Gustavianum

The Nordic Prehistory Collection

Uppsala University’s Museum of Nordic Prehistory was officially founded in 1857 when Professor Johan Herik Schröder donated his prehistoric collection to the University.

Initially featuring 79 items, the collection was expanded significantly already in 1861 when Count von Essen of Wik donated his collection of 201 prehistoric objects and weaponry to the Museum.

Later, the collection was augmented with a mineralogical component, including a small stone axe with runes. The following year major A.F.M. Lundeberg's collection, amounting to over 600 prehistoric objects and weapons from different ages, was purchased for 4 000 Swedish riksdaler.

During the 20th century, the flow of donations and purchases of smaller and larger size continued.

From runes to horse harness 

Some of these were: the Observatory's collection of rune staffs, the second largest in Sweden; Friherre Cederström’s collection of prehistoric objects and folk arts and crafts; as well as Schürer von Waldheim's extensive collection of folk arts and crafts, principally from Roslagen.

An archaeological survey was conducted 1907-1909 of Studentholmen in Uppsala, as preparation for the construction of a market hall. The extensive medieval finds became part of the prehistoric collection.

In connection with the excavations at Valsgärde in 1928-1936 and 1946-1952, the Museum received the magnificent finds consisting of weapons, helmets and horse harness from about 400-1100 AD.

The collections were first displayed in Gustavianum but were moved in 1870 to newly furnished premises in the Ekerman building. In 1897 the collections moved again, to the Orangery in the Linnaeus Garden, before returning in 1921 to Gustavianum, where they have been exhibited until the present day.