The Sachsenhof in Greven-Pentrup is a reconstruction of a 1200-year-old early medieval Saxon courtyard with cultivation trials of cultivated plants and field wild herbs from that time.
In 1973, the Westf. Museum of Archaeology Münster began excavations in the sand mining area Münster-Gittrup. At this point there were not only traces of early medieval, but also older, prehistoric life, from the Ice Age Neanderthals, the hunters and gatherers, on the Neolithic, arable farming population (graves of funnel beaker culture) to the people of the pre-Roman Iron Age (large urn field).
In order to explain the archaeological investigations and share the gained knowledge with the visitors of the ongoing excavations, in 1983 an early medieval Saxon courtyard from the 6th - 8th century AD in the immediate vicinity of the excavation area was reconstructed. In 1987, the lease expired so the house was rebuilt in Greven-Pentrup on the high bank of the Ems. Current owner of this facility is the Greven Municipality; the operator is Heimatverein Greven 1982 e.V., especially the working group Sachsenhof. The scientific management is in hands of the Office for Bodendenkmalpflege in Münster.
In the centre of the facility, you will find the main house as a residential and stable house. This approximately 18 m long post house with its ship-shaped curved longitudinal walls, oblique outer post and its column-free interior is characteristic of the houses of the Saxons in the early Middle Ages. The wicker walls are covered with clay. The thatched roof projects far beyond the walls so that the oak posts and the mud walls do not get wet and thus last longer.
A pit house, a barn and a haystack are part of the farmstead, as even today a farmhouse requires several outbuildings. The pit dwellings, which are built one metre into the earth, were used by the Saxons as craft houses. Finds of traces of former looms as well as clay weaving weights and spinning whorls show that they were very often used for textile production.
The Germanic people's rights already placed these pit houses under their special protection. Some excavation findings show that they were often secured with locks because of their valuable contents.
Haystacks are storage sites for hay and grain with vertically movable roofs. As a result, they could be flexibly adapted to the respective harvest quantity.
Crafting facilities such as a pottery kiln and an iron-smelting furnace, reconstructed according to archaeological findings, complete the facility, because the people of this time had to provide themselves with all but a few exceptions necessary for their lives.
A focus of the work at the Sachsenhof is the annual cultivation of crops and crops in the garden and field, as well as of arable wild herbs. In the field of experimental archaeology Greven is active on various projects.
• They reconstruct pottery in open field fires or in a Franconian pottery kiln reconstructed according to excavation findings.
• Charcoal is produced in the coal mill, needed for metal extraction and processing (iron smelting, forging, bronze casting). In numerous experiments, knowledge is gained as to how iron has been extracted from bog iron ore with the help of the iron smelting furnace technology in order to produce agricultural implements, weapons and jewellery.
Bronze casting, tar production, oil production with a wedge press and turning with a lathe complete the activities at the Sachsenhof.
Crops of the Early Middle Ages
Early medieval Saxon settlements were preferably located on flood-free terraces near, rivers. The cattle probably grazed in the wet river meadows, the terraces near the farms were used for agricultural purposes.
The grounds of the farmhouse can accommodate a garden within the enclosure near the houses and in the non-secure field area. At the Sachsenhof we cultivate crops which fit to the early Middle Ages and the time before , according to results of palaeobotanic analyses of the University of Groningen (NL) . There are kitchen herbs in the garden, partly poisonous medicinal plants and dyeing plants. Cereals and vegetables, the basics of the food at that time, oil, starch and fiber plants are cultivated in the field area. We also have hedges, fruit and other trees fit for this time.
We also grow plants originating from the Mediterranean region, which became widespread in the later Middle Ages through the work of the monasteries after the Christianization of the country (Capitulare de villis by Charlemagne).
Another focal point is flax cultivation for the production of linen and the cultivation of dyeing plants for dyeing wool and linen.
The dyer's woad, which provided the blue colour for textiles for centuries before the arrival of the indigo in Europe in the 16th century, attracted particular attention.
The aim of the facility is to provide visitors with a vivid and lifelike picture of the early medieval Saxon way of life. At the annual action days visitors can experience for themselves how the people in the 6th - 8th century AD could have lived and what their crafts were.
Activities in the fields of food, clothing and domestic crafts are documented by archaeological finds for the Early Middle Ages. These are for example ploughing with an ard, grinding grain with the millstone, baking bread, flax processing, spinning with the hand spindle, weaving on a standing loom in the pit house, dyeing wool with vegetable dyes, pottery and turning wood.
Visitors can also take part in the seasonal activities such as sowing and harvesting as well as the maintenance and repair of buildings and craft workshops outside the days of the action.
Expert guides or specific activities can be booked at any time.
Take advantage of this unique facility for a trip by bike or car with the whole family! Your children and your family can spend exciting hours here.
School classes and other groups can actively experience the Sachsenhof on request. Following a theoretical and practical introduction, the participants work out how, after ploughing and threshing grain with grindstones, flour is ground and made into bread. We also show pottery, spinning with hand spindles and weaving on a replica stand loom. This action takes about 3 to 3.5 hours.
The facility is always open to the public free of charge.