List of prehistoric and early historical ramparts in Hesse

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May 17, 2022

The list of prehistoric and early historical ramparts in Hesse covers the multitude of such ramparts or fortifications in the form of circular ramparts, ramparts or fortified oppida from the Stone Age to the turn of the century (pre- and early history) that are located in what is now the federal state of Hesse. Most of them are only visible as traces of terrain or in the state of more or less well-preserved remains of ruins. The fortified systems are witnesses to our human history, cultural and/or archaeological monuments within the meaning of the Hessian Monument Protection Act. Research and targeted collection of finds are subject to approval, accidental finds are to be reported to the monument authorities. Illegal excavations can be prosecuted, usually cause serious damage to the archaeological monuments and often destroy important archaeological connections to history.

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These buildings, some of which can look back on a history of more than 7000 years, were centers of protection, locality and power, but often also had a function as a religious culmination point. There are ramparts and ramparts from about 6000 to 4000 BC. BC, Iron Age fortifications, as well as ramparts and oppida of the Celts from the Hallstatt and La Tène periods before the turn of the century. Most of the facilities have no written evidence and some have not yet been archaeologically examined in depth. Such fortifications are mainly known on mountains and ridges. Relief data produced in the present with lidar scanning show that these facilities were often much larger and also reveal small surface differences, so that blurred facilities become visible again. So-called earthworks from the plain or along rivers are known from the Neolithic Age, ranging from a single to a multiple ditch system; Ramparts as an approach obstacle were generally not built. Even if their function is often not completely clarified, the intensive archaeological investigations of the approx. 14 ha large Calden earthwork show, for example, that it was hardly used for protection, but rather for cultic acts or burial rituals. The earthworks were only recently found through aerial photography or prospecting, as they were often very quickly backfilled. Of the later ramparts, today almost only the rampart is visible as the main element of the fortification. It can have been constructed in various ways, as a simple earthen mound, as a wood-earth construction, as a post slot wall, as a stone wall or even as a wall. Former wood-earth walls, but also those made of stone, are often only recognizable as what appears to be a mound of earth. A moat was usually in front of the ring wall; the wall could have been supplemented by a palisade, using mainly natural terrain edges. In many cases, the builders erected multiple concentric ring walls and additional section walls, allowing for more effective defenses against attackers. Evidence of internal buildings – if they exist – is only possible in rare cases today. Such complexes, larger ones are often surrounded by multiple ramparts with annexes and sectional ramparts, are usually considerably larger than later medieval hilltop castles. It is not uncommon for such ring walls to enclose up to 150 hectares, but between one and around 15 hectares are normal. An exception to pre-Christian fortifications is the Rentmauer rampart near Weilrod-Rod an der Weil in the Hochtaunuskreis. The facility, which has not yet been explored, could be interpreted as a quadrangular ski jump and is dated to the La Tène period. It would occupy a special position for the Hessian area, since such systems are only known from southern Germany south of the Odenwald. From the subsequent time of the Germans, to d