In addition to lots of interesting lectures, the Saga conference also provided field trips. I chose to go on the trip to Schleswig, Germany. What’s in Schleswig, you ask? Well, Schleswig is very close to an old Danish fortification called the Danevirke, which was built back in the Viking Age to keep the Germans out of Denmark. You won’t see much of it there anymore, but we went to a museum where some of it has been excavated.
You’ll recognize this as a Scottish Highland cow. I think the good folk at the museum must have thought they looked medieval. Since there are some researchers who think that the breed does date back to the British Iron Age,* this could be reasonable, but I wonder if the cattle in Viking Age Denmark and Germany would have really looked like this. For no particular reason, I’ve always imagined something more along the lines of the Heck cattle. This too could be chronologically or geographically wrong. If any of you have a good guess, feel free to leave a comment.
So you can see that the Schleswig countryside is pretty, well, pretty. I’m very fond of this shot of the two boats on the lake.
Another bus ride away from the museum, we visited a current archaeological dig. Here you can see the site all roped off and excavated. I want to say that that pile of rocks you see inside the red and white tape is a fire-pit, but I can’t remember for sure. Again, I apologize for taking so long to write these posts.
These next few pictures are fun. These are trinkets that were dug up here. As you can see, Dark Age people liked bright colors. So if you’re inclined to think of the early Middle Ages as being entirely brown, you might revise your mental image to being just somewhat brown.
On a very different note, we also visited Schleswig Cathedral. It’s important to realize that this cathedral is much, much more recent than the time period that I study, but as long as we were in the area, it seemed good to take a look.
One thing you’ll notice about this cathedral, like the one in Århus, is that it’s red brick. I like this. Of course stone is nice too, but it’s fun to see the red brick. If you work for Baylor University and have some hand in their building projects, take note of these photos. Great things really can be built with red brick.
Like many cathedrals, this one has undergone a passel of renovations over the centuries. This makes for fun viewing, because if you look around for them, you’ll see some of the leftovers of the older days. Here we have some stone carvings that, according to our tour guide, date to the twelfth or thirteenth century. This first one is a pair of lions eating a pair of less fortunate (and not quite recognizable) animals.
And here we have a carving of the King of Kings himself. You’ll recognize symbols of the four gospels surrounding him. (The angel, the lion, the bull, and the eagle, as you know, represent Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.)
So that was our field trip. I’ve got to say, field trips are considerably more exciting in graduate school than they ever were in grade school.
Thanks for reading!
* Pukite, John. A Field Guide To Cows: How to Identify and Appreciate America’s 52 Breeds. Penguin Putnam Inc. New York, 1996. pp.22-23