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Excavation of Bryggen – Old Hanseatic Wharf

Bryggen, Bergen

Bryggen, a historic harbour district in Bergen, Norway, dates back to the 12th century and served as a trade centre, notably for the Hanseatic League from 1350 onwards. Despite being damaged by fires over the centuries, it was consistently rebuilt using traditional methods, resulting in the preserved medieval urban structure seen today. The district comprises 62 buildings showcasing the living and working conditions of German merchants, featuring narrow passages, gabled facades, and timber log construction. The area also includes fireproof stone warehouses for valuable goods. Bryggen maintained its distinct character even after the departure of the Hanseatic merchants, becoming a vital part of Bergen’s historic wooden city.
In 1955 a fire destroyed part of the early wooden buildings. This led to a major excavation which carried on for thirteen years and uncovered hundreds of thousands of objects which give an insight into everyday life in the city in the Middle Ages. The waterlogged layers had preserved c. 670 medieval runic inscription carved on wood (mostly pine). This important discovered changed many ideas of the use of runes, showing an everyday use of runes which continued until the 14th century.

The image on the left shows a selection of Rune Sticks from Bryggen
image: Arild Hauges Runer