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Finland’s oldest church discovered near Turku

The ruins of what appears to be Finland’s oldest known church have been found close to the former capital, the west coast city of Turku.

Arkeologiset kaivaukset Kaarinan Ravattulassa.
Excavations at Ravattula, Kaarina. Image: Juha Ruohonen / Turun yliopisto, arkeologia

Archaeologists from Turku University found the well-preserved foundations of a stone church in the Ravattula district of Kaarina, just to the south of Turku. The church is believed to date from the 12th century.

The medieval structure is believed to have been around 10 metres high and six metres wide, and to have contained a separate prayer room. Excavations on the eastern edge of the church also uncovered what is believed to be the base of an altar.

The church is the first such structure found in Finland, despite 150 years of searching. Although burial grounds dating to the Iron Age and late medieval finds are common, no church had been found before the Kaarina ruins.

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