bedrock. In archaeological terms Vestfold is perhaps best known for the spectacular ship burials from Oseberg and Gokstad, as well as the high status burial mounds in Borre National Park and the Viking Age trading place at Kaupang. However, the area also lays claim to one of the highest densities of archaeological sites in Norway, spanning from the Neolithic to modern times. Although many of these sites have been recorded and excavated, the amount of crop–marks seen in both aerial photos and satellite imagery suggests that a large number of so far unrecorded archaeological sites still exist in areas of cultivated land. Vestfold's central position in the south–eastern part of Norway and its proximity to the capital means that there is a substantial pressure from infrastructural development, such as road–schemes, railway expansion and other forms of industrial development.

Furthermore, the areas along the coastal zones are popular holiday destinations facing considerable pressure from the development of leisure areas and holiday homes. Developing new, fast methods for mapping the archaeology of an area well ahead of the planning process is therefore of great importance for rescue archaeology and archaeological research alike. The developments fo the LBI ArchPro will provide archaeologists, researchers and developers with efficient tool for assessing the archaeology and its context, as well as developing plans for either investigating the archaeology or preserving it in situ. Within Larvik municipality, three main areas have been selected for testing. These are cultivated areas near the farms of Aske, Tjølling and Berg. These areas have been chosen based on their archaeological and historical background and potential, and cover various types of archaeology such as burial mounds, settlement traces and a medieval church site. Based on a very fruitful cooperation with the LBI ArchPro partners from NIKU and Vestfold fylkeskommune as well as other Norwegian archaeologists the case study areas in Vestfold have been extended to include the sites of Borre, Oseberg and Gokstad.

The most important aspect of the project will be to assess the suitability of geophysical prospection methods in Norwegian geological, archaeological and environmental conditions. Earlier geophysical archaeological prospection surveys conducted in the area have been promising and it is hoped that further experimentation with the methods will prove successful. The aim of the project will attempt to cover larger areas using motorised magnetometer and multi–channel GPR surveys. One of the many factors influencing the results from the geophysical surveys will be the soil conditions at the chosen test sites. For this purpose, a highly detailed soil map of the area has been acquired and will be used in close conjunction with the surveys. However, it is argued that in order to fully understand where and why archaeological prospection methods do or do not work, selected physical interventions will be necessary. This will, at a minimum, include trial trenches across some of the discovered anomalies down to the underlying subsoil. Additionally, the various soil conditions within the test areas will be tested in order to see whether there exists a correlation between the soils and the archaeological prospection results. To this purpose methods for fast soil analyses will be assessed during the course of the case study.

View a map of Vestfold.