NIKU Tønsberg is responsible for archaeological projects in the medieval city. We also undertake other assignments within the field of cultural heritage preservation, whether it concerns monitoring, registration, documentation and surveying, or planning work.
Within the conservation area of the medieval town of Tønsberg, NIKU carries out archaeological investigations commissioned by The Directorate for Cultural Heritage and other actors. The investigations may comprise monitoring, environmental monitoring, preliminary surveys and/or excavations.
The Medieval Town of Tønsberg
According to written sources, there was a market town (kaupstaðr) in Tønsberg at the end of the 9th century (ref. Heimskringla). Scattered building remains and traces of cultivation ranging from 700-1050 AD have been documented, as well as remains of a cemetery from the late 900s. In addition, with the help of recent borehole surveys, traces of the harbor front and organic cultural layers interpreted as remains of a settlement from the 9th and 10th centuries have been discovered, as well as cultural layers indicating frequent activity in the first half of the 11th century. However, many buildings in Tønsberg have deep cellars which means the oldest remains have probably been lost.
During archaeological excavations, wooden structures are often uncovered, for instance lath timber buildings and wood paved streets. But he most common find is cultural layers, i.e. soil containing various traces of human activity, such as implements, food remains and other rubbish, manufacturing waste, and faeces from animals and people. In connection with churches, graves containing skeletons have also been uncovered.
Much of the medieval topography is still visible, and streets such as Storgaten, Øvre Langgate, Møllegaten, Rådhusgaten and Tjømegaten have their origins in medieval streets and commons. Medieval Tønsberg had eight known churches (possibly nine), two of which are still visible as ruins. In addition, there are visible remains of Tunberghus, a large castle complex built in the 12th century on Slottsfjellet, and ruins of a royal residence (kongsgård) built in stone by Håkon Håkonsson in the 13th century.
Where to Find Us
Our office is located at the Slottsfjell Museum, sharing premises with the Vestfold Museums IKS and the The Directorate for Cultural Heritage (Riksantikvaren).
Phone: 907 49 169