Parts of Stockholm's Old Town, Gamla Stan, and Riddarholmen’s two 14th century monasteries are currently being digged out by archeologists from Stadsmuseet (the Stockholm City Museum).
The exact address is Tyska stallplan 1, where in the medieval days a Dominican monastery stood, once filled with monks whose black frocks gave name to the nearby street Svartmangatan (black man street). The most important find so far is a now exposed floor, made by brick tiles. That the floor is made of bricks, is a sign for the archeologists that it is an inside floor. Had it at the time been part of the outside street, it had been damaged completely by the cold.
“It’s a surprise discovery for us,” says Anna Bergman, one of the archeologists at Stockholm Stadsmuseum. “Earlier excavations in the 1930’s made it sound like this floor was outside the monastery, information that never seemed right.” Certain excavations were done already in the 1870’s, and it was then that the place of the monastery was determined.
“The master builder then wrote that they had found a number of human bones and also a bricked grave with a person and a horse in it,” Bergman continues.
This is also the spot where once Sten Sture the Younger (1493-1520), a statesman and regent of Sweden under the era of the Kalmar Union, was buried. During the Stockholm Bloodbath in 1520 however, he was taken out of his grave and burnt along with other dead Stockholmers. (Later on he received a tombstone at Katarina Kyrka Cemetary). Thus an area particularly rich in history. The friars in the monasteries in Gamla stan and Riddarholmen were so-called mendicant friars, but they also lived off donations from rich people in the capital. That the monasteries didn’t survive has of course to do with the reformation and the entrance of Protestantism in Sweden. “Both monasteries were torn down around 1540,” explains Bergman.
Stockholm City Museum archaeologist. Photo: Johan Stigholt, Stockholms stadsmuseum