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Archive for July, 2012

My local history research continues apace, but it was blown out of the water last [week] when I (FINALLY) discovered the interactive aerial satellite map that marks and describes all the archaeological sites in Bavaria. It’s called the BayernViewer-Denkmal.

It doesn’t contain very much specific information, though, and as I was reminded [the day I started writing this post], it lists everything (I think) that has ever been logged — not which sites are visible today. This is obvious when it comes to graves or settlements paved and built over with street grids and new houses. But not so obvious when it’s something in the middle of the woods or a field — and since the Google Satellite images seem to be significantly out of date, I often can’t tell whether something will be there or not when I show up. Theoretically, that is okay; it’s exciting just to be in a place where I know something was once upon a time. But in practice, when you’ve walked a couple miles out into a field and you find nothing, and aren’t sure if you are in the wrong place or just aren’t seeing something or whether there’s nothing left to see, and then have to turn around and walk back — it’s a bit deflating. That’s what happened to me [the day I started writing this post] — and then I got lost in the woods because of my dumb map — so to cheer myself up I’m going to post about some of my recent successful finds!

So, let’s see. Sometime in the spring I visited another three Keltenschanzen (Celtic ring forts), a different part of the Roman road, and my first ever BARROW MOUNDS or grave mounds with Peter-language-exchange-friend, but in a terrible stroke of unluck (as the Germans would say) I had forgotten to bring my camera that day. So I don’t have pictures of those first mounds — I might go back by myself in the two weeks before I leave, just because those schanzes and the road were more impressive than others that I’ve seen, and I’d like pictures of them. But in the meantime, I finally did my homework and found out (pre-BayernViewer) that I had some in my own backyard: in the woods near Allach, the village just to the north of my own.

Actually, as I mentioned on Facebook, I read through my books and found maps and located where I thought the grave mounds would be, and then as I was leaving the house, I took along the map of Munich that I bought on my first day in Germany. And it was marked: “Grabhügel.” So much for my research skills! And I still got lost, as you’ll see.

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I’ve started doing more research into local history and landscapes — the regions within roughly a 3-mile radius of where I live. I’ve concentrated on the districts or villages that I know the best — Unter- and Obermenzing, Allach, Pasing. My German is decent enough now that I can read up on stuff in the local library without having to rely on Google Translate for every little thing, and I take pictures of a lot of text so I can bring it home and spend more time on it. Hopefully I’ll have interesting stuff to show you soon! But not yet…

For now I’ll tell you about my trip to the “Birg,” a hill/former fortification just east of the town of Hohenschäftlarn. The German words “Berg” (hill) and “Burg” (fort/castle) were originally the same (a fortified area being usually built on a hill), and “Birg” is a later corruption of one or the other or both. Whatever fortification use to be built on the Birg has long since disappeared, but the remains of a large, very impressive system of earthwork trenches are still there, dating from the 9th or 10th century at the latest.

So two weekends ago I rode the S-Bahn to a little town about 20 km/12 miles up the Isar River from central Munich. (That is, south!) It’s associated with Kloster Schäftlarn, one of the historic abbeys between Munich and the Alps. The abbey is a Benedictine foundation from the Carolingian era, and the town Hohenschäftlarn was first mentioned in 778.

Here is someone else’s picture of the monastery perched above the Isar:

This picture is from the north, and I’m not sure if you can see the Birg hill. But you get the general idea. (more…)

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I am skipping all kinds of stuff just to show you what I did this past weekend! I saw my first actual CASTLE RUINS.

This is Castle Ehrenberg (in Reutte, Austria), which lies on the Via Claudia Augusta, the Roman road that stretched from Venice to Augsburg. It’s part of a complex of fortifications — this castle, from the 13th century with multiple additions to the 17th century; an 18th century fort on the hill just above it; a 13th-14th century “klause” or hermitage guarding the road (the Via Claudia Augusta) through the valley; and a smaller 16th century fort on the opposite hill across the valley. This gorge along the River Lech was a strategic point from the Romans on up, and the Romans actually had a fort down in the valley, in Breitenwang, just next to the town of Reutte.

If that’s a little confusing, no worries… just look at the pretty pictures. (more…)

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And now for something a bit different. Not completely different; it’s still a church. But it’s a late 19th century Lutheran church, the only one still preserved in central Munich.

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The end at last! This is, like, three months after it happened, but by george, I’ve done it.

I forget when we started that day — I think we did try to leave the house a bit earlier, but then I forgot my camera, which almost defeats the purpose of being in London (to my disordered mind, anyway), so we had to go back and then ride the tube quite a ways until we got to a certain apartment building in north London:

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