Æbelholt Abbey Ruins

Hillerød, Denmark

Æbelholt Abbey was first established on Eskilsø Island in Roskilde Fjord in 1104. While no remains of the wooden abbey have survived, the stone abbey church there still remains, though in ruins. It was 24 meters long and had a nave, choir, and apse in the Romanesque style. The monks became 'unruly' and Bishop Absalon of Roskilde, determined to obtain a new Augustinian superior, sent for his friend, William, abbot of the abbey of Sainte-Geneviève in Paris.

In 1167 the abbey moved to Æbelholt in Tjæreby, supported by a donation of land from Absalon in Tjæreby Parish and endowed with several income-producing farms, tithes from many north Zealand churches, and several mills. The monastery on Eskilsø was closed. The first church and abbey at Æbelholt were made of timber. Construction began almost immediately on a new abbey church of limestone which was completed in 1210.

Abbot William experienced considerable initial difficulties. The three French canons returned to Paris, finding conditions in Denmark too bleak. A few of the Danish canons plotted to murder him when he ordered that they eat 'herbs and leaves' instead of their usual meals. The 'Life of St. William' notes some of the ways in which they considered killing him, either by setting fire to a pile of straw near his bed in the dormitory, putting him in a sack and drowning him, or taking an axe to him. Eventually William's piety, fairness, wisdom, and intelligence won them and the local populace over. He was considered a saint in his own lifetime. He was highly regarded by several kings of Denmark and served as an intermediary between the pope and the Danish monarchy.

Abbot William died on 5 April 1203 at the age of 75. Miracles at his grave and in connection with his relics brought pilgrims in great numbers, and the abbey developed into the greatest Augustinian house in the north. By 1210 the list of miracles and signs recorded was so great that the Archbishop of Lund, Anders Sunesen, petitioned Pope Honorius III for his canonization. In 1219 the pope authorized several bishops to investigate the claims with an eye to making William a saint. The result was a book The Life of Abbot Williamwhich was submitted for the pope's consideration.

William was canonised in 1224. On 16 June 1238 with great ceremony William's body was translated to lie inside the high altar in the new abbey church. A small separate chapel was constructed over the his previous grave, so pilgrims could visit without disturbing the monks. In time relics of Saint William were given to Roskilde Cathedral, Lund Cathedral, the Church of Our Lady (Vor Frue Kirke) and Greyfriars Church in Copenhagen, and Greyfriars Church in Roskilde.

By 1230, the monastery housed 25 canons regular, but fed about 100 persons daily. This wide hospitality was funded, as were the abbey's other expenditures, by the revenues of its estates, situated locally and also in Copenhagen and in Halland, and from the dues from the nearby market. Augustinians were interested in farming and improving crops. They hired lay brothers to do the farm work and oversee the temporal affairs of the abbey.

The abbey complex consisted of a quadrangular set of buildings with the church as the north range, round a central cloister and cloister garth. The buildings were constructed of brick, the most common building material at the time. One of the most unusual parts of the abbey was the lavatory which had running water from a ditch, on which it is possible a mill also stood.

The church was expanded before 1324 with a longer nave, a crossing, and choir with an apse. Several side chapels were added dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Saint John the Baptist, Saint John the Evangelist and Saint George. The high altar was dedicated to Saint Thomas.

After the Reformation in 1535 all religious houses and their income properties reverted to the crown. The abbey church was converted to the large parish church for Tjæreby andAlsønderup Parishes, while the conventual and service buildings were granted as a fief to Christoffer Trundsen in 1544, with the provision that he should maintain the last remaining canons under Abbot Anders Ibsen. The abbey was formally dissolved in 1560; Abbot Ibsen was sent to the Carmelite priory in Helsingør where he died a year later.

In 1555 the parishioners complained that the abbey church was too big to maintain, and the royal order to demolish the entire abbey complex was given in 1561. The parish churches at Tjæreby and Alsønderup were spared. Much of the stone and brick was reused to construct the nearby Frederiksborg Castle and in local farms.

The site was excavated in the 1930s and 1950s, and the finds are now displayed in the near Æbelholt Abbey Museum. The outlines of the abbey church and complex have been exposed, as have the pillars from the refectory. Some of the many skeletons discovered during the excavations are on display and provide much information on historical illnesses and medical treatments.

A monastic garden was made here in 1957 as a reconstruction of the famous garden at the Abbey of St. Gall in Switzerland. The garden contains over a hundred medicinal plants known to have grown in such gardens in Denmark in the Middle Ages.

The Folk Museum in Hillerød has published a little volume entitled Æbelholt Klosterhave af Kirsten Baunegaard describing the herbs and medicinal plants in the garden. Almost from the time the abbey was established here a market has been held alongside, initially beginning on 16 June, the feast day of the abbey's founder, Saint William. Formerly the market lasted for 14 days. The market is now under the auspices of the Folk Museum in Hillerød, who have arranged it every year from 1998; it now lasts for a weekend.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 1167
Category: Ruins in Denmark
Historical period: The First Kingdom (Denmark)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Literally (4 years ago)
Susanne Søe Saltzstein (4 years ago)
Vi mangler foredraget om ruinerne og et besøg i ro og mag, når der ikke er marked. Til gengæld er den ældre herre i udstillingen fuld af historier og gør museet meget interessant. Spørg ham hvis du vil have historierne med.
Rikke Bek Hansen (4 years ago)
Hyggeligt lille sted, man får noget for pengene til markedet.
Michael Nielsen (5 years ago)
Vær sikker på at få en rundvisning, overraskende interessant
Graham Rimmington (7 years ago)
Æbelholt Monastery Museum is all about the Ruin, which is a short walk away. Opening hours 1 May to 31 October: Tuesday - Sunday 11-16 kr.20 though kr.100 for all museums in North Sjælland Archaeological excavations in the 1930-60 exposed the abbey's foundations and approximately 800 skeletal tombs. The abbey is among the largest Nordic medieval cemeteries.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.