Posted: 25 Feb 2018 07:13 PM PST
Well-preserved remains of medieval buildings and roads have been discovered under the floor of the gymnasium of the Cathedral School of Åbo in Turku, Finland. When the gym’s floor was removed during renovations. Workers found the remains of two houses, vaults, staircases and a paved road from the 14th century.
It is not an unexpected find. The oldest city in Finland, Turku was founded in the 13th century, and while the medieval center of the city around the cathedral had to be rebuilt after it was levelled by fire in 1827, excavations in the 1990s unearthed the foundations of 13th and 14th-century stone and brick houses, and numerous artifacts. At that time Turku was the site of the bishopric and Turku Cathedral, consecrated in 1300, which is just down the street from the school. Aboa Vetus next door to the school has integrated the medieval remains under its floors into only archaeological museum in Finland.
Even though it is houses in a 19th century from the post-fire reconstruction, the school itself has been in existence since the 13th century and given its location in the heart of the medieval monastery district, it is unsurprising that medieval remains have been found on school property before, including in a dig of the schoolyard just last year, a dig that it still ongoing.
Excavations will continue for another month. The archaeological team is hoping to reach the floor level of the houses. The really thorny problem is what to do after that. The whole point of tearing up the gym floor was to build a new one with fresh supports. Those support pilings as currently planned cannot be constructed without largely destroying the ruins. Uotila is hoping the remains will be left in place and that the shoring supports issue will be sorted out so that the remains can still become integrated into the building as a display.
Installing a transparent floor with magic carpet supports that would make the medieval city visible as the kinds runs around and dunk basketballs would be awesome, no question, but may not be possible or be the best solution for the long-term preservation of the structures. Local architect Benito Casagrande thinks they should go another way altogether.
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