They had names like Reginhardus, Altmannus, Gundoltus or Sigismundus: the monks who lived at Schuttern Abbey in the early 9th century. The Reichenau Fraternity Book names some 300 monks in total, but they didn’t all live here at the same time. The largest number at any one time was probably just under 160, since those names are all listed in the same handwriting. It’s still a considerable number!
In the 820s and ‘30s, Schuttern – which was still called "Offoniswilare" at the time – was one of the wealthiest and most important monasteries in the Carolingian Empire. And that was probably when the first church was built here, on the same site as the present building. It was a monastery church in the Carolingian-Ottonian style, an elongated roofed hall 34 metres or 111 feet long, with an open atrium at the western end.
Not much has survived of this early and remarkably large church. Its walls were cannibalised during later remodelling work. But if you visit the excavation and look at the lowest layers, you’ll be able to see regular holes in the ground along with a mix of loose stones. Those post holes held the wooden posts that supporting the Carolingian-Ottonian building more than a thousand years ago.
Another reason why we know Schuttern was important is that it was mentioned in a capitulary issued by Louis the Pious in 817. According to this ecclesiastical decree, Schuttern was one of 14 imperial monasteries assigned to the “highest category” in the Carolingian Empire.
All depictions: © Historischer Verein Schuttern 603 e.V. / Gemeinde Friesenheim