Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Plan of St. Gall

The Plan of St. Gall is a manuscript dating to the ninth century that contains a detailed plan for a monastery. It seems to be an ideal rather than an actual plan, and it was certainly never built. The plan was crafted by Abbot Haito of Reichenau, who dedicated it to Gozbert, Abbot of of St. Gall in modern Switzerland from 816 to 836.

This schematic shows the main features. (Click to enlarge.)

The plan has fascinated historians for centuries, and numerous renderings of the plan as both a drawing and a model have been made. Above, an 1877 model in a local museum and a 1965 drawing by Alan Sorrell.

Now a group of Germans is trying to build the plan at full scale, using only the methods of the ninth century. The project's leader, Bert Geurten, has raised enough money to get started, but since the project will take about 40 years, they will have to raise funds successfully for a long time to get this finished. They have no shortage of workers willing to work at sub-standard wages:
Despite the difficult conditions, the project has been swamped with applications. “I’ve had 85 stone masons apply already,” says Geurten. “They all dream of having the chance to work with their hands.” This also applies to the blacksmith. “They won’t be hammering kitschy horseshoes for tourists. The forge must supply the site with tools,” he adds.
Which is another indication of how fake our jobs seems to many of us, and how unfulfilling we find them.

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