Ancient Remains Outlined in Street Pavement

Today’s schedule was 5 hours on trains to Lund, 6 hours in Lund giving a talk, and 5 hours on trains home. In Lund I saw the outline of a very early church foundation picked out in the overlying street pavement near the Cathedral. And I was reminded of other archaeology I’ve seen thus outlined: the chancel apse of Stockholm Cathedral and the great stone ship at Stångebro near Linköping. It’s a pretty cool way to show the many-layeredness of a spot that would otherwise just be asphalt.

Dear Reader, have you seen any interesting archaeology outlined in an overlying street pavement?

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  1. #1 Lassi Hippeläinen
    November 26, 2009

    This isn’t really ancient, only 18th century, but kind of cool anyway…

    It is a replica (made of snow) of the old Ulrika Eleonora Church at the Senate Square in Helsinki. The outline is marked in the ground. The snow version has been built in several winters. It is even used as a church for special occasions, e.g. weddings.

  2. #2 eleanora.
    November 26, 2009

    The first “white fella” building in Aus is mapped out on the pavement like that. It was the Governor’s residence and office. The replacement building was built in the same place and is also marked. The area is now a footpath and public square in front of a museum. There is roughly one sqare meter which is an open excavation with a glass hood so you can see the original foundations and water channels. I have photos. I’ll email them to you tonight or tomorrow when I have a little more time.

  3. #3 Martin R
    November 26, 2009

    Lassi, that’s so cool! Helsinki’s huge plazas are a little scary though. So they tore down that church to make room? The railway station plaza and the parliament building are terrifying.

    Eleanora, is that the gubernatorial mansion in Sydney? I read about it in Dancing with Strangers!

  4. #4 Stephenk
    November 26, 2009

    What about Virgilkapelle, next to Stephans Dom in Vienna?

    The cellars exist and were (re)found in the 70s. The layout is marked in the pavement above.

  5. #5 Lars L
    November 27, 2009

    MR: Is it St Drotten, in the Kattesund street?

  6. #6 Martin R
    November 27, 2009

    Lars, no, Stora Drotten is a stone church ruin in a basement that is open to the public. This is a nearby church foundation that is completely covered up and outlined in street cobbles on the surface. Anybody know its name?

  7. #7 Tor
    November 27, 2009

    I don’t know whether Dragarbrunnen qualifies as interesting archaeology — in fact, I don’t even know what it was — but its outline has been set in cobblestone in the pavement on Uppsala’s Dragarbrunnsgatan street.

  8. #8 Martin R
    November 27, 2009

    Cool! The name suggests that it was used to water dray horses. Seems it’s documented in that spot at least from about 1600 to 1870.

  9. #9 Lassi Hippeläinen
    November 27, 2009

    So they tore down that church to make room?

    Yes. Unfortunately they also built another (and bigger) church above the square.

    BTW, on Aleksanterinkatu, the street that passes by the square, there are brass marking on the place where the old waterfront used to be. Much of the street is built across an old bay that was filled in 19th century. That part of the town is still called Kluuvi (from Swedish glo.

  10. #10 Martin R
    November 27, 2009

    That’s like the quayfront at Nybroviken in Stockholm. Berzelii park inside used to be part of the bay and the quay was a bridge across its mouth.

  11. #11 Thad
    November 27, 2009

    Flodden Wall in Edinburgh is outlined in the street with brass colored bricks.

  12. #12 Pierre
    November 27, 2009

    You are talking about the outlined church in Kattesund, near st Drotten, right? The one you see a glimpse of on the above left pic here: It was a wooden church (stavkyrka) built around 1050 and it has no known name.

  13. #13 Martin R
    November 27, 2009

    Well done, Pierre, that’s the one.

  14. #14 murmel.jones
    November 27, 2009

    Several roman sites in the center of french and german towns (Walheim, for example) have the traces of roman walls outlined by different kinds of pavement. And of course there is the most famous wall: the trace of the torn down Berlin Wall is marked on the pavement at Potsdamer Platz, Brandenburger Tor and other places (

  15. #15 SM
    November 27, 2009

    The north and east walls of Fort Victoria ( ) are marked in brick on the streets of modern Victoria, BC. The south and west walls run under modern buildings.

  16. #16 Mattias
    November 28, 2009

    Last summer I saw a main road in Naples opened up for an excavation (in an area right next to the Castel Nuovo by the old docks). It had layers from antiquity, mediaeval and early modern periods clearly visible in ths slope from both two parallel streets and from an over-haning bridge. I am no archaeologist and was just passing by, but it was interesting to see the people brushing away on these remnants.

    / Mattias

  17. #17 Martin R
    November 28, 2009

    Sounds cool! If it ain’t interesting, then it ain’t good archaeology.

  18. #18 Pete
    November 28, 2009

    In Canterbury, England, the pavement in the Whitefriars shopping centre has been inscribed with excerpts from the archaeological plans from the excavation that took place before the area was built on.

  19. #19 Timo S
    November 30, 2009

    In Tartu, Estonia, the original outline of the houses along Rüütli Street has been marked on the present street. Most of the houses were destroyed in the 18th century, at first during the Nordic War in 1704 and what was left after that, in the fire of 1775. – There may be something like that in Tallinn, too, and there they have also exhibited some excavated remains of Medieval and Early Modern Period buildings in the recent years.

  20. #20 Timo S
    November 30, 2009

    I tried to find a photo of the Rüütli St. on the net where the outlines of the houses could be seen but didn’t find a better one than this:
    This is the southern end of the street and the red area on the right was occupied by houses until 1775.

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