In the Late Roman Iron Age numerous farms made up a settlement near Gudme in the south-east of Funen. In the undulating landscape near Gudme lake, around 5 km from the Great Belt coast, Gudme’s heyday began in the 3rd century AD. This is a time in which the Roman Empire’s expansion and connections to the north are clearly reflected by the many finds from the area. The settlement reached its maximum size in the 4th and 5th centuries, when the total of farms was around 50. The numerous finds from Gudme show that the area was used for settlement right up until the Middle Ages. This is unusual, as Iron Age settlements in Denmark often moved to new and more favourable locations after only one or two generations. During the excavation it was deduced that the settlement could be divided into 9 different chronological phases, each with a duration of around 50 years. After each phase the farms, fences and small buildings were taken down and rebuilt again in the same place. The farms were continually demolished and rebuilt again on the same spot from c.200 until 600 AD.
In the middle of the cluster of farms was an unusually large hall complex consisting of two parallel buildings. The largest of the buildings was an enormous hall measuring 47 x 10 metres, the roof of which was supported by eight sets of sturdy roof-bearing posts, each with a diameter of 80 cm. From the large hall building one could walk into a smaller building associated with the hall. The two hall buildings had a total internal area of c.700 m2. The larger hall building functioned for around 100 years, from the end of the 3rd century to the beginning of the 5th century AD, when the building was demolished. After this the smaller hall building continued to function until the middle of the 6th century. However, throughout this period the building was taken down and rebuilt again several times. The function of the hall complex is unknown. However, when the main building’s exceptional size is taken into consideration, as well as the many finds of a religious nature from inside the hall and the area around it, this suggests a magnate’s residence with an associated cult building.
After the demolition of the unusually large Gudme hall at the beginning of the 5th century no new hall was rebuilt on the spot. Despite this the settlement continued to exist until the Middle Ages. New excavations at the location will give greater insight into the settlement’s development and continuity, together with the location’s political and religious relationships. Perhaps such excavations will even reveal the presence of an additional magnate’s residence at a yet to be investigated location in Gudme.References:
Castel del Monte, located in the municipality of Andria, rises on a rocky hill dominating the surrounding countryside of the Murgia region. A unique piece of medieval architecture, it was completed in 1240. The castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II.
As a leader of modern humanism, the Germanic Emperor brought scholars together in his court from throughout the Mediterranean, combining Eastern and Western traditions. The castle’s unique design, an octagonal plan with octagonal towers at each angle, represents a search for perfection. Interior features reflect Eastern influences, such as the innovative hydraulic installation used by Frederick II for bathing in accord to the typical Arabic customs.
The site is of outstanding universal value in its formal perfection and its harmonious blending of cultural elements from northern Europe, the Muslim world and classical antiquity. Castel del Monte is a unique masterpiece of medieval architecture, reflecting the humanist ideas of its founder, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.