human remains on site at Gamla Uppsala, 1972 excavation
FOLLY AT GAMLA UPPSALA
Gamle Uppsala archaeological site; Uppland Province, Sweden
Inhabitant Zero Competition Entry
[UN]-timely Aesthetics Colloquium Submission
Architecture has always been fundamentally tied to propaganda. At the center of that connection lies the conception of dissemination as an architectural program.
Jarfalla municipality is situated within the greater Swedish province of Uppland, which historically served a major point of passage for Christianizing forces that entered Scandinavia between the 10th and 12th centuries. Uppland alone contains thousands of Norse rune-stones, a great number of which can be considered architectural-linguistic anomalies dating from the transitional period; that is, primarily Scandinavian monuments erected and co-opted by secondary Christian interests.
Among the very oldest of architectural inclinations, the standing stone--or inscribed stone--figures prominently into the morphology of pre-Christian Sweden. Our proposal re-positions the transformation of the rune-stone typology into a mediator, between pagan Scandinavia and the foreign interests that subsumed it. We might consider the possession of a Norse typology by the interest of the Church as an architectural question:
How did the convergence of language, rhetoric, and form induce a mutation in the architectural tradition of medieval Scandinavia? That question extends beyond the rune-stone typology. Uppland is also home to the famous archaeological site of the Temple at Gamla Uppsala; the heart of pre-Christian Norse religion and culture. The pagan temple was destroyed in the 11th. century and over the ruins was raised a church that still stands today. Archaeological probes into the nature of the ancient pagan temple have been greatly obscured by the Church.
There exists a long academic tradition devoted to parsing the Christian influence from accounts of Norse history. As it stands, figures like Saxo Grammaticus--a Latin-speaking 13th century Dane and a Christian, whose work was funded by the Archbishopric at Lund--are largely responsible for compiling the earliest Scandinavian histories. And while exhaustive, the work is colored by its patronage. The intent of our project is to open a discourse into considering medieval Scandinavian architecture in a similar light.
The scope of our proposal covers two initiatives. First, we will produce an academic essay, which investigates the role that architectural form played as a theater for the decline of the Norse religion and culture. In Uppland alone there are over 1,100 standing stones, 70% of which include Christian imagery. These objects of architectural transition, scattered throughout Jakobsberg and the surrounding area, together with the nearby site at Uppsala, will provide our research a physical laboratory. Second, we will produce a design proposal for an installation on the archaeological site at Gamla Uppsala, which concerns the cannibalization of the pagan temple by the Christian church.
Our design proposal will act as an illustrated polemic, and as a companion to the research paper; combining linguistic artifacts with the fundamental tools of architectural speculation on paper: Plan, Section, Elevation, and Perspective drawings.
Depicted is a fantastical folly at Gamla Uppsala comprised of the modern Church in elevation, the virtual church romanticized in section, and the massive trench required beneath to verify it. Included is the text inscribed on the 10th century Danish Jellingstenene, iconic relics from the transitional period that contain a depiction of Christ in the canonical form of Odin, signifying the cultural replacement. It reads:
"King Haraldr ordered this monument made in memory of Gormr, his father, and in memory of Thyrvé, his mother; that Haraldr who won for himself all of Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christian.”
church and royal burial mounds, c. 1930