The Manor farm buildings

An imposing estate

The longhouse

The longhouse follows the Trelleborg-Fyrkat model, and is built of 160 solid oak trunks with a roof made of 5000 hand-made roofing shingles. The timber used is known in Danish as flåde-ege (fleet-oak), because it was planted in the early 1800s for the reconstruction of the Danish fleet, which had been annihilated at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801.

As so often in ancient buildings, the 'good' side of the longhouse faced west, and the stable was away to the east. The stable at Gl. Hviding was remarkably small, but towards the end of the Viking Age it gradually became common to have a stable in a separate building from the main house.

In the longhouse, you will meet Vikings busy cooking, weaving on warp weighted looms, washing clothes and performing all sorts of other tasks that are necessary to keep a farm this size working. Try sitting down on a mattress filled with hay, or at the high table, and imagine what the atmosphere would have been like for those from the higher social classes.

The farm stables

The farmer at Gammel Hviding is a rich, influential man. He has so many cows that he has built extra stables - and in the evening, his wife and he can lie down to sleep between eiderdowns made of the very softest down. Of course, friends and standing only come with generosity, and his feasts are renowned for their excellence. Many are invited, and food and drink flow in abundance!

Throughout Danish history, stables and living quarters have been under the same roof, often with the stable facing east. But towards the end of the Viking Age, stables began to be built which were not attached to the main house. The fact that only one small stable was found, at the eastern end of the Gammel Hviding longhouse, strongly indicates that there must have been another stable somewhere nearby. For example, it might have been this building, which was made of wattle and daub.

The farm smithy

Twilight is deepening, and most people are now sitting together around the gentle warmth of the fire - but the dull clang of hammering still resounds from the smith's hut. The doorway glows red before you, and no-one notices when you step over the threshold. In a flurry of sparks, the smith is hammering a piece of glowing iron, silent, in deep concentration. He is busy, because it's the middle of the harvest season, and a scythe has got broken. On the shelf alongside the solid plank wall lie flints, tongs, hammers, a broken knife blade, bent nails and harness-plates. Understanding the secrets of fire and iron is a lot of work - but it also brings great power and standing in the community.

At the large farm in Gammel Hviding, the smithy - as was usual at that time - was situated away from the prevailing wind direction, and slightly out of the way when compared to the rest of the estate's buildings, but still within the hedge. The building measured a good 3.5 x 4.5 m, and was built with horizontal planks, most likely from oak.

In the middle of the dirt floor stands a raised forge. Bellows provide extra air to the fire, to bring the temperature up to about 1000°, the temperature required for working with iron. No one knows whether the Viking smith at Gammel Hviding also had a raised forge, or whether he would just have squatted down to work.

The plank house ('Bulhus')

'Sodtud!!!' rang out a hysterical cry from the little hut where people went to relieve themselves, 'there's no moss left! Hurry now!' The mistress always had to push him around, thought Sodtud. Why couldn't she just scrape herself with a shard of pottery, like everyone else? He left the warm wooden hut, where he and all the other slaves slept, and trudged off towards the orchard. This was where he usually found the soft, green moss, which grand people used to wipe themselves with. On the way, he also picked a couple of nettle leaves and tore them up into quite small pieces...

The estate at Gl. Hviding owned about 980 smaller and larger service buildings, including this 50 m² workshop built with horizontal planks of oak (known in Danish as a bulhus). Depending on the time of year and what was needed, it would have had many functions in connection with the daily tasks about the large, self-sufficient farm: carpentry and joinery, butchery, tanning skin, bundling straw, wickerwork, pottery and so on. Perhaps the building was also the sleeping quarters for some of the farm workers during some periods, for instance season workers or slaves.