Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


27.5.13
  I'll Be Away

Until midst of June, hunting some more castles and churches. But I won't leave you without some photos to tide you over.

Entrance to the harbour of Newcastle (seen from Tynemouth) - my usual way to the UK

I got several castles on my list, as I mentioned a few weeks ago. I'm looking forward to Bamburgh and Alnwick especially, and Dunottar - that one looks like the sort of Let's See If We Can Put a Castle Here The Wind Won't Blow Away.

Edinburgh Castle

There should be some churches, too (Whitby fe., if I can sneak it into my schedule). I also really hope the weather and the tides will allow me to visit Lindisfarne. The same goes for some of the places on the Orkney (like Birsay).

Inchcolm Abbey

Let's also hope I packed the right stuff. I do pack for every weather but if the same ol' rain stays put for two weeks, I may run out of dry stuff nevertheless. Well, right now the same ol' rain is pretty busy in Germany and that's where it can stay as long as I'm not there. Lol.
 


21.5.13
  The Imperial Palatine Seat Tilleda - Fortifications

I have mentioned Tilleda a few times already since it's one of the rare examples of a Medieaval palatine seat of which more remains than some crumbled earthen walls and a sign. Werla, albeit double the size of Tilleda shows only a few of those today, Grona has become a suburb of Göttingen, in Pöhlde only some foundations remain. Of course, most of what we can see in Tilleda today has been reconstructed - earthen walls and wattle and daub houses don't preserve well - but it is the only complete complex of the sort. In Goslar, only the great hall has been restored, albeit it is a most splendid example.

Tilleda, gate of the outer bailey. The way it is drawn in between the walls enabled the defenders to throw all sorts of pointy, hot, or otherwise interesting things on attackers.

Tilleda is first mentioned as Imperial Palatine seat (imperiatoris corte) in a charte dating to 972, where it is listed among the lands Otto II gave his wife, the Byzantine princess Theophanu, as dower. But the castle on the Pfingstberg hill must have been in existence since the early 10th century.* Tilleda surely was part of the net of palatine seats in Thuringia and Saxony already at the time of King Heinrich I.

Palatine seats, sometimes also known as royal vills in England, were needed because the king had to show his presence to the people, taxes paid in food could not be transported and stored over long distances, so Mediaeval kings did a lot of traveling and wanted to stay in places of some comfort.

Outer gate seen from the inside with some wattle and daub houses in the foreground

The Pfingstberg hill lies north of the Kyffhäuser mountain ridge, a place that has become famous for the legend of the emperor Friedrich Barbarossa sleeping deep inside the mountain to return in time of great need. So far, no one has seen him, but he got a big, kitchy 19th century monument on top of the mountain. If that didn't wake him from of his sleep; I doubt anything will. *grin*

There are the remains of a 12th century castle halfway down the mountain as well, but when we got there, it turned out the restaurant at the monument hosted a major biker meeting and there were bikers everywhere in addition to the usual avalanches of tourists on a sunny day, so we decided against trying to find a parking lot only to photograph some ruins with a lot of people blocking the sights.

View from the gate to some houses, with the Kyffhäuser in the background

The seat of Tilleda has a trapezoid shape and covers an area of 5.6 hectares (about 350x250 metres). The part of the hill where the main castle is situated has steep slopes that fall down 25 metres on three sides, on it were additional fortifications in form of a trench and wall, partly of stone, partly timber palisades. Only to the west the land is flatter (but still some 10 metres above the surrounding terrain); there the outer bailey lies, once protected by walls of mortared ashlar (see below). Another, second outer bailey on the southern terrace near the river Wolwede has been excavated but not reconstructed.

The ground of the hill is sandstone on a layer of Zechstein gypsum which led to a rockfall probably in the early 11th century which destroyed part of the main hall in the northeast corner of the castle.

Interior of the outer gate, with my father looking out for enemies

The castle with the main hall, church and living quarters for the nobles - several of them with hypocaust heating - is separated from the outer bailey by a system of walls and trenches. Most of the buildings in the main castle were made of stone, or at least had stone foundations, though the hall was rebuilt as pillared longhouse after the rockfall. I will get back to the remains of those in another post.

The main wall with the palisades and the gate - in its second, stone version with timber upper storey - have been reconstructed, as well as one of the trenches.

Inner gate, seen from the outer bailey

The area between the main castle and the outer bailey had during Ottonian times served as some sort of middle castle with a granary and the living quarters of the chatellain / administator, but later, the fortifications were considerably strengthened. Maybe the defense purpose of the place became more important during quarrels between kings and nobles. King Lothar of Süpplingenburg destroyed the castle on the Kyffhäuser in 1118, for example.

We can trace a sojourn of Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa in Tilleda in 1174, and in 1194, Heinrich VI received the exiled Heinrich the Lion in reconciliatory meeting. Considering the symbolic element inherent to such actions in the Middle Ages, it proves that Tilleda was an important place; such meetings didn't take place in some backwater village.

Inner gate seem from the remains of the church

The outer bailey, encompassing about 60% of the entire site, is the most typical feature of the palatine seats of itinerant rulers. This large outer bailey was protected by a wall of mortared ashlar, both of local origins (some of the gypsum pits have been excavated). These walls have later been used as quarry and were only partly reconstructed; the rest of the layout is marked by a low earthen wall. The original height of the ashlar wall is unknown.

There were a lot of houses, mostly of the wattle and daub type, but also some timbered ones, and a number of pit houses. They served as workplaces, storage huts, and living quarters for the people involved in producing pottery, weavings and iron products on which this particular seat obviously specialised.

Rampart with access from the inner bailey

The fact that the reconstruction concentrated on those parts of the castle may be due to Tilleda having been a site in the former GDR where the interest in the working classes was much greater than in the kings. I don't know if there are plans to rebuild the royal hall as well though it would be nice.

The palatine seat has been abandoned by most of its inhabitants in the 13th century. Its purpose as housing for itinerant kings became useless when those prefered to live in the better fortified hilltop castles, and the various industries moved down to the Golden Valley (Goldene Aue) where the conditions obviously were more favourable.

View from the inner gate to the Kyffhäuser, with a pit house in the foreground

I'll get back to that unique place and show you some of the buildings next time. Some of them house Medieaval tools (looms and such) and give some glimpse of life in the 10th/11th centuries.

* Chartes issued in specific places and the mention of sites in chartes only give very incomplete information about those sites since much depends on chance of both historical events and preservation.

Sources:
Hans Eberhard, Paul Grimm. Die Pfalz Tilleda am Kyffhäuser - Ein Führer durch die Geschichte und Ausgrabungen. Halle/Saale, 2001

 


11.5.13
  Pilot Boat

Just a little something today. Pilot boats were a constant feature during last year's cruise since pilots were required to navigate the harbours, rivers, the Stockholm archipelago and other tricky waters. And those little red things were fun to watch.

Pilot boat arriving, full speed ahead

I took those photos in the Stockholm archipelago on a late but still sunny evening.

Another shot

It was literally dancing on the waves. Very pretty.

Going alongside

So you can compare size. Shot taken from the aft deck of the Albatross.

And leaving

This one was fetching the pilot which another vessel had brought onboard earlier.

 


Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction and Fantasy author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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I'm a writer of Historical Fiction and Fantasy living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.


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