Category Archives: New publications

Burning sea shells to make quicklime

Burning sea shells to make quicklime once was a great tradition in the North-Atlantic region. In Millstone Park, Hyllestad (W-Norway), we have built two limekilns, reviving old lime burning traditions, involving craftspeople, volunteers and the public. Recently we burnt sea shells to make lime paint and mortar! Read about the experiment in a new poster and web article. 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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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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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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Forvitring av kleberstein på middelalderkirker – to videoer

Sist vinter holdt jeg to foredrag om forvitring av kleberstein sett i lys av bygnings- og restaureringshistorie. Det dreide seg om portaler fra norsk middelalder og foredragene ble holdt på «Portalseminaret» i regi av «Domkirken 2025»; miljøet som nå restaurerer Stavanger domkirke og som jeg også er en liten del av. Alle foredragene fra seminaret (og mange andre interessante saker om restaureringen) er nå lagt ut på YouTube.

Kanskje kan mine to foredrag være til hjelp for folk som sliter med å forstå hvorfor kleberstein forvitrer. Veldig mye dreier seg om hva bygningene har vært utsatt for av forandringer og restaureringer gjennom tidene. Men noe av forvitringen kan også knyttes til steinkvalitet, tidligere luftforurensning og ikke minst vann! Rett og slett lekkasjer! Innholdet i foredragene er i stor grad basert på min gamle doktoravhandling “The Stones of Nidaros” fra 1997 og mange artikler om forvitringshistorie, bl.a. “Weathering of soapstone in a historical perspective”. Continue reading

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Fra Aswan til Hyllestad. Hva er et steinbruddlandskap?

Menneskene har brutt stein til alle mulige formål siden tidenes morgen. Men hva er et steinbruddlandskap? Hva kan vi si om alle de millioner av steder der folk har tatt ut stein? Fra den tidligste steinalder til i dag? Det var temaet jeg fikk til et foredrag på det 14. Hyllestadseminaret i slutten av april 2016, i regi av Norsk Kvernsteinsenter. Dessuten skulle jeg snakke om hvordan steinbruddlandskap kan formidles. Jeg innså raskt at oppgaven var helt umulig. Continue reading

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Gneiss for the Pharaoh: Geology of the Third Millennium BCE Chephren’s Quarries in Southern Egypt

Chephren’s Quarry. A name imbued with splendour. It was not the first quarry from which stone vessels and sculpture were provided in Ancient Egypt, but it was definitely the most spectaular one. Work started here, far south in the Western Desert of Egypt, already by the Predynastic period or earlier. By the Old Kingdom, 4500 years ago, it was a huge work site, comprising 700 quarry pits in the flat desert, covering an area of some 50 square kilometres. With Tom Heldal as the lead author, Ian Shaw, Elizabeth Bloxam and I have now written an account of how geology shaped Chephren’s Quarry. It is a story spanning millions of years, explaining the beauty of this hard, bluish stone – and how it could be exploited. Continue reading

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Kvernsteinsbruddene i Hyllestad: en historie i tre akter

Lihesten er selve symbolet på Hyllestad. Majestetisk ruver den over en liten kommune med et av Norges største kulturminner: kvernsteinsbruddene. Herfra ble det skipet ut håndkverner og vasskverner til store deler av Nord-Europa i vikingtid og middelalder. Men Lihesten er også et symbol på den dramatiske geologihistorien som gjorde kvernsteinsproduksjonen mulig. I denne artikkelen får du hele historien i tre akter; den første akten startet for flere hundre millioner år siden, den siste foregår nå – i friluftsmuseet Kvernsteinsparken under det ruvende fjellet. Continue reading

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