St. Clement’s Church


The Newly discovered ruins

St. Clement’s Church

In 2016, archaeologists believed they had found St. Olav’s famous St. Clement’s Church. Now it turns out that this is probably not true. That doesn’t make the find any less interesting.

About the excavations

In 2016, a new commercial building was planned to be built in the courtyard behind Søndre gate 9-11 in Trondheim. Because this was a central area in Kaupangen, the name for Trondheim city during the Middle Ages, the archaeological excavation attracted a great deal of attention.

Gradually, a number of stone fragments were uncovered which were interpreted as the remains of a church, or several phases of a church. Archaeologists also uncovered a number of other items, including the remains of a large stone altar, fragments from a baptismal font, a crucifix, parts of a well and several skeletons in an adjacent cemetery.

Carbon dating tells us that the church must have been erected around the year 1015. At the time of the excavations, they were almost certain that this was Olav Haraldsson’s St. Clement’s Church. This is the church where Olav Haraldsson became “Olav the Holy” when the saint’s shrine was solemnly placed on the high altar on 5 August 1031. The location had finally been found – but now they are not so certain anymore!

The presentation of more recent datings, clearly shake the image formed by St. Clement’s Church. Although the materials are from the period when Olav lived, the buildings under the church are dated to 1060. Thus, the church above cannot be located here by Olav Haraldsson.

The media coverage

There were national and international newspaper articles about the excavations of St. Clement’s Church, including a series in Adresseavisen. The Directorate for Cultural Heritage described the find as an archaeological sensation, and the most important discovery in Norway since the Second World War. The find was also ranked sixth overall on the International Heritage Daily’s “top-ten list” of archaeological discoveries in 2016.

The Viking-era buildings that were excavated under the excavations give us new knowledge about Trondheim’s origins. They indicate that the city is older than 997, which has traditionally been considered the year when Olav Tryggvason founded Trondheim.


Krambugata 2, 7011 Trondheim

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