“The question is no longer if or why Bryggen should be preserved, but how we can go about saving it,” Asbjørn E. Herteig proclaimed in 1961. Herteig was the head of the archaeological excavations at Bryggen, and a leading figure in the process of preserving Bryggen – both the buildings and the cultural deposits beneath them. He was of the opinion that Bryggen embodied a shared Norwegian history, cultural heritage and identity which could bring together people from different parts of the country, and that it was something more than just “superfluous dead weight”.

Asbjørn Herteig (1919–2006) came from Northern Norway, but his heart belonged in Bergen. Having finished his magister’s thesis in archaeology, he arrived in Bergen after the fire of 1955 to lead the excavations at the site of the fire. He systematically collected all objects with any trace of human activity, whether jewellery or food waste, and the methods he developed for the Bryggen excavations form the basis for modern urban archaeology today. He was also pioneering in the use of computers to register the finds. Herteig was one of the co-founders of and organisers behind Bryggens Museum, and he played a crucial role in the founding of Friends of Bryggen and the Bryggen Foundation in 1962.

Asbjørn Herteig was interviewed for the archaeological magazine Arkeo (the Cultural History Collections) in 1991. The interview, Nordlendingen som forandret Bergen bys historie (“The Northerner who changed the course of Bergen’s history”, Norwegian only) can be found here.

Through his work, Asbjørn Herteig displayed a passion for disseminating the history of Bryggen, both to the scientific community and to a wider audience, and he wrote a number of books and articles on the subject:

1995: Fra saneringsobjekt til flaggskip. Bryggens Venner (Friends of Bryggen). Annual

1990/1991: The buildings at Bryggen: Their topographical and chronological development. Universitetsforlaget. Oslo.

1979: Prosjektet – Den vitenskapelige bearbeidelse av Bryggenmaterialet 1969-79. Bergen.

1979: Bryggens Museum. Bergen.

1969: Kongers havn og handels sete. Fra de arkeologiske undersøkelsene på Bryggen i Bergen 1955-68. Aschehoug. Oslo.

1962: Bryggen i fortid og fremtid. Bryggens Museum. Exhibition leaflet.

1961: Bryggen i Bergen. Grieg. Bergen