(University of Turku, Finland)

Outline: The study concentrates on the construction and development of streets and squares of Turku, Finland, which was one of the major towns of the Swedish realm in the Middle Ages and formed a strategic gate to the east. The study composes a part of a larger research work where all construction activities of Turku are examined in detail and in historical context. According to recent archaeological excavations and dating results, the earliest phases of the town can be traced to the beginning of the 14th century. The main focus of the study is Turku in the early 14th–16th century, but for comparison the perspective is expanded both in time- and region-wise.

Abstract: Due to the preservation and availability of the material, the studies of medieval town and urbanity in Finland are concentrated in Turku, which was one of the biggest towns of the Swedish realm and the most important town situated in the area of present-day Finland. Until recently, the conceptions of medieval streets and squares of Turku (Finland) have been based on unproven notions, the oldest town chart from the 17th century and on the street names mentioned in a few preserved written sources. These conceptions have changed notably due to archaeological excavations conducted in the medieval town area in the past few years.

The study focuses on localizing and naming the medieval squares and streets, as well as development of their surfaces, size and maintenance. On the basis of the preserved material, we can say that the streets of Turku have been coated earlier and more systematically than previously stated and attention was paid also to the condition and sanitation of the streets and squares. Other results of the study comprise answers to the following questions: How the streets and squares were constructed, named and developed? What factors catalyzed and participated in these operations and activities? How did the street network, its growth and structure relate to the growth of the town as well as its building activities, socio-topographical space and social ambition of inhabitants? Since medieval streets, their maintenance and coating have been on the responsibility of the owners of the plots adjacent to the street they did not represent only town’s public space and transportation, but acted also as social forums for households and individuals.

Keywords: Streets, squares, Turku, Middle Ages