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Book chapter2020

Bebyggelsen runt Varnhem vid tiden för klostrets tillkomst

Tollin, Clas


The purpose of the study is to reconstruct domains and to describe the landowner situation in the Varnhems area in the early Middle Ages, when Västergötland’s Cistercian monastery finally established in Varnhem around 1160. The study area is the late medieval parishes Norra Lundby and Skarke/Varnhem. In central Västergötland, the villages are large and sometimes extremely large, which speaks for an origin in Estates, to which often also a private church was connected. When the church hierarchical organization was established a century later, these settlements also formed parish territories. For Varnhem, Skarke, Lundby and perhaps also Ökull, there were private churches during the first half of the 12th century.
The area was nearly fully colonized around 1100. The unsettled areas consisted of commons such as Billingen and Axvallen where access was shared between surrounding landowners and the king (kungstreding). Like Nydala and Julita Cistercian monasteries, Varnhem early acquired large land areas around the monastery with no other landowners. Early donators were King Erik Eriksson’s Queen Kristina and probably also Birger jarl when Varnhem was appointed as his funeral church in the middle of the 13th century. Four larger and three smaller early medieval estates have been identified. The associated territories have been reconstructed on the basis of old cadastral maps. Even in the 1540s when the estates had been divided into family farms with tenants, the existence of other landowners than the monastery of Varnhem were minimal. The importance of the early donations is showed by the fact that over twenty percent of the monasteries late medieval farms were within a radius of four kilometers from the monastery site.

Published in

Västergötlands fornminnesförenings tidskrift
2020, number: 2019/2020, pages: 9-21 Title: Varnhem - från järnåldersgård till klosterstiftelse
ISBN: 9789197925891
Publisher: Västergötlands fornminnesförening