Archeologists look for mystic burial chamber under the church grounds.

There might be many traces of earlier cultures and people on the site where New St. Olav Cathedral is going to be built, but there is one specific thing they are especially looking for. That is the burial chamber which was opened during the first dig which took place last autumn.


From the dig in September 2013 undertaken by the County Council.

During this opening, the clay layer, which has worked as a hermetical seal during the last 2000 years, was broken, and air would have penetrated into the chamber. Therefore, the archeologists are worried lest the grave is deteriorating.  Most of the resources available will be used to examine this grave. The <link http: trondelag leter-etter-mystisk-gravkammer-1.11933382 external-link-new-window external link in new>Les mer (read more) link takes you to an article in Norwegian. Below you will find a translation of the text.

Looking for mystic burial chamber

During the next five weeks, archeologists will be searching for a mystic burial chamber in the vicinity of Nidarosdomen.

A few hundred yards from Nidaros Cathedral, next to Prinsens gate, a new Catholic Church is going to be built. But before the building can start, archeologists from NTNU will undertake a dig to assess the cultural remains which were documented on the site last autumn.– This is a tremendously exciting area, only about 100 meters from Nidaros Cathedral and the Archbishop’s residence, says project leader for the dig, Raymond Sauvage, to NRK. (Norwegian Radio)

Could it be a major burial site?

Archeologists have established that both Nidaros Cathedral and the Archbishop’s residence are built on the remains of a major landslide of mostly clay, which took place in the first century AD.

– When the council dug here in the autumn, they removed the clay and exposed the surface beneath the landslide. They found among other things what appears to be a burial chamber, possibly part of a larger burial ground, says Sauvage.

It was clear that the chamber had been sealed by the clay and that some rocks had been moved by the landslide. This must have been a dramatic event at the time, he says.

Traces of a cultivated field, also buried by the landslide, was also found.

– Under this field, there may be even older remains, a real exciting possibility, says Sauvage.

Archeologists are also hopeful of what they may find above the landslide, since the ground soon was re-utilized for cultivation.

– This land has been cultivated since the time of the Romans. If we are lucky we might find remains from that period also. That will give us an overview of the history of the area.

Has waited a long time for the new church

When the Catholic Church applied for permission to demolish in 1994, there were no problems, but now, things have changed and we are hardly allowed to touch the site until the archeologists have done their work, says Egil Mogstad in the Catholic Church to NRK.

Mogstad understands that the archeologists must do their job before a new church can be built, but this building is something we have waited for a long time.

– The old church could seat around 180 people, the new will take about 500. We have had major problems with space, says Mogstad.

Examining the grave is first priority


Even if there might be many interesting remains in the ground where the church will be built, it is the burial chamber the archeologists are most excited about. Most of our resources will be used to examine that, says Sauvage.