Historic church found in Uppsala

Uppsala Cathedral could be built on the remains of the church where Saint Erik, Sweden's patron saint, was killed, archaeologists say.

Investigations at the 13th century cathedral, which is the largest church building in northern Europe, have revealed the remains of an earlier building underneath the high altar.

Archaeologists used ground penetration radar to find the remains, which they say could be the remains of the old Holy Trinity Church, which was known to have stood in Uppsala before the present cathedral was built.

It was not known until now where the church was situated.

Archaeologists have also found seven graves under the floor of the high altar, and eight graves under the catherdral’s southern doors, reports Uppsala Nya Tidning.

Holy Trinity Church plays a significant part in Sweden’s national story. Erik Jedvardsson, king of Sweden, was murdered outside the church in 1160 by Danish pretender Magnus Henriksson. Erik’s son later made him a saint, and he is now patron saint of Sweden.

Legend has always maintained that the Holy Trinity Church was situated on the Domberget, where the cathedral now stands, but this has never been confirmed, nor has its exact location ever been found.

But archaeologists, while cautious in their conclusions, say that the building that they have found under the cathedral, with its rounded choir, is typical of a Romanesque church built in the 12th century.

The location of the remains also fits with the archaeologists’ theories. That the cathedral’s high altar – the most sacred part of the cathedral – is placed over the location of the church would be symbolically appropriate, they say.

“That the church existed has been known, but its location has not,” Ronnie Carlsson, archaeologist at Uppsala Museum told Svenska Dagbladet.

“This is the most logical location. If the church was anywhere, it should have been here,” he said.