Earliest medieval construction sketch in Europe found in Flemish town

In Maldegem, East Flanders province, archaeologists have found a thousand-year-old construction sketch of a house on a wooden board. This may very well be the earliest medieval construction drawing ever found in Europe.

The unique discovery was made during archaeological research at a new, to-be-developed, industrial site in Maldegem. Archaeologists came across a water well there. Further investigation revealed that on one of the wooden boards of the well was a sketch of a medieval house, including connections, a second floor and perhaps foundations.

"Perhaps the draftsman wanted to explain how the dwelling was going to be built and carved it into the plank,” declared archaeologist Evelyn Schynkel of the archaeological company BAAC Flanders. “Later, the wood was recovered to build the well." The plank remained under the water’s surface all these hundreds of years and did not rot.

Research dates the sketch to around 1030, so about a thousand years ago, during the High Middle Ages. The drawing shows a wooden rural house. Stone houses had not yet been built and the big cities of Flanders were still in their infancy.

"The drawing really shows what a rural house from the High Middle Ages looked like, which is a first,” explained Schynkel. “Until now, we only had presumptions of what dwellings looked like back then. This is really a top piece.” The drawing is unique for Flanders and probably for Europe as well. "This is probably the earliest construction sketch ever made in Europe," said the archaeologists.

The wooden board will in the future be preserved and exhibited at the Provincial Heritage Centre in Ename.


#FlandersNewsService | Photo of a thousand-year-old construction sketch of a house on a wooden board © BELGA PHOTO DIETER JEHS ​
Video of a thousand-year-old construction sketch of a house on a wooden board © De Logi & Hoorne


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