Donnersberg keltische Oppidum
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member RakeInTheCache
N 49° 37.539 E 007° 55.720
32U E 422626 N 5497561
Quick Description: The Donnersberg is the highest point in the Rhineland-Palatinate. The Celts built a settlement (Oppidum) at the summit, of which the remains of a defensive rampart are still to be found.
Location: Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
Date Posted: 3/18/2007 7:16:24 AM
Waymark Code: WM1ARE
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member RakeInTheCache
Views: 172

Long Description:
Of particular interest is a reconstructed section of the original defensive wall around the settlement. The original perimeter wall extends for 8.5 km. It was constructed in the La Tene period (around 150 B.C.) There is an interpretive hiking trail that follows the traces of the old perimeter wall and also visits the rectangular religious sanctuary area (Viereckschanze). The trail is not always well marked and can be difficult in places to follow. These waypoints may help somewhat.

N49 37.571 E7 55.634 - Parking
N49 37.539 E7 55.720 - Reconstructed wall section
N49 37.794 E7 55.530 - Rectangular sanctuary area (Viereckschanze)
N49 38.149 E7 55.427 - North wall interpretive panel
N49 37.910 E7 55.250 - Exposed stone of the original wall
N49 37.854 E7 55.075 - West wall interpretive panel
N49 37.518 E7 54.897 - Königstuhl (highpoint)
N49 37.451 E7 55.654 - Southeast gate interpretive panel

My translation of the interpretive sign at the Viereckschanze.

German archologists have identified a special kind of monument from the late Celtic period (3rd - 1st century B.C.) as a "rectangular enclosure" ("Viereckschanze" in German). These constructions consist of a simple earthen rampart and ditch. They are always rectangular, but can vary in size. They can be almost square, or as here on the Donnersberg, more rectangular.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, the construction period and their purpose where completely unknown, and were mistaken for the ruins of more recent strongholds. Due to archeological excavations it was determined that they were Celtic monuments dating from the 3rd century B.C. and commonly built in Southwest Germany by the Celtic tribes who had settled here. Until the 1990s, these enclosures were consistently interpreted as Celtic sanctuaries, within which the occasional religious hut, small temple, or also religious shafts were to be found. Newer excavations have revealed that there are also such enclosures where agricultural related buildings stood within the surrounding rampart. These were apparently well defended farms. The actual function of many of these monuments is not clear up until today, because the interior of many enclosures were not thoroughly excavated in the past.

Such is the case presently for the enclosure on the Donnersberg; the excavation of 1974/1975 the outline of a small construction by means of four postholes was able to be established, yet it is unclear whether it served as a religious building, or as an outbuilding (storage shed) of a farm. An excavation by the archeological "Denkmalpflege Speyer" in September/October of 2006 concentrated on the question of the original function of the construction.

My translation of the interpretive sign at the Southeast gate.

The gates in Celtic settlements (Oppida) are always constructed as so-called "pincer" gates. The walls of the strong hold turn inwards left and right of the entry way and form a gate alley. These were on the front and back end barred by two-winged gates. One can suppose that the gate alley was covered from one rampart to the other by a wooden construction which provided a defense against potential invading enemies. The location of the gate at this site has not been excavated, yet the knowledge gained from other excavated gate locations can be applied here. The building technic of the gate construction matches that of the fortification as a whole. The wallfront of the gate alley was therefore almost certainly erected as a dry stone wall on top of the local rhyolite (granite) bedrock which was stablized by vertical wooden posts. These posts were anchored by crossbeams set into the embankment of the rampart. The south wall was renovated twice.

Excavations confirmed the existence of a V shaped ditch, 2 meters deep and 6 meters across, hewn out of the bedrock and running in front of the south wall in the area of the gate. Today it lies under the modern forest path.
Admission Fee (local currency): Free

Opening days/times:
24 x 7

Web Site: [Web Link]

Condition: Partially Reconstructed

Visit Instructions:
No special requirements.
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