17th Century Urban Archaeology

My friendly colleague Claes Pettersson heads excavations in Jönköping, a town in Småland. His team is working with 17th-century urban layers in a part of town that was laid out and settled by royal decree starting in the 1620s. Here are his pics of a few cool finds.


A shard from a painted window.


Part of a sword hilt, decorated with sweet non-sword-wielding little putti. (This piece is going to be sooo pretty after conservation.)


A baker’s mould depicting King Gustavus II Adolphus. In modern times, there has arisen a tradition to eat cake bearing the king’s image on the anniversary of his battlefield death. Such cakes were however unknown during his lifetime, and so Claes hypothesises that the mould may have been used to make funeral sweets out of black marzipan, a popular treat at the time. (I’ve enhanced the contrast of Claes’s photograph to bring the chubby king out.)


A heavy lead bullet was found stuck in a floor board in the ruins of a house built in the 1620s. Explains Claes, “Most likely wood salvaged from the old town area, and if so probably a memento from the siege of Jönköping Castle in 1612! These days, most of our Danish visitors are considerably more peaceful.”

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9 thoughts on “17th Century Urban Archaeology

  1. In modern times, there has arisen a tradition to eat cake bearing the king’s image on the anniversary of his battlefield death.

    Over here in Finland they celebrate this as “ruotsalaisuuden paivä” (or Svenska dagen). I don’t know, but picking this date does sound a bit like gloating.



  2. Katherine, I believe they would have used charcoal powder as colouring.

    Bob, I’m glad they celebrate Swedishness. In other countries with a similar ethnic mix, they’d be more likely to declare open season on the minority…


  3. I do not think it is necessarily gloating. The finns made up an important part of the swedish armies, and where known to be tought and self-reliant, brought up in the general hardship of a smallscale farmer. Now, of course the swedish soldiers often had the same qualities, but Finland was the border country toward russia,and the finnish farmers had a long tradition of having to be ready to fend for themselves until help could arrive. The kingdom of Sweden recognized the contribution of the finnish regiment and in nationalistic finnish history their soldiers exploits under the kings banner have been hailed a lot.


  4. There definitely was gloating. The day was originally (since 1908) celebrated by the Swedish Party, and the date was selected, because the 30 Years’ War was the start of Sweden as a superpower. In the twenties, when the recently independent country was still a bit looking for its identity, there were language-driven riots on that day.

    Today the day is celebrated peacefully. The Swedish-speakers have accepted their destiny as a decreasing minority (about 5%), and the Finnish majority doesn’t see them as a threat of any kind. It has become a day of cultural diversity, and also the newcomers from Asia and Africa get a piece of the action.


  5. You’re right about the sword hilt – it does look marvellous today when it’s cleaned & has been through conservation. Our collegues at the lab of Malm� Kulturmilj� did a great job …and worked fast too! But I actually think those putti are not as peaceful as you suggested – or rather that the seated figure in the middle appears to be a classical Godess, holding bow & arrow. Maybe Pallas Athena?


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