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Eva Ahl-Waris (Paper given at the Birgitta Conference 2011, Stockholm):

The Use of History in Naantali and the Creation of the Commemorative Anatomy of the Monasterys
Memory Landscape
Where the stones would cry out was a header in May 1925 in the newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet in Finland
to an article written by editor in chief, Amos Anderson (18781961),
who had gathered a considerable wealth
during his youth and taken a keen interest of his countrys past by fnancially supporting many projects around
it. His text in 1925 brings forth the site of the ruins of the Birgittine monastery in Naantali (fg. 1), among
others. The expression about the stones that would cry out derives from the Bible (Luke 19:3740), but was
used by acteurs both in Naantali and Pirita
, in the attempts to create a meaning for the historical ruins on the
sites. Anderson was one of the acteurs that took interest in the Birgittine memory during the Interwar period,
which will be discussed in this article. Historical jubilees on the site in 1943, 1993 and 2003 will also be
presented shortly beside with the antiquarian interest of the site.
The Birgittine monastery of Naantali/Ndendal, Vallis gratiae, was founded in 1438 in the Swedish diocese
of Turku, in nowadays Finland. In the early 1440s it was placed in Raisio and soon after a city was found in
its vicinity. After the reformation in the 16
Century the buildings slowly degenerated and the monasterys
era ended in the 1590s.
The church was turned into a parish church and is still standing and used, but the
1 Dr stenarna tala, Hufvudstadsbladet 10.5.1925.
2 Pirita klooster 1940, pp. 6869.
3 E.g. Heikkil & Lehmijoki-Gardner 2004, pp. 364368; Uotila 2011.
Fig. 1. The church of the
Birgittine monastery in
Naantali is the only building
that remain of the institution
today. The belltower in west
is from the 18
Century. Photo
from SE by M. Waris 2009.
monastical buildings became ruins that caught a new attention of the antiquarians in the 19
Century. The site
of the monastery thus became a realm, or in this case a place of memory, where the stones were considered to
be able to tell something to the contemporaries.
In the 18
Century scholars became interested in the history of the monastery as a form of local history. It was
worth pointing out a high age of a place and of course, its importance as a place of power.
In the 19
scholars of the Grandduchy of Finland under Russian rule had a need to write the history of the nation as was
the case in large parts of Europe. When this national history was created,
also Naantali was lifted forth as a
historical place for learning and peace.
Methodological approach
The relation between the sciences archaeology and history, their role in creating popular images of history is
a theme much discussed lately. Books and scientifc works on use of history has been vastly published during
the last ten years and more. Scientifc and popular images tend to coincide and form so called historyculture.
During the last decade this type of approach to e.g. historical sites has been taken by professor Peter Aronsson
among others.
The interest for the monastic site in Naantali can be considered as a case study of use of history.
The theme also consider the process of nation-building in Finland during the 19
and the 20
In an attempt to study the view of Naantali various historical images has been considered, both written
accounts by academic scholars as well as popular writings and pictures in the press and literature made by
journalists and artists. Personal material as letters and diaries has also been taken into account. The raising of
commemorative monuments on the site has also been considered. All this participated in creating the site of
the ruins of the monastery in Naantali as a realm of memory, lieu de mmoire. The study has considered the
process in the same way as e.g. the study of the creation of icons of the French past and identity that has been
analysed by Pierre Nora.
The term commemorative anatomy derives from an article by Hannah Lewi that
analyses the creation of a memorial park in the 19
and 20
Century in Perth in Australia.
It is used in the case
of Naantali as the site of the ruins was created with monuments etc. in a similar fashion.
Methodologically the view of Naantali is in the felds of the history of ideas and cultural history, but also the
history of archaeology as history has been taken into consideration. The case of Naantali has been compared
to some fairly recent works by scholars in Sweden and Finland (Gustafsson, Fewster, Salminen, Bentz among
which strive to deconstruct the constructed image of the past.
4 For earlier studies in the subject and a more thorough analysis, see Ahl-Waris 2009; Ahl-Waris 2010a; Ahl-Waris 2010b.
With the term realm of memory I refer to Pierre Nora, see Nora 19961998.
5 E.g. Legnr 2004, p. 15.
6 E.g. Fewster 2006. With national (Swe. nationell) in this sense I mean that it claims to consider the whole nation of Fin-
land (1809) and I also use it for describing a person as a mild synonyme to being patriotic or nationalistic (...som r l. knner sig
nra knuten vid den egna nationen o. som stter denna frmst o. sker att befrmja dess intressen o. d., fosterlndsk, patriotisk.).
See SAOB, (18.1.2012).
7 E.g. Aronsson 2004; Aronsson 2009. In the case of Naantali the use of history is mainly a political and religious one.
Aspects on tourism will not be taken into account in this article, but could be a fruitful subject of study in relation to archaeological
sites in Finland at large.
8 Nora 19961998.
9 Lewi 2000.
10 Fewster has studied how the view of a glorious past was created with a so called Fennoman paradigm, i.e. how invented
nationalistic images of the late Iron Age and early Middle Ages was used in nation-building in Finland. Salminen has studied the
interest in the prehistory of Finland and Russia in the late 19
Century. See Fewster 2006; Salminen 2003; Bentz 2008. About the
The antiquarian interest and the invention of the national, historical site in Naantali
The role of archaeology in the creation of a national memory landscape is also visible in Naantali. The ruins
were considered interesting and were excavated in the 19
Century. Naantali was among the realms, in this
case places, of memory in Finland that was presented in a vast work by the scholar and writer Zacharias
Topelius (18181898) in 1845.
The monastery of Naantali and its last nun was also a theme in one of the
frst historical novels in Finland in the mid-19
The ruins of Naantali was frst mapped (fg. 2) and published by the scholar Sven Gabriel Elmgren (1817
1897) in 1863. The view of the ruins was romantic and the study was compiled in the same fashion as in the
Century, starting from depicting the landscape and nature, to focusing on the history of the order and the
site of Naantali itself.
When doing his research, Elmgren wrote in his diary that he spent time in the Naantali
spa near the site according to the fashion of the society of his time. A theologian and son of a priest, he also
married the daughter of the parish priest in Naantali.
Elmgren had studied at the Imperial Alexander-University (nowadays University of Helsinki) that had moved
to Helsinki from Turku, the only university in his country at the time. At this time he was also active in the
Finish Literature Society founded in 1831 and participated in a group, the historical section, interested in
history within the same society in the 1860s. The members of the group were scholars especially interested in
publishing sources to the history of Finland.
The group was ideologically so called Fennomans, emphasizing
the national Finish culture and the importance of the Finish language etc. At this time intellectuals in Finland
were infuenced by nationalism as was the fact all over Europe. A national historyculture was forming among
the intellectuals at the university in Helsinki and many historical societies were also established.
history of archaeology as history, see Gustafsson 1996. The term nation-building is used here as defned by e.g. William Bloom:
nation-building describes the process whereby the inhabitants of a states territory come to loyal citizens of that state. See
Bloom 1990, pp. 1, 5455.
11 Topelius 1845. In this work he presented historical sites in the same fashion as a similar work by Georg Henrik Mellin
(18061875) published in Sweden in 1840. See Mellin 1840.
12 E.g. Runeberg 1862.
13 Elmgren 1863.
14 Elmgren 1939, pp. 458465.
15 Sulkunen 2004, p. 95.
16 E.g. Klinge 1967, pp. 127131; Klinge 1996, pp. 3443; Fewster 2006, pp. 92, 146150.
Fig. 2. The ruins of the Birgittine monastery
in Naantali was frst mapped by Sven
Gabriel Elmgren in the 1860s. From
Elmgren 1863.
Due to the fact that the so called Iron Age in Finland had not been invented yet, it was logical to emphasize
the medieval remains and memories in the project of building the Finnish nation in the 19
and his colleagues in the historical section especially emphasized Finland as a western country, focusing on
its medieval, Christian past. One of the youngest members in the group was Reinhold Hausen (18501942),
born in the Aland islands, who later edited and published the medieval sources to the history of Finland, a
work began by his predecessors.
Hausen excavated the ruins of the monastery in 1872 and 1873. According to the science of his time, the main
focus was on structures as the walls. The area was then flled up with dirt again after the walls were mapped
(fg. 3).
The method used was similar to the methods used by the contemporary antiquarians in e.g. Sweden
and Germany in the science of so called Kunst-Archeologie.
Hausen had taken part in excavations already
in the late 1860s conducted in the site of the ruins of the Franciscan convent in Kkar on the Aland islands.
The excavations were led by the scholar Karl August Bomansson (18271906),
who had written his thesis
about the pre-historical and historical monuments on the islands in 1858 and made the frst excavations while
conducting research for this thesis.
Bomansson was also a member of the historical section. The aim of the
researchers was to gather information about a site in a holistic fashion, make observations and publish the
results. In the case of Naantali, Hausens process of making a publication took 50 years.
Commemorations, religious practise and use of history in Naantali during the Interwar period
Eventually in 1922 Hausens research was published
by Amos Anderson, born in Kemi in the archipelago
of South Western Finland, who was mentioned earlier as a member of a next generation interested in the
Birgittine legacy. For Anderson the site had a historical and religious importance and he wrote an essay in
Hufvudstadsbladet in 1920 depicting a meeting between a guest and the site. The guest visited the site and was
17 Fewster 2008, p. 102.
18 E.g. Sulkunen 2004, pp. 9598, 114-115, 123.
19 Hausen 1922.
20 Otte 1868 (4
edition); Valkeap 2000, pp. 146147.
21 See e.g. Hiekkanen 1993.
22 Bomansson 1858.
23 Hausen 1922.
Fig. 3. The ruins were excavated by Reinhold Hausen and crew with spades
according to the fashion of the time in 18721873. Photo by R. Hausen in 1872,
from Hausen 1922.
drawn back in time to witness the rites of the nuns and brothers in the church. In a fash he was back, refecting
on the passing of time
a vanitas motive.
The teacher and church historian Julius Finnberg (18771955) from Turku read the article and wrote to
Anderson about Naantali. Finnberg had taken interest in Naantali earlier, participating in forming a society for
a museum in the small city. Finnberg had visited Sweden in 1920 and happened to witness a vesper arranged
by the Societas Sanctae Birgittae, founded in Vadstena at that time. The society grasped the ideals of the
High Church Movement and took an interest in the Birgittine legacy in Sweden. Finnberg and Anderson was
in vast contact to the members of SSB and later on also to the members of Birgittastiftelsen, whos aim was
to preserve most of all the antiquarian legacy of the Birgittines. Finnberg and Anderson wanted to arrange a
similar vesper in Naantali in 1921. This event was held in the memory of St. Birgitta the 23
July. To emphasize
the importance of Naantali, Finnberg and Anderson also raised a commemorative monument on the site of
the ruins outside the church. In this frst commemorative vesper the wife of the president of the fairly young
republic Finland also participated together with hundreds of people. The monument of Jns Budde (fg. 4) had
been raised after excavations by state antiquarian Juhani Rinne (18721950). The stone was a commemoration
for the Jns Budde, a brother of the monastery in the 15
Century that was considered Finish in origin and
is considered to be the so called frst writer in Finland as he has written a short story of how his work with a
translation of the work of St. Mechtild progressed.
It seems obvious that the activity of Anderson, Finnberg,
Rinne and others involved, was a form of nation-building in the site of the ruins of Naantali monastery. The
fact that the summer residence of the president was situated on the other side of the stream from Naantali, in
Gullranda, is also important for the view of the site as a national place of memory.
24 Hufvudstadsbladet 28.11.1920.
25 Te vesper arrangements have earlier been discussed by Torsten Steinby and Anna-Kaisa Tenhunen, see Steinby 1978;
Steinby 1979; Tenhunen 2004. A vast collection of letters from Finnberg to Anderson is kept in the National Library in Helsinki:
SLSA 900.1, National Library, Helsinki, Finland. For recent information about the medieval brother Jns Budde, see Lamberg 2007.
Fig. 4. The memorial
stone erected in 1921,
situated west of the
church in Naantali, for
the medieval brother
Jns Budde. Photo by E.
Ahl-Waris 2010.
During the Birgittajubilee in Sweden in 1923 attention to Birgitta and her legacy was also present in Finland.
The arranging of vespers continued in Naantali and Anderson wrote the play Vallis gratiae that was preformed
in Helsinki both in Finish and in Swedish. The play also toured to Sweden and later to Austria. The archaeologist
Rinne acted a historical expert for the scenes of the play. During the 1920s Finnberg, Rinne and Anderson
cooperated in the restoration of the Turku Cathedral together with Swedish experts.
Finnberg and Anderson
also visited historical sites in Sweden with the help of their Birgitta Friends in SSB and Birgittastiftelsen,
and Anderson wrote romantic, historical accounts of the journey in his newspaper.
When the vesper was arranged in 1921 Finnberg also wanted to emphasize the memory of the monastery in
its material remains, i.e. the medieval objects deriving from Naantali that was kept in the National Museum of
Finland. He loaned the objects for an altar that was built for presenting the medieval altarpiece in the church.
The medieval altar was at this time held in a corner of the church and to emphasize it, Anderson fnanced a
wooden altarlike part below it, to hold it up. One of the medieval textiles was placed in this modern part of the
This piece was obviously kept in the church until the restorations in the 1960s. The medieval altarpiece
has since then been placed as a main altar in the eastern part of church.
The role of Naantali as a national realm of memory was also evident when Naantali in several occasions was
visited by the Swedish king, e.g. in 1936. On this occasion Amos Anderson guided king Gustav V around the
church (fg. 5). The kings visit was a theme in a novel for youngsters later on, in 1947. Boys fnd the treasure
of Naantali, i.e. an old manuscript, and is thus rewarded with medals by the visiting king (fg. 6).
Organizations in Sweden, Finland and also in Estonia started to warm up the memory of the Birgittines in sites
like Vadstena, Naantali and Pirita. In Naantali the Vallis Gratiae-yhdistys was founded and the organization
raised monuments in the vicinity of the ruins, among others a memorial stone for the nuns in 1931 (fg. 7).
26 Steinby 1979, pp. 2243.
27 E.g. Hufvudstadsbladet 5.7.1925; Appelgren 2009, p. 167. PhD Ingemar Lindarng has made a resumee and analysis of the
old and new jubilees of St. Birgitta in Sweden. See Lindarng 2007.
28 Finnberg 1937, p. 7. See also Appelgren 2009, p. 167.
29 Hariola 1947.
30 Naantalia... 1978, 1020.
Fig. 5. Amos Anderson guiding king
Gustavus V and President Paasikivi
outside the church in Naantali. Photo
prob. by J. Finnberg in 1936. Svenska
Litteratursllskapet i Finlands arkiv,
Helsinki, Finland.
Fig. 6. The cover of a novel for youngsters by H. Hariola about the
treasure in Naantali. From Hariola 1947.
Fig. 7. A memorial stone erected in 1931 for the memory of the nuns in
Naantali. Photo by E. Ahl-Waris 2009.
Historical jubilees in Naantali
History was much used during the great 500
jubilee of the city of Naantali in 1943. In the background were
again Finnberg and Anderson among others. The citys politicians were also involved in underlining both the
historical greatness of the past and the strength in the small, but evolving city of Naantali now a place with
industry and a harbour. Anderson participated by giving the city a present in form of a copy of the medieval
manuscript of the citys foundation and by participating in restoring the doors of the church. On these doors
Anderson also ordered a small commemorative monument to be set up in form of two copper plates: a gift
from a passer-by for the memory of the monastery that once were, claims the text (fg. 8). The jubilee at large
was a national event during the heavy wartime and in several speeches the history of the monastery as a place
of peace and learning was emphasized. The festive medallion for the jubilee was designed by artist Jussi
Vikainen and depicted Jns Budde outside the church.
In the 1960s the church was restored, as mentioned previously. In connection to this an excavation of the
church was undertaken. The work was led by arthistorian Henrik Lilius.
The interest for the medieval
monastery continued, but the vast interest bloomed up again in Finland in the 1990s. The 550
jubilee of the
city became a big event in 1993 during the hard times in an economic crisis. The city of Naantali arranged the
festivities together with the parish. The Swedish king, this time Carl XVI Gustaf and queen Silvia, once again
visited Naantali together with President Mauno Koivisto in August 1993.
Since the 1980s the Birgittine
order had returned to Finland, to Turku, and modern nuns were now also taking part in the jubilee.
A new
commemorative monument was raised beside the church, on the south side; a nun by artist Raimo Heino (fg.
9). Jns Budde was no longer as visible as the nuns in the use of history during this jubilee.
During the 560
jubilee of Naantali the city was a part of a larger network, Societas Birgitta Europa, and
part of the international jubilee of St. Birgittas birth in 2003. A national monument was now created for the
memory of the saint, in form of a stamp. The picture of Birgitta that was chosen to depict the saint was the
statue of Birgitta in the medieval altarpiece in the church of Naantali. The idea to make a stamp derived from
the organizing committee in Naantali, a group of people representing the city and the parish. On a national
31 E.g. Uusi Suomi 24.8.1943. E.g. SLSA 900.1, National Library, Helsinki, Finland, letter from Julius Finnberg to Amos
Anderson 26.7.1943. See also Steinby 1979, p. 29.
32 Lilius 1969.
33 Citys 550
Jubilee H36a, City of Naantalis archives, Finland, letters and programs; Hufvudstadsbladet 17.8.1993.
34 Vuorela 1989, pp. 360363.
Fig. 8. The cupper plates that commemorate
the monastery in Naantali were fastened on
the doors of the church in the belltower in
1943. Photo by E. Ahl-Waris 2009.
level Birgitta also got a red and a white wine, and a piece a jewellery made by designer Kirsti Doukas for
Kalevala Koru that has specialized in national themes. The brooch has the international symbol of the order
depicting the crown of the nuns with the drops of blood of Christ, but combined with leaves from the medieval
grave monument for St. Henry, the legendary frst bishop of Finland, in Nousis.
Concluding remarks
An interest for the physical remains of the monastery remained. Before the jubilee in 2003 the organizing
committee was very keen on restoring the site and excavating the walls etc. But the work would be too costly.

This had been stated already by Juhani Rinne in the 1930s, when he made a plan to conserve the ruins. The
plan had been too expensive back then too.
During the last decades of the 20
Century a new wave of archaeological interest in the medieval cities swept
over Scandinavia, including Finland. The city of Naantali was researched as well as parts of the church. In
the frst years of the 21
Century scholars returned also to the monastic area. Excavations in the church and
in the old town of Naantali in the 1990s had revealed interesting new data about the history of the city and
the monastery. New excavations were conducted north of the area of the former monastery in 2005 by the
University of Turku, led by docent Kari Uotila. The work was done due to a need to enlarge the graveyard by
the parish. Thousands of fnds and 400 kilograms of bonematerial were unearthed and will be analysed for
years to come.

The excavations resulted in a 3-D-model of the monastery that is available on the internet.

35 Archive of Te National Committee for the 700
Jubilee of St,. Birgitta in Finland, National Library, Helsinki, Finland, pro
memorias from meetings 20012003.
36 Lasse Lehtonens archive of the jubilee 2003, Te City of Naantalis Archives, Finland, copy of letter from Rauno Heikola
to Naantalis City Council 19.8.1997.
37 Archives of the National Board of Antiquities, Helsinki, Finland, copy of letter from Juhani Rinne to Naantalis City
Council 18.11.1931.
38 Uotila 2011. For the 3-D model, see Naantalin keskiaikaa etsimss, http://www.muuritutkimus.f/naantali/index.
php?option=com_content&task=view&id=58&Itemid=69 (18.1.2012).
Fig. 9. The nun by Raimo Heino was erected south of the church in Naantali
in 1993. Photo by E. Ahl 2003.
This model could be considered as the latest antiquarian image of the site and thus as a form of image and
monument in electronic form.
The interest for both the material and immaterial legacy of Naantali went hand in hand for the acteurs and
this has been manifested in monuments on the site itself or in vicinity of it. If a map of the commemorative
anatomy of the area of the ruins of the monastery and around the remaining church is drawn up (fg. 10),
various layers of images of the site is seen. The Birgittine monuments are in lila: the stone of Budde, the stone
for the nuns, the monument for the warheroes (as it actually has a Birgittine nun depicted as the lady in the
piet pose with the soldier, fg. 11) and the nun from 1993. One monument has disappeared: the lower part of
the altar made for the vespers in the 1920s. The interpretations of the layout of the buildings is also seen here
as images of the site: the maps drawn by Elmgren and Hausen. These have also formed a part of the invention
of this landscape that originally consisted of green small humps and bumps in the ground now turned during
a period of 150 years into a memorial park flled with commemorative monuments, thus creating a heritage
site with its historyculture. In conclusion, as the stones do not cry out, words have been given them by people.
Fig. 10. The commemorative anatomy of the site of
the Birgittine monastery in Naantali, Finland. By E. Ahl-
Waris 2010.
Te memorylandscape
of Naantali Monastery
Map by Elmgren
Map by Hausen
Prob. site of excavation
Prob. site of excavation
Monument: other
Monument: Birgittine theme
Monument: War theme
Monument: disappeared
Fig. 11. The memorial for the warheros of the II World War was made by Jussi
Vikainen. Photo by M. Waris 2009.
The City of Naantalis Archives, Finland:
Citys 550
Jubilee H36a:
Letters and programs.
Lasse Lehtonens archive of the jubilee 2003:
Copy of letter from Rauno Heikola to Naantalis City Council 19.8.1997.
Archives of the National Board of Antiquities, Helsinki, Finland:
Copy of letter from Juhani Rinne to Naantalis City Council 18.11.1931.
National Library, Helsinki, Finland:
SLSA: Archive of Freningen Konstsamfundet, Amos Andersons brevsamling (Svenska Litteratursllskapets arkiv), 900.1:
Letters from Julius Finnberg to Amos Anderson and copies of letters from Anderson to Finnberg, 19201955.
Archive of The National Committee for the 700
Jubilee of St,. Birgitta in Finland, Coll. 739:
Pro memorias from meetings 20012003.
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