Reconstructing a Medieval Underground Soapstone Quarry: Bakkaunet in Trondheim in an International Perspective
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Underground medieval quarries are rare, in Norway and elsewhere in Europe. Thus the question: Could a big underground soapstone quarry have been opened at Bakkaunet in Trondheim (central Norway) in the Middle Ages? This question of stone procurement for Nidaros Cathedral – which is Europe’s northernmost medieval cathedral and a building heavily influenced by English traditions and fashions – has bothered us for the last 20 years. In this paper we discuss what we think the quarrymen did. It is a biography of the now almost lost Bakkaunet quarry, with a focus on the question about underground operations. But the paper also discusses stone procurement for Nidaros Cathedral in view of contemporary international, especially English, trends. The story is sad, for the open-cast part of this once great quarry, very close to the centre of Trondheim, has been successively destroyed by modern house building over the last century.