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Kulturportal Lund

Guide to historical Lund and its cultural heritage

A short history of Lund



The archaeological excavations have made it possible to date the founding of Lund to around 990 A.D. during the reign of the Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard. A mint was established in 1019 by his son Canute the Great, thus confirming the importance of the new city.

Archdiocese 1103 A.D.
Already in 1060 an English chaplain, Henry, from the court of Canute the Great in Winchester was appointed the first bishop of the diocese of Lund. However, Denmark belonged to the archdiocese of Hamburg-Bremen during this period.

The elevation to an archbishopric in 1103 was a very important event in the history of Lund. It was the king, Erik Ejegod, who succeeded in having Pope Paschalis II make Lund the archbishopric seat of the Nordic countries. Asker became the first archbishop in 1104.

The medival Deanery, now movet to the cultural museum Kulturen

27 churches
Lund became an ecclesiastical centre during the Middle Ages. The city was referred to both as Metropolis Daniae and Scandinavia’s Rome. A donation made by Canute the Holy in 1085 created the economic conditions for the building of a cathedral and the founding of a cathedral school. A major shrine which was eventually built in honour of St. Laurentius. The crypt i.e. the eastern underground section was completed in 1123. The church was inaugurated in 1145 following the completion of the main altar.
In its medieval heyday, Lund had 27 churches including the monasteries. The majority of these were demolished after the reformation in 1536. Today, only the Cathedral and the St. Peter’s convent church remain. The remnants of the extensive Trinity church were excavated in the nineteen eighties and can now be seen in an underground museum (Drottens Museum).

Remnants of an age bygone
The most important and obvious reminder of the medieval city is the street system which retains most of its old character. Of the earthern rampart which surrounded Lund from the 12th century up the 19th century, some 600 meters can be studied in the City Park (Stadsparken). However, it is still fairly easy to follow the former rampart in the present street network. There were four main gates which over time were protected by brick-towers.
As far as brick-houses are concerned, only three still remain from medieval times. From the renaissance era a further four still stands in their original position. However, most of the ordinary dwelling-houses, which were built from wood with thatched roofing, and were subsequently destroyed by devastating fires that occurred in 1172, 1234, 1263, 1287 and 1452.

Danish and Swedish rule
Scania belonged to Denmark, however, the region was subjected to Swedish rule during the period 1332-1360. In 1452, the Swedish king invaded Scania and attacked Lund. In 1525, during a civil war relating to the reformation, a battle took place in the south of Lund.

The Catholic church’s power is broken
The reformation in 1536 resulted in Lund losing its central and privileged position in Denmark. In 1537, the Danish king ordered the dissolution of the monasteries and most of the churches in Lund were subsequently broken down. The last remaining archbishop was imprisoned. The middle ages ended in rubble-heaps but Lund subsequently acquired new roles even though Malmö had long since long had taken over the commercial centre of Scania. An example was when the king ordered the building of Lundagårdshuset in 1578-84. The building still stands today north of the Cathedral.

Slaget vid Lund
Battle of Lund by Erik Dahlberg

New wars in the 17th century
After another war with Sweden Denmark lost Scania through the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658. As a means to transform the newly formed provinces into integrated parts within the new homeland it was decided to found a university in Lund. This was inaugurated in 1668. However hostilities continued and in 1676 Denmark invaded Scania. In December that year the Danish army suffered a decisive defeat at Lund. The war however dragged on until 1679 when at last peace was restored to the region following negotiations in the Cathedral of Lund. In the final stages of the war Lund was set on fire by Danish soldiers. The devastation was extensive. In 1681 Lund regained its status an episcopal city. During the reformation all Danish bishops had been replaced by so called superintendents.

Sweden governed from Lund
In the beginning of the 18th century Lund was in poor shape. Fires raged in 1703 and 1711. To make matter worse the bubonic plague ravaged the city in 1712-13. In 1716 the arrival of Charles XII, who had finally returned home from the long campaign in Russia, provided some luster to the wasted city. Until 1718, when the king eventually left on his fatal expedition to Norway Sweden was governed from Lund. The king’s entourage numbering some 500 people meant both a substantial increase in population (approx. 1100 souls) and economical income for the bleak city.

Linnaeus and Hårleman
Carl Linneaus studied at Lund University in 1727. He then became closely associated with Uppsala where the first of Sweden’s universities on national soil was situated. At long last in the nineteen thirties, this internationally renowned botanist had a statue erected in his honour in St. Peter’s square (Petriplatsen).

Carl Hårleman, best known as the architect of the Royal Palace in Stockholm, was in the 1740’ies commissioned to redesign Lundagård, then belonging to the university. The surrounding brick wall was demolished in the 19th century, but one of the gates is preserved as the entrance to Kulturen (The Museum of Cultural History).

Borg and Berling
In the 18th century, a couple of companies were established that would later grow into major concerns. In 1734 Hans Borg started a dye works. This company flourished and became an important element in the expansion of Lund and would survive until the 1960’ies.

Worth mentioning is the printing firm, Berlingska Boktryckeriet, which in 1746 secured privileges as the academic print in Lund. The firm expanded in 1886 with the inclusion of a very well known type- foundry. In 1943 it was purchased by another major printing firm, Håkan Ohlssons and finally went out of business in the 1970’ies.

In 1775, the local newspaper Lunds Weckoblad (Lund’s Weekly), began publication. It survived for almost two centuries before publication terminated in 1970.

The expansive 19th century
During the 19th century, Lund began to flourish: the population increased, new companies were founded, many new dwelling-houses were built, two new public squares were erected, the hospital was expanded, the number of students rapidly increased and the school system further developed. In 1830, the Academic Society was formed and in 1851 given its own premises. In 1831 Otto Lindblad founded the student association for singing and its repertoire was enriched through new works.

Domkyrkan zettervall
Zettervall´s Cathedral

The cathedral restoration and the building of the new All Saints Church
The restoration of the cathedral, 1836-59, was led by the Professor of Greek, C. G. Brunius, a self-taught architect.
Zettervalls´s CathedralThe work was completed by his successor, architect Helgo Zettervall. The restoration was completed in 1880 and included the erection of two, completely new  towers. The cathedral’s interior has undergone many changes since the time of Zettervall who also designed the new city church, All Saints Church, which was inaugurated in 1891.

Technological advancement
Several technical advances appeared in Lund during the 19th century.  The railway between Lund and Malmö opened to traffic in 1856. The Central Station was completed in 1859. The gasworks made modern street lighting possible in 1863. In 1874 the first communal water-pipes began distributing fresh-water to the inhabitants of Lund. The first telephone directory appeared in 1884. A modern underground sewer system was built in the 1890’ies. In 1905 the city acquired its first own electrical power station. A sewage treatment plant began operations in 1933.

As a token for the modern Lund, a large industrial, handicraft and art exhibition was held in the summer of 1907. In 1909-11 the exhibition area was transferred to the City Park.

One of Sweden’s most important open-air museums, Kulturen, was founded in 1882, and ever since 1892 it has been open to the public within the current premises.

Two important museums belong to the university. The oldest is the Historical Museum east of the Cathedral. The Museum of Sketches has since 1934 been collecting studies and sketches for public art exhibition purposes.

At the end of the 19th century (1896-99), the internationally celebrated writer August Strindberg lived in Lund. Here where he wrote a couple of his most extraordinary and innovative works.

The city grows and flourishes
In 1913 and 1914 Lund started incorporating villages and farmland outside the city. Likewise in 1952 and in 1974, when Lunds Kommun (The community of Lund) was formed.

The packaging company Åkerlund & Rausing was established in 1938 and formed the separate company Tetra Pak in 1952. In 1966 Gambro was founded manufacturing artificial kidneys. Functioning as a liaison between industry and the university, the Ideon Science Park was founded in 1983. Through Max-lab 4 (the synchroton light facility) and ESS (The European Spallation Source), both now under construction, the university and Lund’s international profile will be further enhanced.
Lund continues to grow. Its population now exceeds 110,000 and the university currently numbers some 47,000 students.

Text: Margareta Wickström

  Senast uppdaterad 7 September, 2019 av Ingrid André
  Publicerad 19 October, 2014 av Ingrid André