The Beloved Island – A study of a Monastery on an Artificial Island

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


For the Cistercian monks who settled at Øm Abbey, Denmark in 1172, it had been a long and troublesome journey from the time they left the motherhouse seven years earlier, and until they settled at Øm.
With three failed monastic foundations behind them, they settled on a narrow strip of land between two freshwater lakes. From the surviving chronicle, we know in detail about the monastic foundation. Here the monks wrote, “They came to a place called Øm, surrounded on all sides by water and swamp, and they found there near the forest between two lakes, Gudensø and Mossø, a place overgrown with shrubs, and which seemed to them suitable. If only it had not been lacking in water for the various needs of the monastery”.
One of the first things they did, when they arrived, was to create canals across the isthmus and thus creating an artificial island. They named the monastery ‘Cara Insula’ – meaning ‘The Beloved Island’. But why was it necessary for the monastery to create an artificial island, and furthermore, why invest labour and economic resources in the construction of several canals?
This presentation discusses different theories as to why the monks found it necessary to place the monastery on an artificial island.
Original languageDanish
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventEAA 2023 Belfast: European Association of Archaeologists Annual Meeting - Queen's University, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Aug 20232 Sept 2023
Conference number: 29th


ConferenceEAA 2023 Belfast
LocationQueen's University
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

Cite this