Thursday, February 08, 2007

Germany Day 4 (Chrismas Eve)

One of the things that I had said that I would like to do is to see some Celtic ruins that are in the area. My friend had worked on an archaeological dig at a very large hill fort called Dunsberg. Dun, of course, means "fort" or "fortified enclosure", in all Celtic languages. Berg in German means "hill" so, in a linguistically mixed kind of way, Dunsberg means "hill fort". So we piled into the car and drove down to Dunsberg.

One of the first things that struck me once we arrived at the sight were the reconstructions that they had placed at the carpark at the bottom of the hill. These were nothing like the round houses of Britain. They are very much like normal housing (you can see them in my Flickr account for that day) with steep roofs, which would have probably been there because of the snow. The reconstructed gate, however, looked almost exactly like one you would expect in Britain in later centuries. Using the construction, I was able to show my flatmate how the herald would identify the troops of warriors who would arrive at the fort from time to time. This motif of the watchman giving the king or queen descriptions and names of the new arrivals is something that is highly refined in early Irish literature (and in the Illiad as well). It was great to be able to see a reconstructed gate like that.

We took a walk up the reconstructed path through the different gates of the fort. There were four going in a rough circle up the hill to the top. There is not much left of them, however. All you can really see are the lumps left over. I took some pictures of them but really they are not really all that interesting to look at now. At the time, there were probably several thousand people who lived and worked there and several more who lived in the valleys surrounding the hill.

After this, we had a picnic on the side of the road on the way to my friend's father's town of birth. It was interesting to see the places that no tourist ever really gets to see. We took their wee dog for a walk then made our way to one of the most amazing houses that I have seen. My friend's father's friend (this is really getting tedious) lives in a very traditional German house (probably from the 13th century), which he is lovingly restoring to its former glory. The house had a gate and a courtyard for bringing horse carriages. On the left hand side is the stable, where he keeps horses for other people. Front and center is the house proper and on the right is the barn which is connected to the stable by a covered walkway that forms part of the gate and wall. Once I got some pictures, we had a sleepy Christmas-eve with friends kind of time in his kitchen. He and his wife did not speak any English but we had a grand time anyway.

Once we had exchanged gifts, we went home to decorate the tree and have one of the best Atlantic salmons that I have ever had. We lit the candles on the tree (this is very common in Europe even with real trees) and exchanged gifts and listened to music. A very relaxed and grand time for all.

posted by Chris  #9:57 PM | 0 comments |