The archaeological work has been ongoing since June, and experts are well underway with digging out the older layers that have been hidden under the schoolyard and the former exercise ground.

Trondheim Cathedral School is located in a part of the city for which scientists have relatively little archaeological information. 

"Most of what we know about the use of the area before the town fire in 1681 comes from the archaeological investigations west of the Cathedral School, carried out in connection with the construction of Statens hus in Tinghusgata in 1998," Julian Cadamarteri, the project manager for the excavations, said, according to the NIKU website.

The information from Statens hus is supplemented by the archaeological investigations at Nidaros Cathedral in 2005 and 2007, and the large excavations in the Archbishop's Palace after the fire in 1989. 

In addition to these larger investigations, a number of smaller investigations have been carried out in connection with infrastructure digging work.

Thousands of years of human activity

"The information we have today indicates that people have used the Nidarneset at least since the pre-Roman Iron Age (500 BC - CE)," Cadamarteri added.

"A mudslide buried the southernmost parts of the Nidarneset, where Trondheim is located today, sometime during the first century CE. On the site of Statens hus, traces of human activity were uncovered both above and below the prehistoric mudslide.

Extensive analyses of the soil provide experts with answers related to what has been cultivated in the area and what kind of fertilizer has been used in the cultivation process. Photo: NIKU

"The findings show that even though Nidarneset went through what must have been a catastrophic event where large parts of the habitable area were buried by clay, those who lived in the area were quick to use the landscape after the landslide had stabilized.

"Several finds of objects and structures from the Roman period, migration period, Merovingian period, and Viking period have previously been made in the surrounding area. In other words, there has been activity throughout the Iron Age on this part of the Nidarneset," Cadamarteri noted.

At the moment, scientists do not know how the Cathedral School area was used in the Middle Ages.

The importance of cultivation layers

"What is certain is that parts of the schoolyard have been cultivated land and pasture until the area became an exercise ground at the beginning of the 19th century. 

"We, therefore, additionally focus on examining the layers originating from the fields.

"Hopefully, the material from the cultivation layers will tell us more about what was cultivated in the fields from the Iron Age and through the Middle Ages. Through an intensive strategy, we will map which plants grew in the area and what kind of material was used to fertilize the fields," Cadamarteri stated.

Previous investigations in Trondheim have shown that organic waste from the city has probably been used to improve the soil quality of the fields that belonged to the citizens.

The archaeologists had already made several interesting artifact discoveries, which range in time from the 9th century to the modern use of the schoolyard before the asphalt was laid in the 1950s.

The excavation is financed by Trøndelag County Council and is planned to be completed during the autumn.

The archaeologists have been working on the site since June. Photo: NIKU

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