Steinvikholm castle ruin
Over the last few weeks I’ve been back in Norway for projects on conservation of medieval castle ruins, as well as on provenance of medieval and more modern building stone. Here are some impressions!*
Steinvikholm castle ruin north of Trondheim is currently under conservation. It was built as a state-of-the-art stronghold for the last Norwegian archbishop, Olav Engelbrektsson, just prior to the Reformation (1537). Used as a stone quarry in the centuries after abandonment, a phase of intensified conservation work is ahead, a work which is now being planned.
Geir Magnussen studying marks of medieval gneiss extraction under the moss at Reinskloster abbey. Stone to Norwegian medieval churches, monasteries and castles is said to have been provided from local and regional sources. But apart from stone for fine architectural details, there has been no investigation of provenance of the massive amount of stone needed for rubble walls. We are now searching for such sources, finding them under the moss, often close to the buildings. And there is good hope for reconstructing how this little-known work was organised in the Middle Ages.
Spoil heap of a medieval greenschist quarry? In the late 11th and 12th centuries fine stonework in Trondheim was often made from a soft greenschist. For years I have tried to find an alleged quarry under a modern residential area at Dyrborg, close to the Trondheim city centre. Believing the quarry was gone (or never existed...), a chance find of part of a probable spoil heap from quarry work may now be the indication we need to get on track again with further research.
The marble floors of Nidaros Cathedral (Trondheim) are not old, but a fine representation of the relationship between architecture and the stone industry from the late 1880s until the 1930s. Many marbles were used, from Fauske in North-Norway to Carrara in Italy
There was also a little time to visit one of the many rock at locations in Central Norway. At Bardal by Steinkjer are animals, boats and geometric figures spanning several millennia, from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. The panels are subject to active maintenance by the NTNU Museum of Natural History and Archaeology.
The projects and fieldwork in Norway are, in various ways, supported by company Bakken & Magnussen AS (associated with the medieval ruin conservation programme of Norwegian heritage authorities), the Restoration Workshop of Nidaros Cathedral, The Norwegian Non-fiction Writers and Translators Association and the Geological Survey of Norway.