Aarhus Universitets segl

The "stue" and the spread of the concept of a smokefree living room in Central Europe

Projekter: ProjektForskning

  • Afdeling for Middelalder- og Renæssancearkæologi
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Project "The concept of a smokefree heated living room"

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance various changes in housing culture reflected practical needs and ideas as part of a non-verbal communication within society. Based on archaeological evidence, written and pictorial sources as well, the project is to deal with the heating system and its positioning in the ground plan. In Central and Northern Europe the arrangement of rooms underwent a significant change in the period between the 11th and the 17th century: The parlour (Danish "stue" or "doerns", German "Stube" or "Dorntze" ), here defined as a smokeless heated living room, was the most important room in the habitat, is distinguishing mark was the tiled stove Its origin is unknown; probably, it was an innovation of older ovens, which were common as technical or simply baking equipment. In Central Europe, the oldest known types of heating ovens were already used in the early period of North Western Slavic settlement since the 7th century. According to archaeological findings, it is possible to write the history of the spread of this heating technique, starting in the Alps in the 11th century and reaching the Baltic Sea in the 13th century. Firstly, this new way of heating was a characteristic feature of upper class living, until the 16th century it became common in the towns and even in rural buildings.

On the basis of conventional archaeological and building archaeological sources as well, the project will focus not only on the technical development, but also on the process of innovation.


1) Archaeological findings of stove tiles and remains of tile stoves

2) stove tiles in museal collections

3) building archaeological evidence for the localization of stoves, kitchen, chimneys and smoke funnels

Leading questions:

Refering to time and matter:

How is time visible in the house (room disposition, distances and traffic zones)?

How is heating structuring time (requirement of preheating a tile stove, periodical use of the stue on special occasions)?

In how far existed a competition in time and space with traditional or new systems esp. regarding the use of time (iron oven vs. tile stove)?

Spread of ideas as process of movement?

Basic questions:

When reached the tile stove and the stue concept a new region?

Who was the transmitter?

How was the technique and the concept adapted to new user's need?

Which conditions caused its adoption - or its refusal?

How were the niche or flat tiles used as a medium for pictorial or textual information?


Thomas Kühtreiber and Gerd Reichholt, Tile stove and "Stube" in Austria, Institut für Realienkunde des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit, Krems, Austria

Martina Wegner, Tiles from Mecklenburg and Pomerania, Phd-project Chair for Medieval and Postmedieval Archaeology, Universität Bamberg, Germany

Marcin Majewski, Renaissance Tiles from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Habilitation, Museum Stargard, Poland

Harald Rosmanitz, The Tile Stove in South-Western Germany, Phd-project at the University of Halle, Germany, in cooperation with the Archaeological Spesartproject, Institute at the University of Würzburg, Germany

Ole Kristiansen, Danish Tile Stoves and their Religious Information, Slagelse, Denmark

David Gaimster, Director The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, The tile stove as a medium of technological and cultural exchange across the Hanseatic trading regions of northern and western Europe, Great Britain

Palle Birk Hansen, (Stove Tiles from Næstved), Director Næstved Museum, Denmark

Edgar Ring, Tile Stove and Subfloor Air Convection Heating in Lüneburg, Urban Archaeology, Lüneburg, Germany
Effektiv start/slut dato07/12/201031/12/2013



ID: 128924876