Category Archives: Medieval churches

Going places

A constant in life is that time is passing – at present the days seems to go with the speed of light. Since a week back I’m part of the excavating crew at the E22 in Blekinge, in the south part of Sweden, still employed by Kalmar County museum. The excavation concerns several areas, among them several Mesolithic settlements and activity sites, and some later Stone Age burials, Iron Age burial sites etc., etc. Lots of exciting stuff – though this post is not about that.

This has though meant that I transferred my living quarters to Sölvesborg – a new town means new things to see – among them are two rune stones. One is placed inside S:t Nicholai church in Sölvesborg. the oldest parts are from the 13th century. Inside the church are several interesting paintings from the 15th cen

  

Back to the rune stones. Its not everyday you see rune stones from the 6th – 8th century, e.g. rune stones with runes from the older futhark, and fewer still that you see two.

Just outside the church is the rune stone DR 356 (Sölvesborg 18:1).

The inscription on the stone in the church is:

Orti Vað[i] [ept] Ásmund, son sinn.

English translation should read some like; Vaði wrought (in memory of ) Ásmundr, his son.

The other rune stone, DR 357 (Sölvesborg 18:2) is placed inside the church and has been moved to Sölvedborg from Gammeltofta parish and is called the Stentofta rune stone.

<niuha>borumz <niuha>gestumz Haþuwulfz gaf j[ar], Hariwulfz … … haidiz runono, felh eka hedra, niu habrumz, niu hangistumz Haþuwulfz gaf j[ar], Hariwulfz … … haidiz runono, felh eka hedra, ginnurunoz. Hermalausaz argiu, Weladauþs, sa þat, briutiþ.

English translation: (To the) <niuha>dwellers (and) <niuha>guests Haþuwulfar gave ful year, Hariwulfar … … I, master of the runes(?) conceal here nine bucks, nine stallions, Haþuwulfar gave fruitful year, Hariwulfar …

I’ll try to take a few hikes and see some more ancient monuments in Bleking the coming weeks, my current employment last till the end of September so its also time to look for new employments – I’ve been on a couple of interviews the last weeks so its possible that its soon time for a new move.

Magnus Reuterdahl

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4th annual archaeology seminar in Blankaholm

Michael Dahlin

This weekand we visited Blankaholm on the Swedish east coast for the Blankaholm seminars arranged by archaeologist and local resident Michael Dahlin, who is also the man behind the Swedish archaeology blog Misterhultaren.

All seminars are connected via the prehistory or history of the Swedish east coast, the themes are varied as well as the periods. All in all it was a very nice session with many nice meetings, new and old, and lots of information.

The previous three seminars are available in the books Forntiden längs ostkusten 1 (2010) and 2 (2011) (Ancient times along the east shores) both edited by Kenneth Alexandersson et al.

I will not go into detail on the seminars but only give a short recap of them to present what can be expected of the coming Forntiden längs ostkusten 3 and the 2012 seminars.

Day 1

The meeting started with a quick presentation of the seminars and Blankaholm by Michael Dahlin

Pierre Petersson

followed by a seminar by the same on the late Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements on the east coast of Småland. On surveys from the 30’s until today and future projects. The seminars continued by another Swedish archaeology blogger Pierre Petersson the man behind the blog AHIMKAR. In this seminar we move forward in time to the middle ages and thoughts on living conditions for the nobility and ordinary man. Pierre put forward an interesting example site Kläckeberga church, its surroundings and the findings that has been done via archaeological excavations etc. From the

Kenneth Alexandersson

middle ages we take a big leap back in time. Kenneth Alexandersson from Kalmar County museum presented the results from a settlement excavation just south of Kalmar airport. The expected finds was an Iron Age settlement but they found a Stone Age site dated to ca 9000 BP instead. After this we move north to the south of Norrland as Michel Guinard and Therese Ekholm presents the project Nordic Blade

Michel Guinard

Technology network which concerns the earliest habitants after the latest Ice Age. Two sites, one that has been situated in the inland and one by the coast are currently excavated by students and scientists. Larforsen is located in Hälsingland, dated to ca 7200 BC, and Torsåker in Gästrikland are several small settlements, dated to ca 8500-5000 BC. There are several specialists involved such as osteololgist Therese Ekholm who will study

Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay & Therese Ekholm

bones from the hearths looking at spices as well as dating. We return to Småland and hits the neolithics once again as Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay discuss the Funnelbeaker culture. The funnelbeakers are considered as the first real farmers in Sweden. Ludvig is working with materials from the island Öland in his post-doc research. Among them results from a settlement excavation at Resmo. The day ends with another fellow archaeology blogger Martin Rundkvist from Aardvarchaeology who spoke on projects done and projects to come concerning Bronze Age sacrifical deposits, in both wetlands and on human settlements, etc. His idea is to look for the sites found in the late 1800’s and first half of the 1900s and excavate these again. By categorize them due to location and natural features etc. create models to predict where to find new places. Almost all sites we know of today were found by framers while draining wetlands to create new farmland or working behind the plow seeing what it plowed up. This ended the sessions of day 1.

Martin Rundkvist

Day 2

Sven Gunnar Broström and Kenth Ihrestam

The day began with Kenth Ihrestam and Sven Gunnar Broström presenting their survey finds of Bronze Age rock art in Casmirsborg (MEM) some miles north of Västervik. During their latest surveys the number of known figures has increased from 13 to 175. They have found several large finds of ship carvings, people, foot soles, animals etc. From art to Claus Ruskas land transactions in the

John Hutto

Middle Ages. John Huttu described the way from middle class to the gentry, from the city to land ownership and what can be found in medieval diplomas. Tar production was probably a big deal during the middle ages – Veronica Palm from Kalmar County Museum and Västerviks

Veronica Palm

museum goes forward in time and tells a tale of a tar production site from the 18th century. The site was just outside of Målilla and excavated in 2010. Very nice findings and interesting results. Back to prehistoric times with Joakim Wehlin (sorry all pics were out of focus) who research ship settings on Gotland. There is a much larger material than I knew; in total 380 are known at Gotland whereof ca 100 are excavated. Joakim told us about an interesting excavation from this summer where they found a double grave in a small round stone setting just next to a ship setting. An interesting project to follow! Last speaker of the day was Rune Johansson who works as a nurse and are studying archaeology. He presented his thoughts on archaeology as a rehabilitation tool. As all people have a history most have a connection with the past and therefore it is a way to get people interested. There are also several things in archaeology that can be therapeutic, walks in woods, feeling artefacts, associations between artefacts and modern things, being part in projects such as digs etc.

Rune Johansson

I would like to thank all involved who made this a great weekend. I will be back 🙂

Magnus Reuterdahl



Excavation at Rissne on Swedish Radio

Currently I’m employed by Arkeologikonsult at the excavations of a grave field in Rissne, Stockholm. The grave field is from the late Viking Age or the early middle ages. The burials are mainly Christian, buried in coffins, but the graves have superstructures that are a relic of ancient burial forms, such as stone settings or mounds, and the dead are still buried at the farmstead grave field rather than at a cemetery by a church.

SR (Swedish Radio) program Vetenskapsradion history (Science Radio: History) has a report on the excavation on the show (in Swedish) under the title The Spectres at Rissne. Pictures from the excavation are available at Arkeologikonsults webpage.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Skokloster Abbey

A few days ago I wrote about a visit to Skokloster castle and published some photos, now it is time for some interior shots.

Sko church was built by the order of Cistercians as the nuns at Byarum in Smaland started to move to Uppland in the 13th century. It’s believed that work started ca 1230, ca 1280 is the inauguration of the high altar of the church, by then the nuns might have moved to Sko. As most medieval churches it has been added to, restored and changed over the centuries.

Skokloster kyrka interiör

Interior Skokloster Abbey

crucifix Skokloster kyrka

Crucifix, made of oak, mid-1200s.

Madonna, made of oak, the child’s head of hardwood, possible from Gotland, first quarter of the 1300s.

The Herman Wrangel monument in the grave Wrangelska choir. The sculpture is made by Daniel Anckermann (German) ca 1650.

Herman Wrangel golden armor

There are two artistic representations of the Battle of Gorzno in Skokloster Abbey, an oil painting and the stucco on the wall of the Wrangel tomb chapel.

The stucco is divided into a lower lot, where the battle scenes take place in a forest and river scenery, and a top where Swedish and Polish armies are seen in bird’s eye view, the Poles on the left and the Swedes on the right side. The stucco is based on a drawing preserved in the war archive, in Stockholm.

The information on the stucco is from an article in Fornvännen 1939 by Wilhelm Nisser; Daniel Anckermans stuckaturer i de Gyllenhemska och Wrangelska gravkoren (pdf in Swedish).

Magnus Reuterdahl


Summar vacation 2009 part 5; the grateful dead ed.

Ro (Rö) church, the oldest parts are from the 13th century, within the church are murals on the walls and on the roof from the 15th century, the latest addition the church is the choir, added in 1747. The church was restored in 1950-51.

 Rö church

Rö church 2

Notice the large buttresses, built during the 16th or 17th century due to a fire, on both the north and south walls of the church.

Rö church strävpelare

Roof and wall murals

 Rö church intriör

Rö church intriör 2

Rö church intriör 3

This one caught my eye it is an interesting mural with an unusual motive called the grateful dead. The mural a church with a high ring wall, outside of the wall are five knights and within the wall is one knight surrounded by the dead armed with farm tools. According to the medieval ledged the pious knight stops at the grave yard to pray for the dead every time he stops at one, when he gets in trouble the dead comes to his aid, in this case against the five persecuting knights. The motive can also be found in Yttergran and Roslagsbro churches. So now I know where to go on my excursion north of Stockholm.

 Rö church intriör 9

Wood sculptures

 Rö church intriör 5

Rö church intriör 7

Christ from 15th century and the cross ca 1950.

Rö church intriör 6

St Maria, 13th century, placed on the the left side of the cross in the choir.

Rö church intriör 4

St Erik, 15th century, right side of the cross in the choir

Rö church funt

The funt, ca 13th century

This is the third church within a rather small area with an odd bell tower, built 1806-1807, at Skedrid church it’s integrated to the gate building.   

 Rö church bell tower

Btw. still haven’t finished the Stockholm part of the vacation so there’s still a lot of pictures from Ostergotland, Smaland and Vastergotland to publish.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Summer vacation part 4

Skedrid church 1

Next stop, and I still haven’t come past last Saturday so there’s a lot more to come, is Skederids church in Finsta, by some believed to been built by Saint Birgitta’s father Birger Persson and became a stop for pilgrims. The oldest part of the church is from the last part of the 13th century and as most churches it has been added to and changed during the centuries.

Skedrid church 2

Skedrid church 3

Skedrid church 4

Skedrid church detail

 There is a walled in rune stone, unfortunately the photo was out of focus.

The bell tower, open for display, is placed within the gate (stigport) building.

Skedrid bell tower 1

Skedrid bell tower 3

Skedrid bell tower 4

Skedrid bell tower church bells

There are other places nearby that are also connected to Birgitta such a small cave or rather a rock formation called Birgitta’s prayer cave where, according to local mythology, Birgitta’s had her first revelation (No picture, sorry).

Magnus Reuterdahl


Summer vacation 2009 part 3

Still keeping it in Stockholm County we visited Frotuna (Frötuna) church. It’s a beautiful church that reveals several rebuilding phases seated by the shoreline of Kyrksjön (The Church lake).

Frötuna kyrka 1

The oldest parts are assumed to be from the 12th century, the choir was prolonged during the 13th century and the roof vaults are from the 15th century. The waiting room is of special interest as a chapel in it might be connected to Sten Sure senior.

Frötuna kyrka 2

Frötuna kyrka 3

Frötuna kyrka 4

Frötuna kyrka 5

The bell tower is the latest addition and is placed on a small hill a few hundred m from the church.

Frötuna kyrkas klocktorn

When we visited work with taring the roof was ongoing.

Frötuna kyrka tjära

The place name Frötuna is interesting as it predates Christianty in Scandinavia. Fro (Frö) is another name for the god Frej one of the gods in Scandinavian mythology, -tuna means farmyard so it means the farm of Frej or Frej’s farm.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Summer vacation 2009 part 2

I’ll continue with one church and two rune stones;

Lohärads kyrka

At Loharads (Lohärads) church is U567. The oldest parts of the church are from the 13th century, it has been added to several times until it got its present looks during the 19th century. Within the church paintings from the late medieval times have been found and restored, sadly the church was looked so I have no pictures of these.

 U 567

The inscription on U 567 is, translated to English; Anund and Sven (?) and Ærnjjorn and Hægvid(?). Neither the runes nor the ornaments aren’t all that skilfully made, the inscription only holding names indicates that there might have been another stone.

 Lohärad kyrkas klockstapel

The bell tower is a bit odd and placed ca 150 m SW of the church next to a crossing of roads.

The next rune stone is U 573 at Kragsta.

U 573

Today it is very difficult to read as it is worn and it needs a new paint job. The inscription is interesting as it is a variant of a Germanic name giving principle where a part of the fathers name is a part of the sons name, it reads (translated to English); Alvgaut and Vigdjarf had this stone raised in memory of their father Vigi.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Summer vacation 2009 part 1

The last few days I’ve been on the road, as it’s me that means I’ve stopped at rune stones, churches and ancient remains. Yesterday we went NNW of Stockholm to Roslagen and Uppland and today we went through Sodermanland, Ostergotland to the northern parts of Smaland Counties. 

Karls kyrkoruin 1

Stop one, day one; the church ruin of Karl’s church ruin (Karls kyrkoruin) in Söderby-Karl parish (Raa 212:1).

Karls kyrkoruin 4

Karls kyrkoruin 3

Karls kyrkoruin 2

The church dates back to the 13th century. The oldest mention of the church is from 1287 ” Ecclesijs meis parrochialibus ….. Karlungskirkiu 1287”. It is a very nice ruin but there are no information signs at all except from the road sign.

Karls kyrkoruin skylt

An odd thing is the well in the NW part of the church. It’s ca 3-4 m deep and only protected by a tree lid (no warning signs). I’ve never seen a well inside of a church before. I guess this it’s not unique but it can’t be that usual as I’ve visited more than a few during the last decade and I can’t remember another one. In the well finds of medieval coins and a war hammer has been made and according to national registry of ancient monuments (FMIS) a cranium belonging to an adult woman has also been found in the well or just by it.

Karls kyrkoruin brunn 1

Karls kyrkoruin brunn 2

In the old entrance to the church are several fragments of one or more rune stones (U 583). In Samnordiskruntextdatabas only one fragment is mentioned. According to FMIS there should be two fragments. I saw at least three possibly four. Fragment 1-3 seems to belong to the same stone and the fourth, that I am not possibly sure has runes on it though I got that feel when on location –though on the photo I can’t identify any, are from another stone, if it is a rune stone.

U 583 Fragment 1

U 583 Fragment 1

 

U 583 Fragment 2
U 583 Fragment 2
U 583 (?) Fragment 3
U 583 (?) Fragment 3
Fragment 4 (runes or marks?)
Fragment 4 (runes or marks?)

In the entrance is also a rock with cup marks (not mentioned in FMIS)

Karls kyrkoruin skågropar

More information about the church is available at Stockholm County museum webpage (in Swedish) and FMIS (also in Swedish). 

Magnus Reuterdahl


Riseberga cloister and cloister church ruin

I visited Karlskoga last weekend and on Sunday we went by Riseberga cloister and cloister church ruin in Narke close to Orebro.

Riseberga 

The monastery was founded in the end of the 11th or in the beginning of the 12th century. On the picture below is the west wall, the only one standing, of the church.

 Riseberga2

The cloister was a Cistercian convent for nuns and the cloister church was built during the 12th or possibly 13th century.

 Riseberga4

The church was ca 27 x 18 m (E-W) during the first phase of the cloister this church was preceded by a smaller church.

 Riseberga6

The ruins have been restored and conserved several times since the 1930’s til the latest in 2004. Some excavations has also been done which among other things have revealed a lot of graves within the cloister compound.

 Riseberga5

Riseberga is beautiful situated and a place we will return to soon, unluckily this day a theatre show was on at the nearby amphitheatre (built in 1937) which hindered us somewhat to explore the area, I recommend a visit.

 

Magnus Reuterdahl


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