It was time to move parliament house (Riksdag) back to the island of Helgeandsholmen, but before moving the Riksdag back, it made sense to conduct an archaeological dig. Only half of the island was to be used for the parliament and the empty space in front of the Riksdag was slated to be a carpark.
Before digging started, an archaeological investigation was allowed to take place. The two years of investigation (1978-1980) was the most comprehensive conducted in Stockholm city and threw up discoveries that told the story of Stockholm from the 13th century. These findings astounded the people and became the talk of the town. Among the findings were part of the wall built during the reign of modern Sweden’s first king – Gustav Vasa, 7 tonnes of human remains, a medival churchyard, 11 boats…
The dig sit was christened the National Pit, and public debate ensued over what to do with the site after the dig was completed. A workshop and car park was obviously out of the picture.
In 1986, the Medieval Museum opened and here are some pictures from the museum that tell the story of Medieval Stockholm.
A model of Stockholm during the medieval era, with a wall around the Gamla Stan. The tall spired buildings are the Storkyrkan and Tyskyskan, churches. On the left end of the larger Gamla Stan was a former citadel and now the royal palace. The Riksdag building, where parliament is located is closest to the picture.
The oldest letter that documents the city of Stockholm in the 13th century.
Among the items found were shoes that traced all the way back to professional cobblers in 13th century Stockholm.
Part of the Gamla Stan city wall that was originally built as part of defence fortifications.
A secret tunnel found in the museum that led to the heart of the Gamla Stan.
Medieval Stockholm was Christian and churches were filled with Christian imagery. Here, a couple admires the artwork of Mary (mother of Jesus) visiting her cousin Elizabeth. Where Elizabeth praises Mary, “blessed are you amongst women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
Another image found in a medieval church showing angelic heralds with a rosary around the Mary and the infant Jesus.
The monks and nuns in Christian Stockholm were very important in bringing knowledge to the people. These were the beacons of knowledge. Here are examples of things that were passed down through the written word.
An original brick that was laid in 13th century Stockholm. Found on the brick is a pawprint from a dog that was made before the brick had fully set.
Bags and pouches were tools used by women for practical purposes back in the day. To the right is a faded bag and on the left is a replica mock up of what the bag would have looked like before the ravages of time.
The body of an ancient boat that was rowed out and used for fishing or trading.
ON THE MAP