The experimental archaeological open-air laboratory Lauresham represents an 1:1 model of a Carolingian manor (about 800 AC) and therefore an ideal-typical reconstruction of an early medieval farmyard. Since 2012 a building ensemble of different economic, living buildings and barns as well as meadows, pastures, gardens, and fields has been developed on 4.1 hectares. The assortment of all plants in the vegetable garden followed Charles’ the Great enactment of royal estates, the famous capitulare de villis. On all pasture areas pigs, cattle, geese, hens, and sheep are settled which are supposed to give an active impression of the appearance of medieval livestock. Having this often necessary recourse of antique breeding livestock gives a chance to maintain cultured work for these mostly endangered animals. During a long term experiment the fields have been farmed with David and Darius two draft ox belonging to the species of Rhaetian grey cattle. In Lauresham a lively image will be portrayed of all that what was technologically and regionally possible and normal 1200 years ago. An active coexistence of both mainstay research and communication represents an important concern.
This laboratory within this didactic concept of World heritage Lorsch Abbey performs consequently some specific functions at once. It is providing a multifaceted insight into the living reality of early medieval humans and therefore it makes the topic daily culture even more taking central stage. Especially here the advantages of an 1:1 model are getting obvious immediately since it allows a wider ranging and more direct access to topics like house building, living comfort, hand craft as well as farming of animals or luxury than a classical settlement model would do in a vitrine. By this way of representation it might work out to clean up that dominating cliché about the ‘dark Middle Ages’ in an easy and lambent way, and to show that it is not too different from our age. Furthermore Lauresham provides access to the central topic of Lorsch Abbey, manorialism. As abstract concept of order for visitors, which is usually difficult to communicate, the organizational patterns of such a manorialism by means of this manor Lauresham can get easily explained. From the didactic point of view Lauresham shall be understood as a center of a small manorial organization. The central courtyard was not only a centre of an early medieval family of the upper class (nobilitas) and their illiberal socmen (servi non casati) but also a central point for distant grounds and their tributes. It was families like the one being simulated for Lauresham which belonged to the most important givers of the Nazarius' monastery during the 8th and 9th century and made an expansion of the lordship area possible from Netherlands North Sea Coast down to Grisons in Switzerland. Meanwhile farms donated to the abbey like the fictive Lauresham could often occupy important functions within a system of tributes and socage in such a clerical society.
Not least the didactic implementation of Lauresham also allows direct access to the topic 'church' that is not always easy to find due to its fragmentary character. The chapel still in a process of getting built will surely be of importance. As only stone building on this site architectural sculpture and inventory will be shown soon in the same context. If it is the chancel screen, the altar or the sepulcrum in this church: All these are things, which had to be showed to the visitor as a fragment out of its context in the past. Therefore Lauresham performs the important task of getting to know Lorsch Abbey easier. Even the King’s hall will be understood better by the chapel in Lauresham, since the angle of the chapel's roof pitch is equivalent to the barrel vault of the Carolingian King’s Hall.
Claus Kropp M.A.