English Summary

SAMHELL is a co-operation project between Sweden and Norway, and was carried out between May 2019 and September 2022, within the inter-regional co-operation programme Interreg Sweden-Norway and partly co-funded by the European Union. The aim of the Interreg programme is to tackle common challenges identified in the border regions through cross-border co-operation, and thus to utilize unused potential.

SAMHELL has been based on formal partnership between the County Administrative Board of Västra Götaland, the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage and Bergen University Museum. Project owners and managers have been the County Administrative Board of Västra Götaland in Sweden and the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage in Norway respectively. In addition, the project has co-operated with several regional and national partners such as Viken County Council and the Swedish National Heritage Board.

SAMHELL is an abbreviation for “co-operation towards preservation, visualization, documentation and dissemination of rock art” which also describes the overall aims of the project.

In the counties of (former) Østfold and Västra Götaland, the geographical region towards which SAMHELL has been directed, there are numerous traces of prehistoric activities, including Bronze Age rock art belonging to the period between 1800 – 500 BC. More than 5000 rock art panels and 75 000 individual images are found in this border area between Sweden and Norway. In the last decades of the 20th century, it became increasingly clear that many rock art sites are exposed to weathering and human activities which can cause destruction. In both Norway and Sweden several projects were carried out in order to study the causes and remedies against such degradation. One of these was the Interreg project ”Rock carvings in the Borderlands” which lasted from 1996 to 2000. Two decades later much has been achieved in the field of rock art and both Sweden and Norway have come a long way in terms of research, proper care and management of rock art. In Sweden this relates particularly to the development of techniques for non-harmful documentation of rock carvings through 3D scanning. Norway has come further in implementing sustainable and less harmful conservation and management methods, and in presenting rock art to the public using less invasive means. This was the background for the project SAMHELL, where cross-border learning and exchange of experience have laid the foundations for a lasting long-term cross-border co-operation.

Project objectives

The overall objectives of the project have been to establish:

  • Permanent cross-border collaboration on visualization, protection and preservation of rock art through proper management
  • Common routines and working methods (standards) for documentation, management and visualization of rock art
  • A common standardized 3D documentation method

To obtain these objectives the project has worked towards achieving three sub-goals:

  • Accumulating knowledge from the last 30 years of research on how to best preserve and care for rock art
  • Evaluating the different and non-harmful methods for making rock art available to the public
  • Evaluating development within 3D technology as a method of documenting rock art

Through common cross-border activities within SAMHELL we have increased our knowledge of the factors that impact rock art, and the measures and methods necessary to protect and preserve it. 3D recording of rock art using hand-held laser scanners has been carried out in both Norway and Sweden and several reports evaluating the various aspects and possibilities of this method have been produced.

In order to improve methods for presenting rock art to the public, SAMHELL has focused on development of on-site LED lighting and Gobo image projection, as well as developing means of dissemination through augmented reality (AR). The aim has been to make the rock art more accessible as well as to give the public a more authentic experience, while at the same time avoiding former invasive actions such as painting of the images.

The SAMHELL project has joined together existing networks on both sides of the border, leading to the establishment of a future cross-border co-operation within the fields of rock art research, documentation, public dissemination and management.