Cistercian Soapstone. Production and Delivery of Building Material from Lyse Abbey to Bergen in the 13th century
Chapter, Peer reviewed
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Geochemical analyses of four medieval building stones in the collections of the University Museum of Bergen and one sample from a standing church have demonstrated a geological provenance to the soapstone quarry located close to the Cistercian abbey of Lyse south of Bergen. The five samples derive from four different monumental stone buildings in medieval Bergen: The Benedictine abbey church (Munkalif ), the Franciscan friary church (St. Olaf ’s), the royal residence’s great hall (King Håkon’s Hall), and the same Residence’s Royal chapel (the Church of the Apostles). The archaeological and historical contexts of the building and building fragments are discussed, dating the soapstone deliveries from Lyse to the second half of the 13th century. This paper also discusses the organisation of a Cistercian abbey and asks if the laybrothers in the abbey may have played an important role as craftsmen in the quarry at Lyse. The soapstone quarry seems to have been essential for the Cistercians, not only for building their own monastic complex from the mid-12th century onwards but also as a source of income, selling soapstone material to royal and ecclesiastical building projects in Bergen – at least documented in a period from the mid-13th Century onwards.