brick from the mariëngaarde monastery

How often do you come across a brick with a baked-in human figure on it? Judging by its cloak, its staff and the aureole around its head, the figure must be a clergyman.

The brick is from the Norbertine monastery Mariëngaarde, which was founded in 1136. The figure may be Norbert van Xanten, the founding father of the order of Norbertines, although this is not absolutely sure.

Baksteen van klooster Mariëngaarde, Hallum, 13de eeuw

Brick from the Mariëngaarde monastery, Hallum, 13th century. Click on the image to see a larger version.

In the Middle Ages, large bricks like the one on display here were mostly made by monks, which is why they are called kloostermoppen or cloister bricks. There used to be many monasteries in Friesland, but after the Protestant faith became the official religion in the Netherlands in the 16th century, most of them were pulled down.

This cloister brick is one of the rare relics of the monasteries of that time.