The trebuchet at the Middle Ages Center
|Type||Open air museum|
|Location||Nykøbing Falster, Denmark|
Middelaldercentret, Ved Hamborgskoven 2, Sundby L. 4800 Nykøbing F.Denmark.
The Middelaldercentret (English: Middle Ages Centre) is an experimental living history museum in Denmark, which depicts the middle ages in the Denmark of the late 14th and early 15th centuries. It is located in Sundby Lolland, some 4 km northwest of the centre of Nykøbing Falster.
It features a village, boats, market, and siege weapons of the period, such as a trebuchet and a ballista. All of the items are built on site using period tools. Activities include live firing of the weapons, archery, knightly tournaments, and demonstrations of crafts and tasks from the late 14th century and early 15th centuries.
The Middle Ages Centre started with the reconstruction of a medieval siege weapon, called a trebuchet, built to mark the 700th anniversary of Nykøbing Falster in 1989. The local museum reconstructed the trebuchet and the experiment ran for three weeks in which 15000-30000 people visited the site. Given the considerable interest in the trebuchet, a scoping project, "Medieval Technology Centre", was conducted for two months in the summer of 1991. The project consisted of a series of workshops and a kitchen tent set up around the trebuchet. As a private institution, The Middle Ages Centre was founded in 1992. Two years later, in 1994, a donation from Arbejdsmarkedets Feriefond (a non-profit foundation) made it possible to build an entire settlement with houses, tournament lists, a harbour, and a new entrance building. Since then, more houses have been, and one major new project is carried out each year.
Living history is central to The Middle Ages Centre and the focus is a Danish market town in the period around the year 1400. The centre follows the current calendar, but offset by 610 years - 2013 the year 1403 is depicted.
The Centre's work is based on very thorough research. The purpose of the work is partly dissemination, but also academic research, especially in the form of so-called experimental archaeology where ancient tools and technology is reconstructed on the basis of extant sources and objects in exhibitions around the world, and then tested in practice.
Staff and volunteers dress in period costume, and live in the opening hours just as they would have 610 years ago. Both volunteers and employees are thoroughly trained so as to make sure that they are professionally equipped to assume the role of medieval people. Neither glasses nor piercings are allowed and the inhabitants don't know about mobile phones, TV or other modern things, as these are not a part of the concept. Volunteers are co-ordinated by the Falster Guild (guldborgsund gildet).
The museum has a restaurant called The Golden Swann, which is furnished as a dining hall at a major Danish castle around 1400. It serves authentic medieval food by candlelight. The restaurant is independent but meets the same requirements regarding authenticity as the rest of the centre.
Research and reconstructions
The centre was the first in the world to reconstruct an actual working trebuchet in 1989. Since then the centre has been hired to help build the trebuchet at Warwick Castle, Warwickshire, England which is the largest functioning trebuchet in the world.
The centre participated in the third Galathea expedition (2006-2007) and researched both sulfur and salpeter in black powder production in Puducherry, India and transportation to Europe. Furthermore, research regarding textiles, winter habitation, and the manufacture of medieval war machinery has been carried out. A conference about black powder manufacturing was held at Middelaldercentret in 2010.
Medieval reenactment groups from around the world visit the centre during the season. Since 2010, there has been held a week-long festival during the summer holidays, where international reenactment groups have been invited. During these specific festivals, the time period and region of interest being portrayed been extended to embrace broader medieval life. The international group Company of Saynt George, dealing with the years 1460-1490, has been a guest several times at these events. The centre also runs courses on historical use of medieval weaponry, which are often attended by members of historical European martial arts groups, such as the Laurentius Guild.
Given its unique medieval features, the town it has been used as a set for both national and international film productions. Thus both National Geographic Channel has recorded a documentary about early inventions such as diving equipment and throwing machines and the Danish movie Vølvens Forbandelse and the German film 12 Paces Without a Head has scenes shot at the Centre.
- "Lidt historie" (in Danish). www.Middelaldercentret.dk. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- Schmidt, Anders Legarth (2006-1-26). "Jagt på krudt til perfekte våben". Politiken (in Danish). Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "Reconstructing Medieval Artillery". http://archive.archaeology.org. June 14, 2005. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "Becoming volunteer at the Medieval Centre". Middelaldercentret.dk. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "Frivillig på feltet" (in Danish). Guldborgsundgildet.dk. Retrieved 2013-03-07.
- "En særlig formidlingsform: Vi er i Det Herrens År ..." (in Danish). Middelaldercentret.dk. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "Are you in need of a refreshment". Middelaldercentret.dk. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "The Warwick Trebuchet". warwicksiege.com. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "About the centre". Middelaldercentret.dk. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "Research and projects". Middelaldercentret.dk. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "Trebuchet to Cannon: Military Technology 1000-1600". Middelaldercentret.dk. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- Drejer, Katja (2011-04-19). "Middelaldercenteret får en travl sæson". Folketidende (in Danish). Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "Kirkebyggepladsen" (in Danish). Middelaldercentret.dk. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "International Ridderfestival" (in Danish). www.middelaldercentret.dk. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
- "Introducing the Nykøbing Event". companie-of-st-george.ch. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "- Det er kun dejligt" (in Danish). Folketidende. 10/8-2010. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- "Filmselskaber er vilde med middelalderen" (in Danish). Folketidende. 2008-09-26. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
- Medieval Centre - official site in English