Author Archives: Per Storemyr

About Per Storemyr

I work with the archaeology of old stone quarries, monuments and rock art. And try to figure out how they can be preserved. For us - and those after us. For the joy of old stone!

Taken by the frost! The beauty and destructive force of ice growth on masonry

After 28 years of working with weathering of cultural heritage, I have finally seen it “live” and photographed it: How the force of ice can destroy plaster on stonework. It is more diverse than I though. A complex and fascinating … Continue reading

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The world’s northernmost medieval marble church

The small, Romanesque Gildeskål church is one of the most complete marble churches in Norway. It resides at the magnificent coast along the Atlantic Ocean far up north, in Nordland county. And it is, presumably, the northernmost marble building in the world. Together with Giske church further south, it is part of outstanding, but little known, medieval marble architecture in Norway, of which Nidaros Cathedral, with thousands of marble columns, is the most spectacular example. Continue reading

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Frostforvitring på kulturminner: Bilder av et fenomen få har dokumentert og formidlet

Mange har meninger om frostforvitring på kulturminner, på stein, murverk, puss og mørtel. Men det er få som har dokumentert fenomenet med bilder. Derfor er det mye synsing om «isens ødeleggende kraft». Her presenteres nye fotos av hva som faktisk kan skje når kalkmørtel blir offer for frost. Det dreier seg bl.a. om islinser som dannes og vokser i eksisterende svakhetsplan og sprenger biter bort. Stedet er den nye, «middelalderske» kalkovnen i Kvernsteinsparken i Hyllestad i Ytre Sogn. Continue reading

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Burning the beaches. Happy New Year from the Faroe Islands!

The Faroe Islands, in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. Basalt and other volcanic stone everywhere! Yet, many buildings on the islands were erected by the use of lime mortar, from the Middle Ages on. There is absolutely no limestone on the Faroes. Thus, lime mortar had to be produced by “burning the beaches” – collecting shells from beach deposits, stacking the shells above a fire in a field kiln – and let it happen: Hold the temperature at some 900 degrees centigrade for a couple of days, and out comes quicklime to be mixed with water and beach sand for the mortar. Continue reading

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Værnes: Norges mest komplette sandsteinskirke fra middelalderen

Den er dekorert med elementer av kleberstein og klorittskifer, men ellers er det sandstein så langt øyet kan se: Værnes er Norges mest komplette sandsteinskirke fra middelalderen! Den rager i størrelse og volum av brukt sandstein langt over middelalderbyggverk i tilsvarende stein i andre deler av landet! Her er et sammendrag av min artikkel til boken «Værnes kirke – en kulturskatt i stein og tre» som ble utgitt for et par uker siden (november 2016). Det er Grubleseminaret som står bak, med Morten Stige og Kjell Erik Pettersson som fantastiske redaktører av boken! Continue reading

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Tusen år med brytning av kleberstein tok nettopp slutt. En historie om mekanisering og globalisering. Og om å gjenoppdage gammelt håndverk

Det er ytterst vanskelig å skaffe kleberstein til restaurering av Norges middelalderkirker. Til og med avisene har fått det med seg. Ved Nidarosdomen, Stavanger domkirke og i Bergen klør man seg i hodet: Det finnes ingen kleberbrudd i drift i Norge! De har blitt offer for globalisering. Hva er redningen? Kan man lære av hvordan kleberstein ble tatt ut manuelt i gamle dager? Kan man låne kunnskap fra et tilgrensende fagområde, nemlig bruk av kalkmørtel? De gamle bygningene trenger også sårt til god kalkmørtel! Problemet har vært at kunnskap om gammel kalkproduksjon har lagt nede i mer enn 50 år. Men nå produseres det brent kalk som aldri før i små «middelalderovner». Håndverket har blitt aktivt vekket til live gjennom eksperimentell virksomhet. Støttet av kulturminnevernet. Kan vi også vekke det gamle steinbryterhåndverket til live igjen? Til glede for restaurering? Continue reading

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HOTMIX! Nybrent Hyllestadkalk leskes og testes som restaureringsmørtel på Stavanger domkirke

Endelig i gang med hotmix! Med lesking og testing av nybrent Hyllestadkalk til bruk i mørtel for restaurering. Som mange vil huske, brant Norsk Kvernsteinsenter lokal marmor i en nybygd «middelalderovn» i Hyllestad sist juni, et prosjekt støttet av Riksantikvaren. Planen er å leske og teste brentkalken på flere restaureringsprosjekter i Norge, bl.a. på Selja klosterruiner og Stavanger domkirke. Sidene jeg regelmessig jobber sammen med kollegaer i Stavanger, har vi nå gjort flere tester på domkirken med George Murphy og Bjørn Idland, som er restaureringsmurere ved Arkeologisk Museum (UiS). Det er ikke lett å leske kalk som er brent på tradisjonell måte. For det vil alltid være halvbrente og ubrente biter i slik kalk. Akkurat som i middelalderen. Vi lesket kalken på tre ulike måter, og det var liten tvil: tradisjonell hotmix ga det foreløpig beste resultatet! Continue reading

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Was Nidaros Cathedral built from stone extracted in a large underground Medieval quarry?

Ancient underground building stone quarries are rather common. They are known since at least the Old Kingdom in Egypt, some 6 500 years ago, when fine limestone was quarried underground close to Cairo (Tura) in order to provide casing stones to the Giza pyramids. But underground quarries are, interestingly, quite rare in the European Middle Ages. Apparently, there was no need to start difficult, large-scale underground operations to build churches, monasteries and cathedrals until the Late Middle Ages, when, for example, the underground limestone quarries in Paris and Caen in France started to become developed toward the gigantic network of tunnels and galleries we know today. Thus, it is remarkable that a huge underground quarry may have been opened around AD 1200 in Trondheim, Norway, in order to provide soapstone for Nidaros Cathedral, the northernmost of Europe’s great medieval cathedrals. Why? Continue reading

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New open-access book: Soapstone in the North. Quarries, Products and People. 7000 BC – AD 1700

NEW BOOK: Hansen, G. & Storemyr, P. (eds.) 2017. Soapstone in the North: Quarries, Products and People. 7000 BC – AD 1700. UBAS University of Bergen Archaeological Series, 9, 408 p. Abstract: “Soapstone is a remarkable rock. While it is soft and very workable, it is also durable and heat-resistant, and with a high heat-storage capacity. These properties have been recognised and valued around the world since prehistoric times, and soapstone has been used for a multitude of purposes, ranging from everyday household utensils to prestigious monuments and buildings. This book addresses soapstone use in Norway and the North Atlantic region, including Greenland. Although the majority of the papers deal with the Iron Age and Middle Ages, the book spans the Mesolithic to the early modern era. It deals with themes related to quarries, products and associated people and institutions in a broad context. Recent years have seen a revival of basic archaeological and geological research into the procurement and use of stone resources. With its authors drawn from the fields of archaeology, geosciences and traditional crafts, the anthology reflects cross-disciplinary work born of this revival.” Continue reading

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“Nidaros: The Portland Cement Cathedral” (Baker Memorial Lecture)

This week I attended the international conference “Rediscovering Traditional Mortars” in Trondheim. The conference was hosted by the Nidaros Cathedral Workshop and it was part of the annual conferences organised by the British Building Limes Forum and its Nordic counterpart.

I was lucky to be invited to keep two lectures, one on the experimental lime burning in Hyllestad earlier this year, and the Baker Memorial Lecture during the gala dinner. A very great honour to keep this traditional lecture for more than 230 delegates! I concentrated the lecture on the use of Portland Cement during the restoration of Nidaros Cathedral from 1869 on. Read on to get a glimpse of all the problems it has caused! Continue reading

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