Experiementing with old building techniques © Campus Galli

The Carolingian Monastery at Campus Galli

The goal of the project at Campus Galli is to copy the success at Guédelon, except this time it is not the reconstruction of a 13th-century castle, but of a 9th century Carolingian Monastery

Drawing of the reconstructed monastery at Campus Galli based on the "Plan of St. Gall" © Campus Galli
Drawing of the reconstructed monastery at Campus Galli based on the “Plan of St. Gall” © Campus Galli

One of the more famous relics of the Carolingian age is the Plan of St. Gall which in detail outlines the layout of a Carolingian Monastery. Likely, the plan was more an ideal design than a realistic proposal.

Nevertheless, in 2012, a group of dedicated people hatched the idea to build a monastery by hand using only Carolingian tools and materials. The site chosen for the project was located in a forest close to the small town of Meßkirch in Baden­Württemberg, roughly 30 km north of the Lake of Constance. It is obvious the intention was to copy the immense success of the project at Guedélon.

Despite a somewhat tumultuous beginning, the project at Campus Galli is now slowly lifting off. Currently, a group of 25 full-time carpenters and skilled craftsmen are engaged at the site together with numerous volunteers. Also, the early critique of the experience of visitors has been superseded by increasingly good reviews.

One reason is probably that the project is currently moving ahead at a slower pace, concentrating of building the settlement, inviting visiors to a more authentic experience (for instance at the local “inn”, and – not least – carefully trying out the old building techniques. This summer, for instance, people have been negaed in walling in the future graveyard. Why, it has been asked. To get familiear with the technique is the answer.

The wooden church under construction © Campus Galli
The wooden church under construction © Campus Galli

The construction is called “Campus Galli” (Field of St. Gall) and is intended to demonstrate to visitors the practicalities of early medieval life and the use of technology as well as to test archaeological hypotheses by an experimental approach.

Currently, the work is focusing on building the “village” which can supply the workforce with shelter and sustenance while erecting a wooden church. This small prayer-house is intended to be used as a temporary facility for the crew of workmen as well as the people involved in the project, while the basilica to be built in stone is in the crucible. It is evident that some of the people participating in the project consider it a religious venture. The compound covers 64 acres of which the monastery will only cover a third. The rest is allocated to fields and forests, which will be tilled and worked authentically.

A scientific committee consisting of renowned Carolingian scholars and medievalists as well as members of the “Landesamt für Denkmalpflege” supervises the building and construction work, which – after initial EU- and regional funding is financed by the entrance fees, which visitors pay to see the work at hand.

VISIT:

Campus Galli
Hackenberg 92,
88605 Meßkirch
Germany

Campus Galli is open from second of April to the second of November.

Taking Part:

As is the case at Guédelon, it is possible to give a hand with the project. Interested can read here how to get signed up as a voluntary. While While French is a precondition for working at Guédelon, German is a must for participants t Campus Galli.

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