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Excavation leader Stuart Whatley about expectations

Here are some initial thoughts from April 2014 about what to expect from the excavation.

Archaeological work on the Metro Cityring excavations at Gammel Strand has been ongoing through various different projects since 2010. The watching brief projects from 2010-11 uncovered the remains of the two different Weighing Houses, structures used to weigh and tax goods brought in by sea. The first one is believed to date from the late 1400/early 1500s to 1581 and the later one from 1581-1857. Other structures uncovered include slaughter houses and storage buildings from the Vragerbro area, a storage area used for distribution of goods. Many finds were also retrieved including stoneware drinking vessels and glass from Germany, earthen domestic wares from Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, a variety of animal bones remains and textile fragments from the 1300s onwards.

The Guidewall Trench Excavation from may 2012 to June 2013 uncovered more structures on Gammel Strand. These include the Bargeman Guildhouse, first seen on a plan in 1683 and another part of the Vragerbro storage buildings dating from the late 1700s. The Bargeman Guild had an important role in Copenhagen ferrying the goods from various ships anchored south of the city which were too large to enter the Gammel Strand area. Both buildings were destroyed along with the Weighing House in 1857.
Beneath these structures werevarious wooden bulwarks and land ties. Land ties being anchors to keep the 1680s harbour wall in position. These structures rested on newly reclaimed land from the Renaissance period produced from former rubbish from households within Copenhagen. They also rested on an earlier stone cobble harbour path and stone harbour wall. The harbour wall was made from Munksten bricks and large stones approximately 1m in circumference. The earliest structures uncovered were found were timber posts and beams directly north of the stone harbour wall. The wooden posts and beams date from the early 1500s and are believed to be from the earlier late medieval harbour front.

The main excavation began in late January 2014 and will continue until the end of June 2014. The trench measures 76m long, from 6-12m wide and may go down to the depth of 6m. The trench is fully covered by a tent measuring 80m long, 22m wide by 9m high to the original ground level. The preservation is of high standard with wooden land ties, land reclamation boxes and bulwarks uncovered dating from the 1600s onwards. Brick and stone structures have also been uncovered with the remains of the eastern side of the Bargeman Guildhouse along with fragments of the Renaissance stone harbour wall already visible. We expect thousands of archaeological finds, many structures and hope for evidence of the early Copenhagen harbour.

March 2014