Egmond Abbey

If you follow this blog, then you perhaps also are familiar with my first blog post about how I developed my medieval alter ego Ava van Allecmere. In short, I was born in that area and the abbey of Egmond church books were the source of my SCA persona.

The abbey in Egmond still is one of my favourite museums and it is high time I devote a blogpost to it!

In the first half of the 8th century Saint Adelbert arrives in the area which we now know as North Holland. He was a companion of Saint Willibrord. Legends say that Adelbert was the son of king Egilbert of Sussex, who had renounced all his rights to the throne and became a missionary. After his death, Adelbert is buried in a wooden chapel in Egmond.

In the first half of the 10th century, Dirk 1 the count of Holland built a convent in Egmond, thus creating the oldest convent in The Netherlands. The nuns’ sole purpose was to pray for the health of the count’s family. Saint Adelbert’s bones were transferred to the convent in 922, at the request of a nun named Wilfsit. It is believed a well with healing water started to appear very soon after. It is a shame there is no more information on Wilfsit.

The nunnery became famous because of the well and attracted many pilgrims. Of course, in 950 the nuns were *moved* and replaced by monks. Now, why doesn’t that surprise me? Mansplaining medieval style….

Well of Saint Adelbert, Source: Meertens Instituut

Most of what we know about Adelbert comes from the monk Ruopert of Mettlach. At the end of the 10th century, Egbert, bishop of Trier and son of Count Dirk II of Holland, sent Ruopert to Egmond to record the local stories about Adelbert. Ruopert processed these traditions into a “Vita Sancti Adalberti” ( biography).

Around the year 975 a fire destroyed the box that contained the bones of St. Adelbert. A piece of parchment, dated from around that same time, was found in Egmond in 1983. It is believed to have been created after the fire for the new box with what was left of St. Adelbert’s remains. It reads: ‘Hic requiescunt membra sancti Adhelberti confessoris Christi‘ (These are the bones of Saint Adalbert, follower of Christ).

Source: Meertens Instituut

The old & first convent no longer exists. It was demolished in 1573, during the Spanish Siege. The only thing that remains is the outline, look how lovely.

Abdij Egmond Binnen, source Peter van Aalst fotografie

One of the most spectacular pieces in the museum, is the 12th century tympan of St. Adelbert. This was on the west wall of the abbey, when it was renovated in the mid 12th century.

The rest of the abbey museum’s collection consists of models of the abbey from the 10th century till its destruction in 1573, historical books and some lovely examples of excavated pottery. Other art, photos and movies bring the remarkable history of the abbey to life.

Bag for sale

This bag is going to be a new item in my shop, but I thought it would be a good idea to dedicate a post to it.

The bag is made of light blue wool, with grey linen lining. There is an extra pocket for your phone.

The embroidery is done in dark blue wool and white, green and red silk. The image can be found in the Moesgaard Museum (Denmark), because this image is a carving on a rune stone on display there.

The Mask Stone is dated to c. 970–1020. It was found in 1850 in the foundation of a water mill that had burned down where it had been used as a cornerstone. The stone is of granite and measures approx. 160 cm in height by 47–70 cm in depth. The carving of a 110 cm-tall mask in mammen style. There is an inscription, which is placed on two of the sides and above the mask. It reads: Gunnulfr and Eygautr/Auðgautr and Áslakr and Hrólfr raised this stone in memory of Fúl, their partner, who died when kings fought.

The bag is 17 by 27cm and costs €40.

Oldest dress in The Netherlands

There has been a bit of radio silence. Our summer was long & lazy, we didn’t go anywhere special but the hammock in the garden was excellent nonetheless.

We did actually go to a week long Viking reenactment event in Archeon, in Alphen aan den Rijn and we had a lovely time! Somewhere late June a friend sent me an email which contained the follow up of the research done on a piece of textile found in the South of the Netherlands, near Uden.

I was amazed!! I am also glad I finally have some time to write about this, so that you can join the excitement, so to speak.

So, what’s the story here? In 2010 (yep, a while ago) some textile fragments were found in the grave of a woman from the Iron Age, near Uden. The small pieces were found on bronze and iron jewellery, bracelets and anklets which were also excavated from the same grave.

Based on these fragments, researchers from the Leiden Museum of Antiquities and the Governmental Department for Cultural Heritage concluded it must have been a long dress with long sleeves. The research team was also able to establish the weaving pattern of the dress. The analyses showed that it was a red and blue plaid dated 2800 years ago!! Wow!

For those readers that have knowledge of Dutch, have a look at this TV news item here (source

You don’t have to guess what my next project is going to be, after I finish my Skjoldehamn garb later this year… 😉 Keep an eye on this blog!

Much awesomeness

It has been a long time since I was in my beloved 11th century farm, the Rotta house. The plague has also hit this new open air museum quite hard. Last weekend we were finally able to spend a weekend again and I am happy to share some of the pictures with you.

Her bark is worse than her bite.

There were guests and gifts…

Waking up to this isn’t so bad for a Sunday

11th century fashion

13th century farm

As you know, my country is small. But, we are so rich in history. Today, I am going to share another story on a very very old building, a 13th century farm. As it happens, it is the oldest still working farm in Western Europe and I am so proud it is in The Netherlands.

The farm is called the Poor Man’s farm. You see, until the year 1648, the entire harvest would go to the poor in the area.

The building is located 4 kilometres north of Eindhoven. The oldest part of the farm, the back and actual stables, was built in 1263.

Picture by R. van Nooijen

The wooden cross beams in the timber frame were investigated and dendrochronology showed us they date from in or around the year 1263.

Now, because this farm was used to feed the poor, we also know a bit more about the owners.

In the year 1471, the farm was most likely owned by gentleman called Amelrijck/Americk/Amelric Booth or Boodt (pronounce as ‘boat’). He was vassal of the duke of Brabant, he was also the duke’s mint master in Brussels and owned this castle called De Horst.

Not bad, eh?

Amelric was first married to lady Campenhout (her first name escapes us) and his second wife was Elisabeth van Schoonhoven. He had two daughters, Barbara and Elisabeth.

Merovingians, again…

Please join me today for this great story. It is an old story, but worth repeating. I have had an interest in the earlier garb styles for as long as I have been an SCA member, and even before that. This particular topic, the Merovingians, their clothing and adornments are very fascinating to me.

Back in 2014 several excavations were done in the town of Uden, not that far from the borders of Trivium.

Uden, in the south of The Netherlands

Hundreds of traces and items from the early Middle Ages were found in Uden. Among other things, an iron sword and a ‘Pouch Cup‘ from the Merovingian age (525-725) were excavated.

The excavated items are proof that around 550CE the first farmers started inhabiting the south of The Netherlands. The swords, horse harness, gold coins and jewellery show us that the people were not poor.

Some 29 graves in total were discovered from the Merovingian time, between 550 and 680CE. In addition, this very unique glass was found, the so called Pouch Cup, of fine quality, of which there are only 9 in Europe.

Pouch Cup

Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I would like to tell you something about that, and at the same time I would like to showcase the art of a fellow Scadian, the lady Else van Stretford, whose persona documentation I wrote not too long ago. Read that article here.

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May.

The origins of Mother’s Day can be traced back to the era of the ancient Greek and Romans; during this period the Greeks and Romans held festivals for the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

The latest and more moderate version of Mother’s Day, however, can be dated back to the Christian festival, ‘Mothering Sunday’ that was first held in the UK. During the 16th century, people returned to their local Mother churches for a service held on Laetare Sunday. In this context, one’s Mother church was either the church where one was baptized, the local parish church, or the nearest cathedral (the latter being the mother church of all the parish churches in a diocese). Anyone who did this was commonly said to have gone ‘mothering’, a term recorded by 1644:

Every Midlent Sunday is a great day at Worcester, when all the children and godchildren meet at the head and cheife of the family and have a feast. They call it the Mothering-day.

In later times, Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members.

In churches, you may sometimes see carvings on the altars of a pelican feeding little pelicans. The symbolism of the mother pelican feeding her little baby pelicans is rooted in an ancient legend which preceded Christianity. The legend was that in time of famine, the mother pelican wounded herself, striking her breast with the beak to feed her young with her blood to prevent starvation.

It is for this reason, that Lady Else has added the Pelican feeding her young on this beautiful card for Mother’s Day.

Oldest bridge

Today, I would like to tell you about the oldest bridge in the Low Lands. It is an incredible structure!

I am going to take you to Maastricht, all the way to the South of The Netherlands, very close to the Belgian border. It also happens to be my favourite city because the town is bursting with medieval atmosphere!

The oldest bridge of my country is also situated here and it was built in the 13th century, between the years 1280 and 1298. Because the land where the bridge was built on (yes, both sides of the Meuse river) belonged to the Saint Servatius church chapter, the bridge was not only called Saint Servatius bridge, the monks were also allowed to collect tolls.

Part of the tolls were supposed to be used for the upkeep of the bridge but sadly the monks only practised ‘damage control’ and would only replace the odd brick here and there. As a result, in 1349 the city of Maastricht took control of the bridge and the much needed repairs.

Source: Wikipedia

Now, I would not be showing you a bridge, as beautiful as this one is, if there wasn’t something incredibly interesting about it. Not to sound degrading, but this is a lot of bricks, yes? And this one you see here is the reconstructed one from 1948, after it was destroyed in September 1944.

Enter the Charter of Conrad III, king of the Holy Roman Empire from 1138 till 1152. I mentioned just now that the Saint Servatius Church Charter was allowed to collect tolls on the bridge. This deed, from the year 1139 is exactly that: the King’s donation of the bridge over the river Meuse (later called Sint-Servatius bridge) to the chapter of Saint Servatius in Maastricht. The charter was kept for centuries in the archive of the chapter of Saint Servatius.

What is says:

Eapropter eorum videlicet qui beato Servatio militant necessitatibus iuxta apostolum communicantes, pro amore dei et beati Servatii … necnon et Arnoldi cancellarii nostri eiusdem ęcclesię prepositi precum instantia permoti, pontem, qui supra Mosam situs est in ipso Traiecto, quem nostri iuris indubitanter esse constat, beato Servatio donamus et concedimus cum omni usu et utilitate, quę omnibus temporibus inde proveniet, libere possidendum hac conditione servata, ut de ipso fructu, qui inde percipietur, pons idem, quocienscumque necesse fuerit, reficiatur, reliquum, quod super erit, in duas partes dividatur, alia cedat in usum prepositi et successorum illius, alia vero ad refectorium fratrum et cotidiani victus augmentum. Cura vero et custodia eiusdem pontis sub tali cautela fiat, ne vel prepositus fratribus vel fratres preposito in causa premineant, sed sicut eos pares fecimus in donatione, sic etiam parificentur in ipsius possessionis ordinatione. Quod si prepositus vel aliquis successorum eius partem suam beneficiare vel invadiare temerario ausu presumpserit, tam ipse quam successores sui eadem portione ulterius careant, et in usus fratrum eadem pars cum altera iure perpetuo possidenda redigatur. … Actum publice in ęcclesia beati Servatii … multis clericis et laicis presentibus … quorum nomina subscripta sunt: Winandus ęcclesię sancti Servatii dekanus, Reinerus scholasticus, Andreas cantor, Willo camerarius, Everardus cellerarius …; ex familia ęcclesię Godefridus de Machlinis, Franco frater eius, Christianus, Engrammus, Godefridus frater eius, Heinricus de Lata Strata, Bertoldus villicus, Reinerus, Adolfus.

(R. Hackeng “Het middeleeuwse grondbezit van het Sint-Servaaskapittel te Maastricht in de regio Maas-Rijn”)

Translation (not perfect!!):

For that reason, according to the Apostle to the needs of their sharing in the One who is the blessed Servatio serve in the army, for the love of God and of the blessed Servatius… as well as of the provost of the church of the same, and the fervency of our greatly alarmed by Arnold the chancellor, over the bridge, which is above the Meuse that had been laid there, in the very he had transported, without doubt, which is admitted to be our own masters we grant and concede them the benefit of the use of Servatio, he and all of the blessed, which is accessible at all times from there turn out, is free to possess it: and the condition that in practice, is that from Him the fruit, He then addressed the same runway, as often as necessary, to recover the rest, so that above will be divided into two parts, one turns to the use of the reeve and his successors, and others in the refectory of daily living and growth. Under the care of such a caution, however, and the hold of that bridge done so as not to the reeve, or brethren, to the brethren in the cause of premineant or the reeve, in the gift; but, as we have done, that they were equal, so, too, were equivalent to the possession in the ordination. But if you, the reeve or any of his successors, pledge, or a part of it too bold and his beneficiare presume to do so, both he and his successors should further be deprived of a portion of the same, so when the second part of the right to possess for ever the same, and in the support of a brother to be drawn up. Publicly in St. Servatius … … … presents many clerical and lay, whose names are underwritten, Winandus Church St. Servatius Dekans Reinerus student Andrew Canter, Willem Chamberlain, Everard cellerarius …; , of the family of the Church, Godfrey of Machline, the French king was his brother, a Christian, Engrammus, Godfrey, his brother, Henry of The wide street, it Bertold him a steward, Reiner, Adolf.

Disclaimer: I am aware that my Latin and the resulting translation is not perfect! BUT this translation is NOT for grading or an exam, it is for your entertainment only so that you have an idea of the contents of the deed. Thank you for not shooting the messenger.

Where counts live

Hello all, it has been a while. I have been using my time over the past few weeks to write some new articles and I know full well I have neglected you all a bit.

I am going to tell you about a building I know very well, inside and out, in my hometown of Leiden: the Gravensteen.

Graven means Counts, and Steen was used to indicate a place where law was practised . I know this building so well because it used to be home to the International office of Leiden university and yes, I used to work there. When my persona Ava is parked somewhere safe, my regular mundane person has to work for a living, right? 🙂 And so, this old building was my office, back in 2006.

Gravensteen, Leiden, photo Wikipedia

The Gravensteen was built at the beginning of the 12th century. First, it was used as a safe house for the Counts of Holland, who used a local manor as one of their residences frequently. Later it became the local prison. The square tower dates (in all probability) from the 13th century, making it the oldest surviving part of the building.

It is by far the most beautiful building I ever worked in.

In 1556, the prison cells you see in the gallery were added to the building. Punishments were a public event, as you might know. The culprit would be tied to the pole you see below and would receive a flogging as a sentence. After this, no doubt many a rotten egg followed by the enthusiastic crowd…