The Middelalder Center in Denmark is a museum like no other. Whilst it is crucial to visit museums displaying primary and secondary sources to better understand our history, this medieval centre gives its visitor a different perspective of how we learn and experience the past. In this fictitious Danish town, built by a voluntary organisation, one can see those primary and secondary sources come to life, as everything found at the centre is based on archival and archaeological evidence.
The town, over looking a salt water lagoon and immersed in a forest is complete with different types of facilities found in a medieval town, such as the tannery, the carpenters house and workshop, the smithy, the merchants house, dock, store houses, and all of them furnished with well researched reconstructed household items from the early 15th century. This village would be a static open air museum were it not for the dozens of reenactors who flock to volunteer, taking on different roles that give an exciting educational interpretation to the town.
As a reenactor with Compagnia San Michele Malta I volunteered to participate for five days at this centre. Living in a warm wooden house complete with historically accurate furniture, bedding and other household items is what made my experience living in 1409 truly immersive. Daily I was awoken by the resident geese and the golden sun that shines over the lagoon or with an occasional drizzle of rain that fell on the straw roofs where the birds nest. My days were not spent in idle time but were busy fulfilling my 15th century role of a visiting Jewish merchant carrying spices from the Mediterranean and explaining to visitors who I represent and what I have come to do. At 10am, the Medieval town springs into action as the museum gates open where families and tourist flood in. Every reenactor is there to explain and fulfil their roles, and so the smithy goes to work as well as the carpenter, the notary, the church builder, the female tanners, the servants to the merchants house and even the children who play and run around the streets in their 15th century outfits and occasionally gather to recite the Pater Noster.
The crowd pullers of this Medieval centre are the knightly jousting tournaments, the legendary fully functional reconstructed trebuchet which hurls rocks into the lagoon or the reconstructed 15th century cannons which when shot sends the audience into a wave of cheers.
My experience would not have been complete without the warm volunteers who welcomed me, taught me their history and shared their food and drinks as the sun slowly set in the late hours of the Danish night.
Written by Gabriel Farrugia.
For more information about Gabriel and other members click here.