Medieval Brick Kilns

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Longtime Dear Readers may remember me blogging about the excavations in my friend Jan Peder’s garden last summer. Beside his house is a ruin mound full of heavily burnt and vitrified Medieval-style bricks, and he’s gotten funds together to do some excavations there. The original idea was that the feature might be the remains of a defensive tower or other aristocratic building. Last year’s work established that it was in fact the remains of a brick kiln, which is also evidence of somebody powerful in the vicinity. 16th century pottery found inside the kiln gives the latest possible date for its use. An early date is supported by the absence of clay pipe fragments. I did some metal detecting around the trench last year but found only evidence for Jan Peder’s family’s 20th century activities.

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Earlier today I visited to Jan Peder’s place and checked out a new section trench dug by Ylva Stenqvist and Johan Runer. It’s clarified the stratigraphy of the thing and suggests that there were at least two kilns, side by side. Nowhere in the trenches has the subsoil been reached, just a massive layer of brick, half of which is too heavily burnt and half insufficiently fired. A limestone collapse layer on top of the bricks seems to be remains of the kilns’ vaulted ceilings. I checked the trench walls & floors plus the new spoil dumps with the metal detector, but the burnt bricks were confusing the machine and I got only loud iron signals out of it.

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Divers have checked out the nearby sea floor and found scattered bricks of the same Medieval type as was produced in the kilns — note the barnacles on one brick in the picture and compare with the other one from dry land. The site is on land belonging to Boo manor, right by a heavily trafficked Medieval shipping thoroughfare toward Stockholm, where there was great demand for bricks from about 1250 onward. I guess that would be the lower limit of the kilns’ possible dates. There must have been many buildings at the site, not least living and working quarters, and I’d love to see it stripped down to the bone on a larger scale. Unfortunately this would a) be expensive and b) obliterate Jan Peder’s garden, and so is unlikely to happen.

Read more about the site on paper in Ledungen.


Ringstedt, N., Rahmqvist, S. & Lamm, J.P. 2007. Märklig fornlämning i Saltsjö Boo. Ledungen 33:1, March 2007. Stockholms läns hembygdsförbund. Stockholm.


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