Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Medieval Monastery Gardens in Iceland and Norway

Version 1 : Received: 4 April 2021 / Approved: 5 April 2021 / Online: 5 April 2021 (11:47:51 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Åsen, P.A. Medieval Monastery Gardens in Iceland and Norway. Religions 2021, 12, 317. Åsen, P.A. Medieval Monastery Gardens in Iceland and Norway. Religions 2021, 12, 317.


Gardening was an important part of the daily duties within several of the religious orders in Europe during the Middle Ages. The rule of Saint Benedict specified that the monastery should, if possible, contain a garden within itself, and before and above all things, special care should be taken of the sick, so that they may be served in very deed, as Christ himself. The cultivation of medicinal and utility plants was important to meet the material needs of the monastic institutions, but no physical garden has yet been found and excavated in either Scandinavia or Iceland. Especially the Cistercians were well known for being pioneer gardeners, but also other orders like the Benedictines and Augustinians practised gardening. The monasteries and nunneries operating in Iceland during medieval times are assumed to have belonged to either the Augustinian or the Benedictine orders. In Norway in addition other orders included the Dominicans, Fransiscans, Premonstratensians and Knights Hospitallers. Based on botanical investigations at all the Icelandic and Norwegian monastery sites, it is concluded that many of the plants found may have a medieval past as medicinal and utility plants, and with all the evidence combined, most probably were cultivated in monastery gardens.


medieval gardening; horticulture; monastery garden; herb; relict plants; medicinal plants


Biology and Life Sciences, Anatomy and Physiology

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