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:
The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania was built originally in the 15th century for the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Royal Palace in the Lower Castle evolved over the years and prospered during the 16th and mid-17th centuries. For four centuries the palace was the political, administrative and cultural center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
Soon after the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was incorporated into Tsarist Russia, Tsarist officials ordered the demolition of the remaining sections of the Royal Palace. The Palace was almost completely demolished in 1801, the bricks and stones were sold, and the site was bowered. Only a small portion of the walls up to the second floor survived, that were sold to a Jewish merchant Abraham Schlossberg around 1800 who incorporated them into his residential house. After the 1831 uprising, the czarist government expelled Schlossberg and took over the building as it was building a fortress beside it. Before the Second World War it was the office of the Lithuanian Army, during the World War II it was the office of the German Army, and after World War II it was used by Soviet security structures and later transformed into the Palace of Pioneers. Fragments of Schlossberg's house have become part of the Eastern Wing of the restored Royal Palace.
A new palace has been under construction since 2002 on the site of the original building. The Royal Palace was officially opened during the celebration of the millennium of the name of Lithuania in 2009.