Graphic from Altmühlzentrum Dollnstein
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Ottonian dynasty and Staufer time


Ottonian dynasty and Staufer time

Ottonian dynasty time

after 900 A.D.

Ohne einen archäologischen Nachweis führen zu können, ist es wahrscheinlich, dass im Zuge der Bedrohung durch die Ungarn auf dem Sporn von Hirschberg eine Befestigungsanlage mit Wall und Graben errichtet worden ist. Without being able to provide archaeological evidence, it is likely that in the course of the threat of the Hungarians a fortification with ramparts and a moat was established on the spur of Hirschberg. Die strategisch wichtige Lage an der Ostgrenze des Eichstätter Bistums könnte der Grund dafür gewesen sein. The strategically important location on the eastern border of the diocese of Eichstätt could have been the reason for this. Der Eichstätter Bischof hatte von König Ludwig dem Kind im Jahr 908 die Erlaubnis zum Burgenbau für den genannten Zweck erhalten. In 908 The bishop of Eichstätt had received permission from King Ludwig the Child to build castles for the forementioned purpose. Ähnlich wie in Kipfenberg (Michelsberg) könnte dort in spätottonischer bzw. salischer Zeit eine Burg als steinernes Bauwerk entstanden sein. Similar to Kipfenberg (Michelsberg), a castle could have been built there as a stone building in the late Ottonian or Salic period.

Excavation photo with foundations of the round tower
Vessel with wavebands on the shoulder

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Excavations in the Kaiserbeck estate

Sketch of the Kaiserbeck house with its gothic stepped gable
The Kaiserbeck estate in the condition of 1911
The Kaiserbeck house, which was renovated lavishly by the Zrenner / Amrhein family, shines as a new gem in the center of Beilngries.
The post pits, visible here as a dark soil discoloration, in the courtyard room showing the location of a previous building from around 1000 A.D.
Tap made out of brass from the 15th century

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Many people living in Beilngries still remember the last farm in the city center, built in the 16th century, called "Kaiserbeck". After the Zrenner / Amrhein family, who own the neighboring hotel, had acquired the property, work started in 2008 after a long phase of planning the renovation of the property at 25 Main Street. While the main building could be renovated extensively and at high costs, the stables in the courtyard were demolished. This created the opportunity of carrying out several excavations that revealed interesting results.

Thus, it was found that in the area of ​​the future stables there was a previous building from the High Middle Ages (around 1000 A.D.). Due to chemical processes in the soil, the posts of the buildings, which were built in timber construction at that time, had left black spots, which were clearly visible during the excavations in a deeper layer of the ground. Post pits from the High and Late Middle Ages were exposed. In addition, ceramic remains were found that can be attributed to the High Middle Ages. Overall, the excavations provided evidence of a settlement at this point at the time of the Ottonians. These are the oldest finds within the city walls of Beilngries.

Underneath the main building a rectangular bend was dug up, with the help of which the ground plan of the medieval building can be deduced.

A special feature is the discovery of a small tap, also called “chick handle”. The object, made in the shape of a small cock, dates back to the 15th century and was probably made in Nuremberg.

The carefully restored main building is now used as the café and bar "Der Kaiserbeck". A small documentation of the excavations and the history of the house is shown on the staircase.

According toNach Michael JandejsekAccording Acoor Michael Jandejsek

Excavations at Castle Hirschberg

The aerial view shows the excavation situation at the eastern end of the mountain spur.
The wall profile
The circumstances at the gate
a very deep prefoundation possibly belonging to a previous building
A dry masonry wall in a herringbone pattern
The circumstances at the gate

By the end of the 12th century, the counts of Dollnstein-Grögling built a new castle high above the Altmühltal near Beilngries on a three-sided steep Jurassic ridge and thereby moved their residence from Dollnstein (market town) to Hirschberg (village).Fortan nannten sie sich Grafen von Hirschberg, vermutlich in Anlehnung an den Namen der urkundlich belegten Grafschaft Hirschberg. From then on they called themselves Counts of Hirschberg, probably based on the name of the documented county Hirschberg.

Die Lage der Feste gestattete den Einblick in drei Täler und gewährleistete damit optimale Sichtverhältnisse in Kriegs- und Friedenszeiten.The location of the fortress made it possible for them to oversee three valleys and thus ensured optimal visibility in times of war and peace. Darüber hinaus besaß die weithin sichtbare Burg sicherlich einen nicht unbeträchtlichen Abschreckungswert.In addition, the castle certainly provided a ­con­si­der­able degree of deterrence as it was visible from afar.

With the death of Gebhard VII. in 1305 the dynasty of the Hirschberger family died out. The Bavarian Dukes and the bishops of Eichstätt inherited his properties. By judicial means, however, the majority of the property was received by the bishops of Eichstätt, whose guardian reeves were the Counts of Hirschberg (1249 – 1293). The castle experienced a varied history; more recently, it has been used by the episcopalian chair of Eichstätt as a religious exercise house. Along with extensive renovation work on Hirschberg Castle in 1988, excavations were carried out in the outer spur area. As the most important finding we could document the plan of the medieval round tower. The walls are made of carefully carved limestone blocks and were built using a clamshell technique. The living and defense tower is 16m in diameter. During one of the construction works untouched by the working area, the shard of a vessel with strongly profiled edge and wavy ornaments emerged, as it is found frequently in the area surrounding Beilngries. It generally dates to the 10th to 12th centuries. With its strong foundation and mighty walls, the tower is said to have reached a minimum height of 15m and thus must have been widely visible, further underlined by its spur location. A safe dating of the structure causes difficulties, since the study areas are small and the building was rebuilt several times, but it gives us already a first clue concerning the presented shard. A first documented mentioning of the county of Hirschberg dates back to the year 1007. It’s probably safe to put the building into the 11th century, possibly even into the end of the 10th century. Even if the complex did not exist at the time of the severe invasions of Hungarians that came to an end after the Battle of Lechfeld in 955, it could still be related to them and the construction could date to the decades after that, as the threat from the East was not completely banished. The strategic location of the fortified tower in the east of the old Nordgau could have protected the surrounding monasteries and the rural population from a new invasion of the Hungarians.

according to A. Tillmann, Das archäologische Jahr in Bayern 1988. Stuttgart 1989 (abridged)

First mention of Beilngries in the year 1007

Beilngries had gained importance in the meantime. Kaiser Heinrich II schenkte damals Beilngries an das neu gegründete Bistum Bamberg, wo es aber nur kurze Zeit verblieb. At that time Emperor Heinrich II donated Beilngries to the newly founded diocese of Bamberg, where it remained only for a short time. Wahrscheinlich erfolgte daraufhin der Bau des gewaltigen Rundturms am vordersten Bergsporn von Hirschberg als bisher ältester Bauteil einer Burganlage, die wohl in enger Beziehung zu den Grafen von Sulzbach stand.The construction of the huge round tower on the foremost mountain spur of Hirschberg probably followed then as by far the oldest component of a castle, which was probably in close relationship to the Counts of Sulzbach.

Portrait / Emperor Heinrich II.
Certificate facsimile

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Beilngries receives the market rights by Emperor Henry III. im Jahr 1053 n. Chr. in the year 1053 A.D.

In 1053 Henry III gave the Bishop of Eichstätt the market rights for Beilngries. Neben der verkehrsgünstigen Lage dürfte wohl die Bautätigkeit auf dem Hirschberger "Burgberg" diese Entwicklung entscheidend gefördert haben. In addition to the easily accessible location, the construction activity on the "Burgberg" in Hirschberg should have decisively promoted this development.


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11th century

parish fairs by Bishop Gundekar
Facsimile of the certificate of Heinrich IV from the year 1080

In the 11th century, a number of churches in stone construction were built in some places, which are attested by parish fairs of Bishop Gundekar II (Denkendorf, Kevenhüll, Kirchbuch, Oening, Pfraundorf, Töging, Holnstein). Eine Reihe von Ortschaften um Beilngries werden 1080 erstmals genannt, als Heinrich IV. den Wildbann an Bischof Udalrich verlieh. A number of settlements around Beilngries are first mentioned in 1080, when Henry IV gave the royal hunting right to Bishop Udalrich.

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Staufer time

In the 12th century the great period of the ministerials begins. Es entstehen zahlreiche kleine Ansitze, zumeist Talburgen wie etwa in Grögling, Ottmaring, Töging, Rauenwörth, Rieshofen, Pfünz, Obereichstätt. There are numerous small residences, mostly valley castles such as Grögling, Ottmaring, Töging, Rauenwörth, Rieshofen, Pfünz, Obereichstätt. In Beilngries selbst saß ein Adelsgeschlecht, welches sich seit dem 12. Jahrhundert nach dem Ort selbst nannte. In Beilngries itself there was a noble family, which called itself after the place since the 12th century. Ob sie bereits den "Turm" bei der Kirche errichteten und damit als Erbauer der Burg im Markt anzusehen sind, muss der Forschung überlassen werden. Whether they already erected the "tower" at the church and thus have to be regarded as the builders of the castle in the market, must be left to further research.
Der Steinbau hatte vor allem in der Errichtung von Kirchen seine Blütezeit. The stone construction had its heyday especially in the construction of churches. Neben der Kirche des Marktes Beilngries ist die Gründung des Klosters Plankstetten zu nennen, sowie der Bau vieler Ortskirchen, insbesondere jener, die von Bischof Otto geweiht wurden. In addition to the church of the market town of Beilngries the foundation of the monastery Plankstetten should be mentioned, as well as the construction of many local churches, especially those which were consecrated by Bishop Otto.
Gegen Ende des 12. Jahrhunderts kam die Grafschaft im Nordgau an die Grafen von Grögling-Dollnstein, also die Schutzvögte der Eichstätter Kirche. Towards the end of the 12th century, the county in Nordgau was taken by the counts of Grögling-Dollnstein, the reeves of the church of Eichstätt. Damit begann der Umbau, richtiger gesagt der Neubau der Grafenburg von Hirschberg. This was the beginning of the conversion, or rather the new construction of Castle Hirschberg. Schon 1180 nannte sich Konrad nach Hirschberg; Already in 1180 Konrad called himself “Hirschberg”; er war der Kämmerer der Grafen. he was the chamberlain of the counts. 1205 tat dies auch das Grafengeschlecht als Zeichen dafür, dass sie ihren Sitz dorthin verlegt hatten. In 1205, the Count family did so as well as a sign that they had moved their seat there.
Was die Entwicklung von Beilngries seit seiner Gründung angeht, insbesondere seit der Erhebung zum Markt, liegt noch vieles im Dunkeln. There is still a great deal to be learned as far as the development of Beilngries since its foundation is concerned, especially since the market survey. Die Archäologie hat es sich zur Aufgabe gemacht, die nichtschriftlichen Geschichtsquellen zu untersuchen, um Kenntnis von den Geschehnissen in dieser dunklen Vergangenheit zu erhalten. Archeology has set itself the task of examining the non-written sources of history in order to gain knowledge of the events in this dark past.

Händleinspfennig. Excavation findings from Beilngries approx. 1300
Händleinspfennig. Excavation findings from Beilngries approx. 1300
Bronze fittings from Badanhausen 14th century
Bronze fittings from Badanhausen 14th century (lion)
Quatrefoil cup made of light clay, not decorated. Popular vessel from the late Middle Ages. Hirschberg
Bowl of white clay with basis, decorated with wavy lines. The holes could have been used to attach a drum skin. Hirschberg
Female figure with robe from the Gothic period, madonna? White clay. Hirschberg

15th century

Drawing at Castle Hirschberg

Probably view of Beilngries in the mortar plaster of the foundations of Castle Hirschberg.

During the archaeological investigations at Hirschberg Castle in 1988, a remarkable drawing probably of the town of Beilngries was uncovered. In anticipation of a modern new building on the northeast side of the kennel, the area of the kennel was cleared of the filled rubble. This revealed the former Romanesque ring wall of the count´s castle, which showed a plaster coating over the foundation. When this was still damp after application, a street line with house gables had been carved with the finger. In the overall view, one has the gabled houses of a street in front of one another. The representative gables belong to two-storey, even three-storey houses built next to each other with portal-like entrance doors, some with pointed arched endings. Most of the windows are only indicated by vertical lines, a few show a floor. The lines on the roofs probably symbolize stair gables. At the corner of a house you can see a little corner tower. In the left third of the picture there is a cross on a roof, below it you can see a large round-arched window. Perhaps this means a church tower.

Above the row of houses there is a spire, next to it another tower without the usual roof. The way of presentation is however quite typical for late medieval representations of tower endings.

If you want to interpret the drawing, we have the main street of Beilngries with the show sides of the town houses in front of us, and the tower symbols above could represent the former count's castle Hirschberg. The time when Bishop Friedrich IV of Oettingen had surrounded Hirschberg by a kennel wall could be a possible time for this. That would have been around 1420.