The refurbishment of the Parliament Building (Riksdagshus) on Helgelandsholmen to the north of Gamla Stan in Stockholm during the 1970’s led to a remarkable archeological find and a new museum.
When the builders started to excavate the Riksdagshus terrace to form an underground car park, they discovered layer upon layer of the past, including part of the medieval Town Wall which Gustavus Vasa had built in the 1530s, the cellars of an apothecary shop and the churchyard of the medieval Helgelandshuset (House of the Holy Spirit), which uncovered 7 metric tons of skeletons. No less than 11 boats were also found. The excavations aroused great attention and debate in the press and were soon christened “Riksgropen” (the National Pit).
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The Country Administrative Board decoded that these remains should be preserved as permanent heritage monuments, ands so the Medieval Museum came about. The State bore the building costs while the City of Stockholm dealt with the fittings and fixtures, displays and running costs.
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The archaeological investigations on Helgeandsholmen from 1978—1980 are the most comprehensive so far undertaken in the inner-city area of Stockholm. Altogether an area of 8,000 square meters was investigated and when the project was completed a volume of some 50,000 meters of earth had been dug through and carried away. The excavations made it possible to follow the development of settlement in the area from the mid thirteenth century to the present day.
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Stockholm Medieval Museum (Medelstidsmueum) incorporates the old wall and other treasures uncovered during the excavation.
Stockholm Medieval Museum, written by Tor Kjolberg