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New excavations in Varnhem


Varnhem's monastery ruin was excavated around 1920, but only the central parts of the monastery area were examined. In recent excavations, a few smaller areas have been investigated, but roughly 80% of the monastery area is still unearthed. Now it is time for new excavations at Varnhem's monastery church.

There are certainly lots of remains of house grounds, crops, various workspaces and handicraft areas left to explore in the ground. Through new excavations, we hope to find out more about life in the monastery during the Middle Ages and how to organize daily life.

This year's excavation in Varnhem starts on Monday 13 May and it is being carried out as a collaboration between Västergötland Museum and Gothenburg University. It is a two-week field course for the 30 students who attend the continuation course in archaeology at Gothenburg
university this spring.

- It is extremely valuable for the students to try archaeological field work in such an exciting place as Varnhem, says university lecturer Tony Axelsson from Gothenburg, responsible for the students' field course.

The area to be investigated in May is immediately south of the monastery ruin, that is, within the property that Skara municipality has purchased to build a wetland. Here in the pasture there are, among other things, the remains of the outer wall which once delimited the monastery area towards the outside world.

Here also lay a less dammed lake during the monastery period and in the eastern part towards the hillside was probably the monastery mill with associated buildings. How the area between the central parts of the monastery plant and the outer wall is otherwise used by the monks is unknown but the excavation will hopefully be able to provide some answers.

- There were probably various workshops, parts of the convent's water supply system and perhaps smaller cultivation areas. It is just such traces of the convent's everyday life that we hope to find, says Maria Vretemark, 1st antique dealer at Västergötland's museum and project manager for the excavations in Varnhem.

For more information contact: Tony Axelsson,, +46 31 786 1880.

Photo: Västergötaland Museum. Picture from the last time there were field courses with students, in Varnhem. Summer 2017.

This text is a press release from the Västergötland Museum.