Nyborg Castle has changed its appearance several times since it was built in 1200 AD. New archaeological finds show that it was painted red at one time.
Nyborg Castle is known today for its red bricks, also called “monk stones. The unpainted monk stones reveal the changes undergone at the castle over many centuries, with numerous traces of renovations and expansions. A sharp observer can see traces of long-vanished windows, doors, exterior galleries, towers for spiral staircases, etc. But it hasn’t always been like that.
Among the many results of the extensive archaeological excavations on the palace ground, traces of red-coloured whitewash have been found. It would seem that Nyborg Castle, in at least a part of its past, was painted red.
Traces of this red chalk mixture have been found on some boulders that are among the preserved remains of the castle’s curtain wall. Today, the castle’s curtain wall to the south has basically disappeared. A very small part of it has been preserved in the gable end of the royal wing, and the current, major castle project has given archaeologists from the Museums of Eastern Funen the chance to examine these remnants of the curtain wall’s foundation.
“It was somewhat of a surprise to see the foundation of the southern curtain wall, since it is not really a foundation in the normal sense. It’s more like an edge of boulders built against the castle bank. As a special and delightful greeting from the past, it turned out that there was a layer of whitewash on the stones - and it was red!” says department leader for Landscape & Archaeology, Claus Frederick Sørensen.
According to Claus Frederick Sørensen, it was previously quite common to cover bricks with a layer of mortar and then whitewash them. In the museum’s archives, there is a photo of the castle’s watch tower in a white, whitewashed version. To mortar over and whitewash brick buildings is a way to preserve the bricks and at the same time, conceal traces of renovations.
1. Manipulated photo of Nyborg Castle’s façade to the west, showing what it might have looked like in a red-whitewashed version. (Photo treatment: Mona Kjærulf Holmberg)
2. The whitewash-layer has been preserved between the big boulders, and you can still see the red colour of the whitewash (chalk mixture). (Photo: Claus Frederick Sørensen, The Museums of Eastern Funen)