Medeltida kyrktakstolar, Norra Solberga kyrka, Garde kyrka och Gökhems kyrka. Foto: (CC BY)

Takstolar som kunskapskälla

– Hantverk, konstruktioner och dateringar i medeltida kyrkor


For programme and information in English, please see below.

Välkommen till en konferens med fokus på kunskapsläget om de medeltida kyrkornas takkonstruktioner. Målet är att presentera och diskutera olika aktuella forskningsresultat från undersökningar gjorda på kyrkornas vindar i både Sverige, Norden och Europa.

Många olika forskningsprojekt, inventeringar och undersökningar pågår runt om i flera länder. De tvärvetenskapliga samarbetena har ökat under 2000-talet och undersökningsmetoderna utvecklats. Kyrktaken och kyrkvindarna har visat sig bestå av ett viktigt källmaterial, vars potential inte har utnyttjats till fullo tidigare. Vi vill genom denna konferens bidra till att synliggöra det dolda kulturarv som kyrktaken och takstolarna utgör och visa på deras potential för en ökad kunskap om de kyrkliga kulturarven. Forskare, den kyrkliga kulturarvsförvaltningen och kulturmiljövården kan här få mötas, inspireras och lära av varandra.

Konferensen äger rum från lunch till lunch den 8–9 november 2022 vid Humanistiska teatern, Engelska parken, Uppsala och arrangeras av Kungliga Vitterhetsakademin, Riksantikvarieämbetet och Svenska kyrkan.

Vi planerar för en fysisk konferens, men den kommer också att filmas för att publiceras på webben i efterhand, men inte livesändas.

Då vi kommer att ha ett flertal internationella talare kommer konferensen att hållas på engelska.

Anmäl dig till konferensen här. Sista anmälningsdag är den 24 oktober.

Program, se nedan.

Läs mer om föreläsarna här (på engelska).

Roof trusses as historical sources

– craftsmanship, constructions and datings of medieval churches


Welcome to a conference focusing on the state of knowledge about the roof structures of medieval churches. The aim is to present and discuss various current research results from investigations conducted on church attics in Sweden, the Nordic countries and Europe.

Many different research projects within the field are underway in several countries, interdisciplinary collaborations have increased and research methods have been developed. The church roofs and church attics have been shown to comprise an important source material, of hitherto untapped potential. This conference aims to contribute to making visible the hidden heritage that the church roofs and trusses constitute and to show their potential for increasing knowledge of the cultural heritage of the churches. Researchers, people engaged in ecclesiastical cultural heritage administration and cultural environment preservation can meet, be inspired and learn from each other.

The conference will take place from lunch to lunch on 8–9 November 2022 at Humanistiska teatern, Engelska parken, Uppsala and is organized by the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, the Swedish National Heritage Board and the Church of Sweden.

We are planning for a physical conference, but it will also be filmed to be published on the web afterwards. However, the conference will not be live-streamed.

As we will have several international speakers, the conference will be held in English.

Please register for the conference here. Register 24 October at the latest.

Programme, see below.

Read about the lecturers here.



Tuesday November 8th

12.00 | Registration and lunch

13.00 | Welcome
Moderators: Gunnar Almevik & Gunhild Eriksdotter.

13.10 | Medieval roof trusses in Sweden and Europe – Managing an important cultural heritage for the future
Markus Dahlberg, the Church of Sweden.

A millennial succession of construction in wood and stone has gradually shaped the features of the ecclesiastical landscape that meets us today. Although stone churches have become prevalent in many areas, there is often a rich wooden architecture above the wall crest. The Swedish churches testify to a handicraft tradition that extends far beyond the country’s borders. What characterizes the churches in Sweden in a European context? What are the conditions for taking care of this cultural heritage for the future? And for whom is it important?

13.30 | A decade in the church attics: Preliminary results from the Swedish survey campaigns
Robin Gullbrandsson, Västergötlands museum, University of Gothenburg.

Summarising reflections on the results of surveys made in Swedish dioceses 2010–2022. The list of known medieval timber roofs in Swedish churches has since the start of surveys in 2010 grown considerably. The cross-disciplinary approach of these projects has enhanced the church attics as sources to a deeper understanding of medieval carpentry techniques and church building.

13.45 | The Romanesque Common-Tiebeam Roof in Northern Europe: An overview
Nathaniel Alcock, University of Warwick.

Roofs with common tiebeams (having a tiebeam to every truss) form the earliest roofs that survive in Northern Europe, with tree-ring dates beginning in the early 11th century. They are very widespread, with examples recorded from Northern France and Germany to Scandinavia and England. In particular, they make up the earliest roofs of Sweden’s wealth of Romanesque churches. This paper will provide an overview on a European scale of the distribution and dating of these roofs and of the different types of common-tiebeam roof truss that have been discovered.

14.15 | Timber, construction and distribution in medieval Mecklenburg, Northern Germany
Tilo Schöfbeck, Bauforscher.

Mecklenburg is one of the landscapes with the most well preserved medieval roof constructions in Germany. Quite every medieval parish church has one or more construction. Depending to history of settlement (Deutsche Ostsiedlung) the beginning of building churches was in the early years of 13th century. Without archeology, we found relicts of the first wooden churches used secondary in later roof constructions.

Beginning in 1210s, most of medieval churches in Mecklenburg have got one old roof construction, often more. From the 1240s scissor-beam-constructions were dominating sacred architecture. In the late century big frames above hall churches have been developed. Wooden belfries from the 13th century and half timbered churches from the 14th century are completing this ensemble.

According to economic development around baltic sea and prosperity in Hanseatic towns there was a lack of timber for carpenters from the 1270’s until the end of middle ages. From this time we found much imported timber in archeology and roof constructions resp. art works. With the help of dendro-provenancing we can localise origins of traded timber. Depending to the bad quality and length of local trees adapted constructions were created.

14.45 | Coffee

15.15 | Research on Danish medieval church roofs: types, roofings and datings
Per Kristian Madsen, The National Museum of Denmark.

A survey of the research on Danish medieval church roofs since the late 19th century. Focus was for a long time on the differentiation of types of roof trusses. These then grew into being datable and guiding examples. Dendrochronology changed this picture since c. 1990 and a new understanding of church datings, building programmes, handicraft techniques and regional structures has started to emerge. Some examples of this will be presented as well as a few remarks on future projects.

15.45 | 12th century roof constructions in the Diocese of Lund
Karl-Magnus Melin, Göteborg University, Knadriks Kulturbygg.

In the 12th century no one was aware of Romanesque or Gothic styles, as these styles were invented after the fact. My aim is to understand: constructions, silviculture and craft from medieval perspectives. In my research, modern typology and methods of documenting in many cases have been more of an obstacle than helpful tools. Instead, I have used craft research and acted as an apprentice to the multiple medieval sources available.

16.15 | Regional patterns of late medieval and early modern European building patterns: A big data approach using dendrochronological felling dates
Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist, Stockholm University.

Past variations in building activity indirectly reflect historical changes in demography, economics, and social conditions. Large datasets of dendrochronologically dated felling dates from historical construction timbers can permit the study of past construction rates in time and space. A recent complication of over 54,000 precisely dated, and georeferenced, construction timber felling dates have allowed the establishment a new detailed history of European building activity between 1250 and 1699. Most of the Nordic countries, despite potentially promising material and decades of dendrochronological work, remain underrepresented – calling for efforts to systematically compile and analyse existing Nordic felling dates.

16.45 | The  German project: The Romanesque Roof – Dated roof structures before 1230 (1250)
Ulrich Klein, Freies Institut für Bauforschung und Dokumentation e.V. (IBD)

16.55 | Reflections on day 1

17.05 | End of day 1

18.30 | Dinner at Vasasalen, Uppsala castle     

Wednesday November 9th

8.30 | Welcome to day 2
Moderators: Gunnar Almevik & Gunhild Eriksdotter.

8.40 | From Romanesque to Gothic in French roof structures of the 11th–13th centuries
Frédéric Epaud, CNRS Centre National de Recherche Scientifique.

Through the archaeological study of several Romanesque and Gothic carpentry structures, I will evoke the main stages in the evolution of carpentry structures from the beginning of the 11th century to the 13th century in Northern France. I will attempt to define the principles of Romanesque carpentry from a technical and structural point of view and to understand the transition to Gothic carpentry during the second half of the 12th century, while addressing questions related to the size of the wood, the assembly techniques and the type of wood used. I will also see that the multiplication of large Gothic cathedral construction sites at the end of the 12th and in the 13th centuries presented new technical and logistical challenges to master carpenters, both in the design and lifting of large structures and in the supply of quality timber.

9.20 | Medieval roof trusses in Finland
Panu Savolainen, Aalto University.

The presentation is about the research project ‘Deciphering roofs’, which examines late medieval architectural innovations and construction processes. The research aims to understand how architectural innovations were conveyed in the Baltic Sea region. We approach church attics as an architectural information resource, archaeological material and cultural heritage. The methodologies cover building archaeology, documentary archaeology and reverse engineering. The stages of the project include, in the first phase, deciphering the building process and the structural principles of roof constructions. In the next stage, the structures are compared to one another to capture the local variations in Finland. The symbols and carvings are also interpreted to illustrate the participation of the local communities and professional builders in construction work. Finally, the Finnish material is set in the wider overseas context to unveil the transformation and flows of construction and architectural ideas in late medieval Europe.

9.50 | Coffee

10.20 | Original roof structures in Norweigan medieval stone churches. Classification and prehistory
Ola Storsletten, previously The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage research, NIKU.

Today there are about 170 medieval stone churches in Norway. In 19 of them the original roof construction are more or less preserved. The roof constructions are of different types and seem to reflect the dramatic topography, where main areas are limited by great chains of mountains. In former days the topography made travels between the various parts of the country very difficult. The stone architecture was introduced in Norway about the 1100, mainly from England and Denmark. Still many parts of the medieval roof constructions in the Norwegian stone churches seem to be a result of inland building traditions.

10.50 | Recent investigations of 12th century roof structures in Western Sweden
Robin Gullbrandsson, Västergötlands museum, Göteborg University.

New in-depth field-studies and dendrochronological samplings have cast light onto the multitude of carpentry solutions applied in the first stone churches of Västergötland. They have also shown how a common standard developed in the course of the century.

11.20 | Panel discussion and summary
with Markus Dahlberg, the Church of Sweden, Leif Anker, The Directorate for Cultural Heritage in Norway, Karl-Gunnar Olsson, Chalmers University of Technology and Ann Catherine Bonnier, independent researcher.

12.00 | Lunch


Plats: Humanistiska teatern, Engelska parken, Uppsala
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