Medieval Roof Structures in Sweden
Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet), 2005

Churches in Sweden began to be built when Christianity was introduced at about the end of the first millennium. The churches gradually became important buildings generally located in the centre of a community. These early churches are now virtually the only buildings preserved in Sweden from medieval times. In the attics of the churches, a unique collection of timber roof trusses from the twelfth century and onward can be found. The church buildings usually have gabled roofs with gables of masonry. They can either have a nave, choir and apse, only a nave and choir, or be hall churches. The roof structures carry their load from wall to wall, crosswise to the longitudinal direction of the building, without use of a separate longitudinal bracing system. Longitudinal stability is achieved by the board covering and sometimes by diagonal beams between the rafters. The roof structure of the early Romanesque churches was clearly visible. Later, roof structures were concealed by ceilings. With the entry of Gothic architecture, many churches became vaulted. The structural load-carrying principles used evolved during medieval times. The early structures had tie beams connecting opposite sides of the roof at the base of them. When churches became vaulted, other approaches to supporting the horizontal thrust were developed.

Swedish churches

Structural behaviour


Roof truss

Medieval roof structures


Carl Thelin

Chalmers, Arkitektur

Traditional & Innovative Materials & Techniques in the Conservation of Historic Structures

973-9377-41-6 (ISBN)







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