Palm trees in Ename

From 1593 onwards, the monks are rebuilding the destroyed abbey.  In 1599, the archdukes Albrecht and Isabella are paying them an official visit to support their efforts.  Flanders has suffered a lot of damage due to the many years of civil war that has raged over the country since 1566, many protestant people have left for the new Dutch Republic.

On the occasion of this official visit, the abbey receives two European palm trees.  We suspect that some symbolism was linked to the choice of this present: a palm branch is symbol of victory (over Protestantism?) while a palm tree is being mentioned in  Psalm 92,13 that says ‘Ut palma florebit’ (The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree), which could refer to the rebuilding of the abbey.

palm trees

The European palm trees in the garden of the abbot

The palms flourished in the abbey and had their own room in the orangery that was a bit higher. When the abbey was abolished in 1795, the palm trees were transferred to the botanical garden in Ghent.  The Ename museum has made a small exhibition about the abbey gardens and its palm trees, for which we have made an interactive application showing the abbey gardens in 1665 and 1730.

Ename 1665

We started the reconstruction of the 1665 period. In the village, you will be able to visit the pub De Swane, the brewery, the school and a home weaver of tapestries.  In the abbey, the focus will be on the different gardens and orchards.  The reconstruction will contain not only objects from the Ename museum but also from other archaeological museums in East-Flanders.

Ename 1665 - abbey entrance

Ename 1665 – abbey entrance

Archaeology in East-Flanders – conference

This year, the yearly conference about archaeology in East-Flanders takes place in the Ename Heritage Centre on Saturday Dec 5, 2015.  During this conference, the virtual walk Ename 1290 will be demonstrated and more information on the virtual reconstruction will be provided.

Ename 1290 virtual walk

The Ename 1290 virtual walk (photo: pam Ename)

This free conference gives you a unique opportunity to see Ename 1290 in action!  Register at before Dec 2, 2015!

Open Monuments Day

During the whole day at Open Monuments Day (Sept 13, 2015) guided virtual tours through Ename in 1290 were made in the Ename Heritage Centre.  Guide Wivine Devisscher took a large number of people through an appealing journey through the Middle Ages in Ename and many children and adults tried the virtual walk themselves.


Many children and adults tried the virtual walk through medieval Ename (photo: Daniel Pletinckx)

The combination of the interactive virtual reconstruction and the stunning view on the archaeological site from the second floor of the Ename Heritage Centre provided a unique experience for the visitors.  In the late afternoon, rain started to pour down, proving that at that moment the virtual walk was quiet more comfortable than the real thing…

If you want to experience the virtual walk-through yourself, reserve your slot here.

Ename 1290 – discovering the past through natural interaction

Ename 1290 is a real time 3D application that shows Ename and the Ename abbey in 1290 and can be used as a virtual tour by the guides and as an educational game by school children.  The navigation through the virtual world and the manipulation of the virtual objects takes place through hand gestures, detected by a Kinect camera.  Have a look at this video to see Ename 1290 in action!  The press conference took place on August 21, and the application will be operational from September onwards on the first floor of the Ename Heritage Centre.

natural interaction

Exploring and experiencing Ename in 1290 through natural interaction (photo: Visual Dimension bvba)

Ename on Europeana

To make our 3D reconstructions of the Ename abbey available for a general audience, we have provided our 3D models to Europeana, the European Digital Library for Culture, where the 3D reconstructions can be visualised in a interactive way and unique photographs of the restoration phase can be found. Also some reconstructed 3D objects from the 1015 and 1290 phases are available.


Early Frisian cog on Europeana through SketchFab (3D model by Visual Dimension bvba)

We provided these 3D and photo resources in the context of the 3D-ICONS project, in which we were also responsible for the 3D publication process, mainly using the current WebGL and HTML5 opportunities for all platforms and browsers.  The 3D-ICONS project has been described in this international publication that was illustrated with 3D  reconstructions from Ename.

Virtual reconstruction of Ename

This blog shows the process of the virtual reconstruction of the abbey of Ename, based upon many years of excavations, historical research and study of historical landscapes.  It shows the sources, the  assessment of the sources and the conclusions made.  For example, the reconstruction below of the early Ename abbey (around 1065) is based upon excavation results, one drawing of the abbey in le Veil Rentier (see page 20 in the online document), historical documents about the founding of the abbey and iconography about building cranes and medieval chariots (see pages 21, 175, 201 and 273 in the digital Veil Rentier).


Virtual reconstruction of the early Ename abbey in 1065 (image: Visual Dimension bvba)


Excavation plan of the early Ename abbey (in red) by Koen Degroote (AOE)


The founding document of the Ename abbey


An 11th century building crane, iconography and virtual reconstruction

viel rentier

A horse and chariot in the Veil Rentier (around 1275)


Transporting the stones by horse and chariot during the construction of the Ename abbey

The reconstruction we have made not only reconstructs the abbey but also the Saint Laurentius church and the surrounding village. The total reconstructed areas is 2 by 2 km wide and contains the landscape reconstruction based upon the research of Guido Tack, curator of Bos t’Ename and his team.


Saint Laurentius church of Ename in 1065