The Villa Wellmer Association is aiming to develop an experimental archaeology and medieval re-enactment project in Felmer.
In the 12th century, during the reign of king Geza II (1141-1162), the Hungarian government decided for a methodical occupation of central and southern Transylvania. They invited farmers from the Western Europe, promising them land, protection and low taxation. People were coming in from Flanders, Lotharingia (Moselle), Frisia, Westphalia and Franconia. People usually travelled with their wagons and livestock along the Danube River towards todays Sibiu. Here people were organized and distributed. Groups of 5-10 families proceeded then to their final destination, where they received a housing plot and farming land.
Towards the end of the 12th century farmers arrived in the Felmer valley coming from Lower Lotharingia (Flanders, Brabant, Hainault). One donation Chart of September 6th, 1206, signed by King Andrew II the Jerosolimitan (1205-1235) mentioning “villa Wellmer”, is the first and only source of information regarding Felmer village earlier to the great Mongol invasion of 1241. During the havoc, Felmer sustained catastrophic destruction, no building previous the invasion being preserved.
The goal with the Villa Wellmer project is to build a 12th century fortified manor „villa gerebionis” as centre of attention for medieval re-enactment, rural tourism and outdoor museum of Transylvanian Saxon colonists, to emphasise the uninterrupted existence for over 800 years of the Saxon village Felmer.
The Villa Wellmer Project has a good location and solid plans. They also have a similar courage as the early Western settlers who arrived in the valley of Felmer more than 800 years ago. We are looking for people to realize our dream with. We will build the first 12th century architectonic reconstruction in Romania, using methods and materials of the time.
We intend to address people from Transylvania, Romania and Europe (students, high school pupils and college students) with a focus on history, archeology and medieval reenactment. The site activities will be seasonal, shaped as a summer outdoors work camp. We try to combine these groups with experts in archaeology and medievalism from the „Valer Literat” Museum of Făgăraş and master trainers in stone carving, masonry and carpentry. The Graef’s Manor („villa gerebionis”) is about building a complex for housing and specific domestic activities, with a final built area of 4000 m2, conducted in 3 successive stages. The first stage consists in building of one gate tower and a crenellated stone wall who will pave the southern side of the site. This curtain wall, surfacing of about 700 m2, shall be built of shaped stone locally collected, bonded with mortar of sand and lime. It will have two rows of arrow loops, battlements on top and oak hoardings. The gate tower will act when ready as peel tower, the first housing place of the complex. It shall have rectangular footprint and about 15 m height, built of shaped stone and oak wood, on two storey above one main access zone towards the inner courtyard. Access is through a Romanesque arched 3.5 m high entrance, two wings gate and retractable portcullis, both oak, reinforced with cast iron. The first level of the tower, 3.5 m high, will be a technical and storage one („der Fallgatterraum”), and the second will be a living room („der Torwächterraum”) built on wooden frame, slightly bracket to the wall. A 4 m high four-sloped Germanic-style roof will be topping it.
Behind the curtain wall, into a second stage, we shall dig deep into the sandstone slope made of creating a series of rectangular rooms in troglodytic style, reinforced with a wooden belt. Thus, the natural sandstone wall acts like an inertial thermal mass, providing the manor a few degrees of natural heat in winter and cooling in summer. Here we organise the manorial house („maison-forte”), on three levels: basement, ground and first floor. The basement will be the storage area. The ground floor will include a reception and manorial court hall („salle-basse”) and a kitchen. An outer stair house connects with the first floor, consisting of a reception hall for friends and notables („salle-haute”) and private bedrooms. Both reception halls will function as Saxon civilisation museum.
In the third stage we will raise a polygonal tower at the southeastern end of the curtain wall. It will have a technical role, maintenance of the household.