Cultural deposits are the remnants of human activity over time. They are formed near human settlements, by the accumulation of waste materials and the remains of old building structures. Bryggen is built on top of such deposits – on refuse and the remnants of medieval buildings. In several places, the deposits beneath Bryggen are over 10 meters thick, and represent an invaluable, non-replenishable and endangered historical archive. Until the mid-20th century, the preservation conditions at Bryggen were very good, but today, the conditions are growing considerably worse for every passing year. As much as 30 cubic metres of deposits are lost every year. What has caused these changes in the preservation conditions? What consequences will the changes have for the cultural heritage site that is Bryggen? And what can be done to reverse the process, stop further deterioration, and re-create good preservation conditions?

Photo: Ann Christensson, Directorate for Cultural Heritage. Henning Matthiesen from the National Museum of Denmark examining the preservation conditions behind Nordre Bredsgården, where the groundwater levels have declined.