Stonemasonry on Gotland

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Sighraf baptismal font in Bro Church

The medieval stonemasonry art on Gotland is represented by the artists also known as the "Masters of Gotland ". Most of them began their work after completing the construction on Lund Cathedral in 1145. The works of art on and in the churches of the island were mostly created by unknown artists. But her works also made it abroad. Two of the stone sculptors are known by name, Hegwald and Sighraf. Both created baptismal fonts from Gotland limestone and sandstone ( sandstone quarries near Kättelvik ).

The influences of the Byzantine Church on Gotland are particularly evident during the Nordic Middle Ages, which began in 1050 AD. Up until the mid-13th century, Gotland's church art differed from that of the rest of the Baltic Sea region, including that of many regions in Sweden. Among the utensils of the 11th and 12th centuries, it is in particular the Kreuzanhäger and Enkolpien that follow Byzantine patterns. Regarding the influence of Russian-Byzantine art on Gotland, one has to know that there were lively trade connections between Gotland and the Kiev Empire, and even to Byzantium , at that time .

In Sweden, too, a discussion started in 2005 based on the Liljestenar about whether (southern) Sweden was not under the influence of the Eastern Church until the break between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in 1054. The “Stavkorshällar” in some churches also point in this direction. This influence could by marriage of the Danish King Waldemar I. (Denmark) with Sophia of Minsk have been taught that the half-sister of Knut V. was.

From the middle of the 13th century, only image-free baptismal fonts in the shape of a goblet with so-called shell cupas were created. An example can be found in the church of Martebo . This shows the normative influence of the Cistercians ( Roma monastery ) and the Dominicans and Franciscans who established themselves on the island at that time.

Baptismal fonts


Hegwald seems to be one of the early stone masons who worked on the island but did not come from here. He was already active around the middle of the 12th century and developed a very expressive style that was directed against the strict classicism of the pure relief style, as it was represented by those stonemasons who the researcher of Gotlandic church art, the art historian Johnny Roosval (1879 –1965), summarized under the names "Byzantios" and "Semi-Byzantios".

The combination of Old Norse and Christian materials in Romanesque form is typical of Hegwald . A work in which his peculiar style is well expressed is in the church of Vänge . The baptismal font shows detailed depictions of the creation story and the fall of man. Eight other preserved baptismal fonts in the churches of Endre , Etelhem , Ganthem , Halla , När , Sjonhem , Stånga and Viklau (all on Gotland) testify to his art .

Roosval discovered Hegwald's name in Latin capitals on a font in the church of Etelhem. In contrast to Sighraf's signature, it is not certain whether it is the name of the master or that of the founder of the stone. Regardless of this, he established himself as the name of the stonemason in art history literature.


Sighraf's baptismal font in Åkirkeby Church on Bornholm

Sighraf (or Sighrafr) was a student of Byzantios. He worked between 1170 and 1215. His formal language, which sometimes appears oriental, is more restrained than that of the rather "coarse" Hegwald. His workshop was in the south of the island. His favorite motif are the three kings. Baptismal fonts from him or from his workshop were usually carved from sandstone. They are widespread in the entire Baltic Sea region as far as northern Germany. So far, 24 have been identified, only six of them on Gotland. We know his name from a runic inscription on the baptismal font of Åkirkeby Church on Bornholm . This baptismal font forms the basis for determining the works of Sighraf. His art is best shown on the font in the church of Grötlingbo .

Other artists

In addition to the two artists known by name, there were others whom Roosval named after their formal language or their favorite motifs.


Byzantios was already active around 1150 AD and created works of art in the Byzantine style with demonic mythical creatures and ornamental plant motifs. His works, such as the baptismal font in the church of Garde , are reminiscent of reliefs in Orthodox churches in Russia .


The anonymous master Majestatis, who was so called by Johnny Roosval , worked around 1160 AD, first in Skåne , later on Gotland. It is believed that he may have received his education in Burgundy or Alsace . His work is shown in the baptismal fonts in the churches of Ekeby , Gerum , Lokrume , Stenkyrka , Valleberga (in Skåne) and Väskinde, as well as the church in Simris ( Simrishamn parish ) in Skåne. His main work is the baptismal font in Tryde ( Tomelilla municipality in Skåne), which is now in the church, which was built in 1868. It got its name because the Majestatis Domini motif (Christ as judge of the world in the mandorla ) is in the foreground. But he is also referred to as the "Master of Tryde".

At the feet of his baptismal fonts there are demonic monsters, similar to those of Hegwald, but on the cuppa of the baptismal font are clearly and sharply chiseled figures under schematic arcade arches. The majestic posture of the figures, both in profile and facing the viewer, is also indebted to the Byzantine formal language.

Fonts as export articles

In the first half of the 13th century, baptismal fonts from Gotland reached northern Germany as finished products via the Hanseatic League . In addition to the tombstones of the same origin, they are often among the oldest furnishings in churches. In the richer parishes, they were partly replaced by bronze fences during the Gothic period . This then led to the surrender of the Gotland baptismal fonts to younger parishes. For example, the Gotland Fifth of Lübeck Cathedral was sold in 1650 for a second use in the nearby village church of Klein Wesenberg .

Portals and sculptures

The portals of the country churches are among the relics of medieval Gotland art that are significant in terms of art history . They range from simple portals in Romanesque style, which are impressive only because of their design, to richly sculpted portals in the Gothic style with imaginative jewelry . Here three artists appear who were named after their motifs, since their names have not been passed down.


Neoikonicus, who created a series of figurative capitals around 1300 (e.g. in the churches of Bro , Källunge and Kräklingbo ).


Egypticus was active in the middle of the 14th century and also appears as the builder of some mighty gallery towers. A number of stately portals are ascribed to him. His most beautiful are probably the portal sculptures on the church of Stånga, which look Egyptian. This is especially true for his giant grimaces (at the church of Grötlingbo) and his three-dimensional representation. Its portal to the church of Gammelgarn with the story of creation from Adam to Noah is also very beautiful . The Egypticus workshop was certainly the largest on Gotland. The works were created according to patterns that were common property in every workshop. This explains the astonishing similarity between the capital friezes and sculptures of this time.


At the end of the 13th century, Fabulator created fascinating scenes from naive biblical motifs close to the people. Particularly noteworthy are the portal reliefs on the church of Martebo , which are among the best high-Gothic stone carvings in Gotland and are very well preserved.


Names and works of other masters have also survived, such as "Calcarius", who created the building sculpture for the church of Tingstäde around 1200 , or "Globus", to which the nave portal of the church of Alskog (before 1200) is ascribed.

See also


Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Discovery of Sighraf
  2. Riksantikvarieämbetet, Informationsavdelningen, Bebyggelseregistret: Grötlingbo kyrka  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  3. ^ E. Sauermann: The medieval baptismal fonts of the province of Schleswig-Holstein , p. 35
  4. ↑ In detail in Johannes Baltzer , Friedrich Bruns : The architectural and art monuments of the Free and Hanseatic City of Lübeck. Issued by the building authorities. Volume III: Church of Old Lübeck. Dom. Jakobikirche. Aegidia Church. Verlag von Bernhard Nöhring, Lübeck 1920, pp. 9–304. (Unchanged reprint 2001: ISBN 3-89557-167-9 , pp. 170f)
  5. Johnny Roosvall: Globe. En gotländsk stenmästare verksam omkr. 1160-80. In: Gotländskt arkiv. Vol. 14, 1942, ISSN  0434-2429 , pp. 40–52, online  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. .@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /