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Abstract Alvastra kloster och kyrkobyggandet i Östergötland.docx

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  ALVASTRA ABBEY AND THE ÖSTERGÖTLAND CHURCHES. In: Munkar och magnater vid Vättern. Lund Studies in Historical Arcaheology 15. Lund 2012 One of the questions raised by the Medieval Alvastra Project was whether the Cistercian abbey influenced the churches of the province of Östergötland, and if so, how. Was there ever a Cistercian style? The medieval churches in the province were analysed in 1928 by Erik Lundberg, later to become professor of architecture. New dating methods, above all dating by dendrochronology, mostly corroborate his results. Some of the churches are better understood today, though, making it meaningful to summarize our current knowledge. The article discusses various dating techniques that are being used by scholars who study  buildings. The character of the masonry and the way the stones are dressed are new ways to distinguish between churches from different periods. Dendrochronology is by far the best method for dating but is not always applicable due to lack of proper material. The first churches to be built were no doubt made of wood. Two stave churches have been excavated so far (at Bjälbo and Klosterstad). Close to several of the oldest stone churches are remains of stone  sarcophagi  from Viking Age Christian burials, indicating the existence of  prior wooden churches. This is especially true of the centres of the early ecclesiastical organization of the province, Linköping, Skänninge and Söderköping. The first stone cathedral in Linköping was probably built in the early years of the 12 th  century (Fig. 1). It was a three-aisled Romanesque church with transepts and a fairly long chancel. The transepts had peculiar shallow apses and the west tower was flanked by smaller ones. The walls were very thin. This is also true of Vreta Church, probably built on a royal estate just outside Linköping. The layout is very similar to that of the cathedral but the proportions are somewhat different (Fig. 2). The oldest parish churches so far to be dated by dendrochronology are situated in the western  part of the province. The churches of Herrestad, Örberga (Fig. 3) and Hagebyhöga (Fig. 4) were all built in the period 1110-1120, i.e.  before the founding of Alvastra Abbey in 1143. Characteristic of these and other churches from the first half of the century is a masonry made of small stones and thin courses, even though this is not always the case. The remains of the Cistercian monastery at Alvastra were excavated by Otto Frödin in the first half of the 20 th  century. His work was carried on for a while by Ingrid Swartling, an art historian who later wrote a monograph on the abbey and the cloistral buildings (1969). Archaeologist Elisabet Regner has recently (2005) analysed Otto Frödin´s findings regarding the history of the buildings and the distribution of the graves. Alvastra Abbey was presumably  begun shortly after the arrival of the monks in 1143 and was consecrated in 1185. The other  buildings of the monastery were built during the following centuries and work was still in  progress in the 15 th  century. The limestone abbey was a large three-aisled church of the Fontenay type, i.e.  with transepts and a protruding chancel flanked by two pairs of chapels, all straight-ended (Figs. 6, 7). The layout of the abbey is clearly visible but most of the walls have been pulled down. A section of the south transept is still standing and the western part of the nave is preserved almost to the top. Barrel vaults covered all parts of the church (Fig. 8). The longitudinal vault of the nave was supported by transversal vaults in the aisles, just as in Fontenay. The chancel was   2 slightly narrower at the east end and the floor was probably placed at a somewhat higher level here. Very few additions were made to the church before it was abandoned in the 16 th  century. The architecture is of great simplicity and beauty. The abbey has a fine masonry with well-dressed ashlars and a broad chamfered plinth, set in two ledges (Fig. 10). The plinths of the interior pillars are also chamfered. A large Gothic window in the west façade stems from the early 14 th  century but two smaller windows are srcinal (Fig. 9). One of them is of a peculiar shape, being cruciform with a rounded upper arm. Another characteristic trait is the way in which the doors in the nave are fashioned. Their jambs are crowned by a narrow arch, making the top of the doorway slightly horseshoeish in shape (Fig. 11). By 1185 the abbey was consecrated and at least the east part of the church must have been fit for use. This makes it probable that the adjoining sacristy and the chapter house were under way, too. It is by no means certain, though, that the nave was completed at that time. It has  been a matter of discussion where King Sverker, killed in 1156, was buried. Otto Frödin  believed that the royal tomb was in the crossing of the abbey, but Elisabeth Regner has shown that this is not likely. She suggests that the king was buried in the chapter house or in the sacristy.  Nydala Abbey, in the province of Småland, was founded in the same year as Alvastra and consecrated in 1266. The east part was built of gneiss ashlars but the nave was made of rubble with sandstone fittings. Only the chancel and the transepts remain today. The layout is of the Fontenay type, which is also the case in Roma, the daughter house of Nydala on the island of Gotland. The remains of Roma Abbey show that its chapels were not straight-ended, though,  but had shallow apses that seem to copy the transept apses of the first cathedral in Linköping. The preserved abbey of Alvastra´s daughter house at Varnhem, in the province of Västergötland, was begun in the 12 th  century but the chancel was rebuilt with an ambulatory after a fire in 1234. The abbeys of Alvastra, Nydala and Roma all share a trait that is not to be found in Fontenay or in Cistercian abbeys elsewhere. At the extreme west end of the aisles there are one or two small rooms, probably replacing the porch or  Paradies that is to be found in the façade of abbeys in France or Germany. Specific for the Swedish abbeys of the Order are also the cruciform windows in Alvastra, Roma and the Cistercian convent church at Vreta (Fig. 15), which was equipped with a new chancel and transepts in the first half of the 13 th  century. The  peculiar doorways of Alvastra are to be found at Nydala (Fig. 12) and Vreta, too. Some of the most elaborate Östergötland churches that were built at the same time as, or later than Alvastra Abbey, show some influence of Lund Cathedral. Almost all the Romanesque churches had a west tower and a chancel with an apse. Dressed masonry, as in the Cistercian churches, became widely used, especially in the east and centre part of the province where limestone can be quarried. When Linköping Cathedral was completely rebuilt in the mid-13 th  century the craftsmen introduced a new type of chisel, easily recognizable by the indented marks left on the surface of the stones. Except for town churches few entirely Gothic churches were built but existing churches were modernized with new windows and doorways. Dressed stones, broad chamfered plinths and early vaulting appear in several of the churches in the vicinity of Alvastra Abbey. Clearly Cistercian in character is the northern addition to the Romanesque nave of neighbouring Heda Church (Fig. 18). The new aisle has transversal  barrel vaults of the same kind as in the abbey (Fig. 19), supporting the longitudinal vault of   3 the nave. Ödeshög Church, one of the very few crowned by a tower, had its chancel vaulted in a similar way in the 13 th  century. According to Erik Lundberg the ribless vaults in Väversunda Church were modeled on the vaulting in the sacristy at Alvastra. A few of the other churches in the area were also modernized in the 13 th  century. At Rogslösa and Örberga the new cruciform chancels seem to be copying the eastern part of the abbeys of Alvastra and Vreta. Both churches have a well-dressed masonry and chamfered plinths in the interior as well as the exterior. Örberga Church has a three-partite window crowned by a small round window (Fig. 23), probably echoing the long lost chancel windows of Alvastra. At Rogslösa the south arm of the cruciform chancel has a unique straight-ended apse (Figs. 21, 43) that brings to mind the transept chapels of the monastery, as does the barrel vaulting. In the north cross arm there is a walled-up doorway of the same peculiar kind as in the abbey church. It is most likely that the Cistercians influenced the church architecture of the province, inasmuch as they seem to have introduced well-dressed masonry and vaulting. These were technical novelties, but there is no such thing as a Cistercian style. It was the abbey itself with its own individual traits that became a model for the churches in the vicinity. Building work was continually carried out at Alvastra for the duration of the Middle Ages. The present author argues that this makes it likely that the monastery workshop was involved in the rebuilding of the surrounding churches.
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