Stockholm

Museum of Medieval Stockholm

Stockholm Medieval Museum
Stockholm Medieval Museum

Smallish, focused museums in Stockholm isn’t going to become a theme in this blog. I promise. Besides, two data points do not a trend make, nor do two data points alone prove anything at all. But, yes, this post, which comes immediately after my post on Medelhavsmuseet, the smallish Stockholm museum focused on Mediterranean and Near Eastern antiquities, is on another smallish, focused museum. This one, the Museum of Medieval Stockholm is, not surprisingly, focused on the life and times in medieval Stockholm.

This is not to say that Stockholm is, rhetorically, now medieval in its ways or outlooks. Quite the contrary. It’s very modern. What I meant was that the Museum of Medieval Stockholm is a museum containing artifacts from the Middle Ages and exhibits that depict life during those times in Stockholm. But you probably figured that out, so, never mind.

In front of Stockholm Medieval Museum
In front of Stockholm Medieval Museum

Before some stickler comes along and says that it probably wasn’t called Stockholm back then, allow me to point out that, according to Wikipedia, the name Stockholm already appeared in texts dated in 1252. Whether or not you believe Wikipedia is up to you. (I think it’s healthy to have a somewhat skeptical mind about that and about pretty much everything.)

The Museum of Medieval Stockholm is mostly below ground level. I suppose I should have expected that of a museum that displays the results of archaeological excavations.

The entrance is through an arched doorway in a stone wall underneath a bridge. That sounds like a prime venue for trolls, doesn’t it? It’s not. The museum is on one end of a small island that the bridge crosses to get over the water on both sides of the island. That description probably makes much more sense if you look at the map that I’ll try to remember to include at the bottom of this post.

In front of the entrance to the museum is a lovely terrace overlooking the water that the bridge runs over.

City wall
City wall

Walled City

The largest artifact inside the museum is an excavated city wall. I hadn’t thought about it much before, but a lot of medieval cities and hill towns in various countries had walls built around them, whereas few modern cities or towns have them.

I suppose it’s a good thing that we no longer feel we need fortifications to protect our cities.  Although, I recognize that I may have sense of relative security primarily because I live in the “Western” world as opposed to, say, the Middle East.

An excavated pillar
An excavated pillar

Here, it’s reasonable to think of us as fairly safe and sound as long as you don’t consider murderers, rapists, muggers and irksome cretins. And, although they might garner glaring and blaring headlines, murderers, rapists and muggers are reasonably scarce. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same of irksome cretins. But all of those people are already in the city, so a wall won’t protect us.

Then again, maybe it’s not a sense of security. Maybe we no longer build city walls because a ten-foot, or whatever, high wall doesn’t offer much protection against the jets, missiles, rockets, helicopters, atomic bombs and nasty telemarketers that might threaten us in modern times.

But enough about city walls. The museum also displayed a lot of medieval artifacts that were much more portable than a wall and mostly without protective purposes. These included tools, religious symbols and the partial remains of a boat that was dug up when a canal was dredged in Stockholm.

A faux medieval baker
A faux medieval baker

Faux Folks and Premises

The Medieval Stockholm museum also contained a number of recreations of small medieval buildings. I think they were entirely recreations, with few if any actual Middle Ages artifacts. Inside some of the buildings were mannequins dressed up and posed as if they were performing the crafts that would have been performed in those structures in medieval times.

Outside of the structures, there was also a display of a mannequin on a fake horse, with another mannequin standing beside the mounted mannequin. The presence of armor on the mounted mannequin and a spear in the hands of the standing one and a helmet on his head makes me think that they were meant to represent military people. I believe that’s also what the plaque by the display said, but I’ve been tardy in writing this post, I forgot to take notes on it when I was there and my memory isn’t that good. So I’m not entirely certain of that.

A couple of faux medieval fighting dudes
A couple of faux medieval fighting dudes

I don’t know if the soldier mannequins represented recruits, but I suspect the horse was drafted. I seriously doubt it volunteered. Horses are way smarter than that.

Why did there have to be soldier mannequins in this representation of medieval Stockholm at all? Fighting, fighting, fighting. Didn’t people in medieval times understand what cities are supposed to be about? In no particular order: Bars, restaurants, coffee shops, theatres, stores, parks, apartments, condominiums, food carts and dens of iniquity. Oh, and peace, love and groovy. That’s what cities are supposed to be about. Not fighting. At least, not in my ideal city. Oh well. Never mind. The peace-loving rant of someone who became a teenager in the sixties is over. Let’s end this post, shall we?

Closing Thought

There’s just one more thing to say before I end it. Now that I think about it, I hope the faux folks were indeed mannequins. The possibility that they were skeletons of medieval people that were exhumed and then covered in artificial skin is far too macabre too think about. Well, maybe not too macabre to only think about because, obviously, I did think of it.

4 comments

  1. I like the bit about the city walls rant. The important part was how you got into the place. Underground, bridges … no trolls in sight, yet the poor baker has to lean in this unlikely position forever. This museum is more my kind and I would have enjoyed visiting to see the mannequins.

    1. Thanks. I like to rant. It exercises my inner curmudgeon. My outer curmudgeon doesn’t like to exercise. It lies around on the couch all day playing solo Scrabble against its iPad.

Been there? Done that? Do tell.