For the last week I’ve been living as a Danish Medieval peasant, back in the year 1406. Welcome to the world that is the Middelalder Centre. Situated overlooking the beautiful Guldborg Sund, this unique reconstructed town represents everyday Danish life from 610 years ago.
This was my first taste of the scale of European open air museums, and by golly was my mind well and truly blown. For the ‘Season’, every year, a huge diverse and dynamic army of volunteers descend upon the site and bring the place to life. With the extraordinary assistance of the staff, the Middelalder Centret becomes a real glimpse back in time, with carpenters, blacksmiths, artists, weavers, bakers, candle makers, ropemakers, needle smiths, gardeners… Furnished with boats, a cow, pigs, warhorses, canons and of course, the world’s largest trebuchet.
For the summer, families, individuals and larger groups come for a week to 4 months. As a time travelling holiday or a period of time to master crafts or undertake specific projects. My time at the centre was spent working with a Danish architect, Henrick, building a buck- ‘like the male goat’! An oaken contraption used in rope making. Obviously, we only used traditional medieval tools, including gurt lush frame saws, axes and chisels (it was like HoH Wednesday… only in Danish. With more feasting. And less doughnuts.).
The centre takes it’s volunteer force very seriously and invests a lot of time, energy and money keeping them on side. It has an incredible range of modern facilities to cater for the 40 or 50 people who live on site at any one time. They stay either in the 21st century bedrooms or book one of the 15th century houses. When the centre is closed during the winter months, workshops are organised on weaving, blacksmithing etc. to keep the team skilled up and connected.
I’m now heading further north and further back in time, off to the fabled Land of Legends at Lejre, for their annual Athra Stone Age Festival.