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:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.