Medieval women could become blacksmiths

The "Alte Schmiede" - Chair for Medieval History participates in the award-winning "showcase project"

May 19, 2021, 4:00 p.m. Augsburg

Augsburg - Under the motto “Chance Monument: Remember. Receive. Think new ”we are looking for new ways of dealing with monuments in need of renovation in a cooperation project of the Augsburg University of Applied Sciences. The model project funded by the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation is already being recognized nationwide. Now it is also supported by the Chair for Medieval History at the University of Augsburg, where the history of the “Old Blacksmiths” (Am Milchberg 16) is being examined through systematic research in archives and libraries.

The "Alte Schmiede" (Milchberg 16) is located at the foot of Ortisei and Afra in downtown Augsburg. The building has an eventful history that can be traced back to the 12th century. In the last few years it has been in a “slumber”, from which it has now been awakened to new life through an innovative project idea.

The "Alte Schmiede" project is looking for new ways in which monuments can be preserved in accordance with monument protection standards, renovated under sustainable standards and converted to the benefit of the community. “The project tries to rethink monument protection through an interdisciplinary approach. That could catch on in Germany, "says PD Dr. Mathias Kluge from the Chair of Medieval History. "The Prof. Dr. Christian Bauriedl (Augsburg University of Applied Sciences) and his students immediately impressed us and led to an exciting cooperation ”.

As a kind of laboratory for interdisciplinary teaching and research, the Alte Schmiede already combines monument protection and the future. The old smithy’s heating system is not simply being refurbished. Rather, the faculty of architecture and construction at the university is looking for a new concept for heating the building with synthetic fuels and for generating electricity to accomplish this task together with the Augsburg municipal utility. For example, students carry out thermographic examinations or develop prototypes for window renovation. In addition, it is being worked out how the forge can be used as an inclusive place for seminars and discussions in the future. The stipulation for all work is that it is carried out in accordance with the listed buildings.

The traces of the building's history should not only remain visible, but should also be made to speak. "Our research makes a significant contribution to this," says Serafin Baur from the Chair of Medieval History at the University of Augsburg. “We collect all traces with which the development of the monument and its urban environment can be traced and we are supported by the Augsburg State Archives and the Augsburg City Archives. Our earliest evidence of the existence of the forge can be found in a handwritten report about a fire that broke out there in the 12th century AD ”. This and many other proofs are professionally recorded, documented and made available to other project partners and the public. Serafin Baur reports: "We share our findings, for example, with the building researchers and preservationists who have taken traces of material from the oldest parts of the building and have found traces of fire in the process". At the end of the day, the findings are to be incorporated into an innovative 3D model with which anyone interested can get to know the forge and its history.

Overall, the results show that modern research in the “old smithy” is, so to speak, an old tradition. In Augsburg, blacksmiths were involved in many technical innovations that have changed the world. In the 12th century they worked on Romanesque construction sites and created the framework for the oldest preserved stained glass north of the Alps. Blacksmiths also took care of the installation and maintenance of the earliest clocks in Augsburg. And you forged the first metal well pipes and were thus not only involved in the introduction of modern time measurement, but also in the modernization of the water supply in Augsburg. "The" Alte Schmiede "can therefore only be described as" old "to a limited extent," says Kluge. "Age always comes from looking back". When blacksmiths installed the first town hall clock in Augsburg, they were not representatives of an “old” trade, but technological pioneers. The future was still unwritten at that time. It is the same with the future of the "old forge", where new ideas are regularly created. "We are excited to see where the project will lead us," says Baur.

If you want to get an impression, you can visit the project website at: