#heritageMW: Beautiful and mystical baroque carvings in Posterstein Church

LogoMW_PostersteinA whole week on Twitter is dedicated to the museums in the world: #MuseumWeek. At Posterstein Castle we blog on each days hashtag. Today everybody tweets and talks about #heritageMW, our chance to point at the mystical boroque castle church in Posterstein:

Burg Posterstein mit Kirche
Posterstein castle and church

Seen from outside, nobody would expect something special inside the small church of Posterstein. Built inside the former castle mout, the church looks small compared to the castle itself. After fights with the neighbouring landlords in Nöbdenitz, the owners of Posterstein Castle built their own church in the second half of the 16th century.

Legendary baroque splendour

Detail des barocken Schnitzwerkes in der Burgkirche Posterstein (Picture: Museum Burg Posterstein)
Detail of the varoque carvings in the church of Posterstein (Foto: Museum Burg Posterstein)

Although the church community always has been protestant, the church looks nearly cathlic style inside. The church became famous for the extremely rich equipment with baroque carvings that demonstrate masterly craftsmanship. The altar is seen as the highlight of the works. The baldachin, on which the passion is shown, is supported by four open-work, spiral hollow columns, made of one piece and decorated with leaves, tendrils and grapes. The pulpit shows the figures of the four evangelists and is crowned by a “roof” with a tall angel on top.

The artwork and the murder case

Inschrift unter der Empore in der Postersteiner Burgkirche
Inscribtion underneath the gallery of Posterstein church (Picture: Museum Burg Posterstein)

The only lead to the artist of Posterstein church’s wood carvings is a small inscription underneath the gallery: „Johannis Hopf 1689“. An old Posterstein legend tells that Johannis Hopf was a wood carver who committed a deadly crime on his way through the local region and was sent to the prison of the fortress. During his captivity he is supposed to make the carvings in the chapel. It is said that Hopf’s death penalty was changed into life long imprisonment as a reward for the magnificent decoration of the church.

In spite of intensive research the true story of the Posterstein carvings could not be explored yet.

Marlene Hofmann / Museum Burg Posterstein

Read more:
The Church of Posterstein

By high-wheel bicycle to Italy

Das über 100 Jahre alte Hochrad gehört zur Sammlung des Museums Burg Posterstein.
The more than 100 year old high-wheel bicycle is part of the collection of the museum Posterstein Castle.

We have unpacked our high-wheel bicycle for the Historical Society in  Ronneburg, which is doing research.  Maybe it is the bicycle which Hugo Barthol, head of a print shop in Ronneburg, used to travel to Italy for more than 100 years ago.

1884 Hugo Barthol from Ronneburg travelled by high-wheel bicycle to Italy – an uncomfortable and energy-sapping way of travelling. On his way he visited Straßburg,  Kehl, Freiburg, Kandern, Basel, Schaffhausen, Konstanz, Friedrichshafen, Winterthur, Zürich, Luzern, Milano, Turin and Napoli.

(Based on research of the former director of the museum in Ronneburg, Prof. Dr. H. Schmidt)

The Slawic settlement in the County of Altenburg

Since the sixth century the Slavic settlement area expanded to the rivers Elbe and Saale. In this time Slavic tribes settled in today’s County of Altenburg, too. In the following time Germanic farmers, who already had settled in the region, were absorbed by the Slavic tribes.

The Slavic tribe, which settled most in the West, was called Sorbs. Their settlement area reached from the upper river Mulde and the river Elster to the river Saale. They structured their land with the help of natural forest borders in so-called “Gaue” (districts). In the centre of a Gau there was a Gauburg, a fortress. The county of Altenburg belonged to the districts Geraha and Plisni. Close to the villages Löbichau, Nöbdenitz, Vollmershain and Thonhausen there was the border between Plisni and Geraha.

Rittergut Meuselwitz / Meuselwitz Manor (c) Museum Burg Posterstein

The place name Meuselwitz reveals the town’s Slavic origin (Picture (c) Museum Burg Posterstein)

Place names and the form of a village reveal Slavic settlement

Almost 70 percent of all place names in the County of Altenburg have Slavic roots. Typical for Slavic place names are their endings: Former Slavic endings as –ici und -ovici are preserved as –itz (e.g. Raudenitz, Sommeritz) and –witz (e.g. Meuselwitz) in today’s place names, while villages that once ended on –ovo, -ova and –ove, today end with –a and –au, as for example Lohma, Kosma and Löbichau. Slavic place names that originally had the endings –ine, -ina and –ino, end today normally on –eu. With this knowledge today’s villages’ origins can be traced back by their names. While the villages Nischwitz, Nitschka and Zschernitzsch obviously have Slavic roots, their neighbour villages Grünberg, Heyersdorf and Weißbach originally were Germanic settlements.

Also the form of a village can give a hint on its origin. While the German settlements in the region often are a kilometre long row of houses and farms, the Slavic founded villages have a rather round centre, called „Rundling“.

Excavation in boxes

A part of Posterstein castle’s permanent exhibition deals with the region’s archaeology. To the collection belong for example potsherds from the Neolithic, hand-axes and querns from the stone-age as well as different other tools. As a part of the museum’s children’s program, children can learn about archaeology and try to be archaeologists themselves in the museum. With trowel and pencil they can search for archaeological artefacts in boxes with sand. Have they found something, they identify their find with the help of the museum’s collection. Afterwards they’ll write an archaeological report on their find. The program lasts about half an hour and is dedicated to children between eight and twelve years, for example for school classes and as a part of a birthday party in the museum.

Slawische Funde (Bild: Museum Burg Posterstein)

Slavic finds (picture: Museum Burg Posterstein)

Current archaeological research in the County of Altenburg 

In spring 2012, from March 4th to April 30th, Museum Burg Posterstein will show a special exhibition on recent archaeological research in the County of Altenburg. The focus will lie on the last years’ finds and the exhibition will be made in co-operation with the Thuringian department for archaeology and preservation of monuments (Thüringischen Landesamt für Archäologie und Denkmalpflege).

(by Marlene Hofmann)

The earth shakes in Posterstein

Since the end of August once in a while the earth judders in Posterstein Region. The nearest seismometer station in Heukewalde, driven by Jena University, noted light earthquake swarms in that time. In the so-called Vogtland region and parts of West Saxony quakes measuring 4.0 on the Richter magnitude scale were documented (see: Ostthüringer Zeitung). You can have a look at the latest seismometer graphs on the university’s web page, where you can search after the station with the name HKWD (Heukewalde)

Seismometer graph from the station in Heukewalde, September 4th 2011

Why does the earth shake?

The earth is divided in different tectonic plates. Especially on the borders of a plate, where two plates are pushing against each other, heavy earthquakes can occur. But Posterstein region lies far away from the borders of the Eurasian plate. Responsible for the mostly harmless so-called intra plate quakes, that happen once in a while, is pressure on the Eurasian plate from West and South. In the Vogtland region there are many smaller blocks and cracks that also earlier in the history have led to lighter earthquake swarms. Today the Seismic network of Thuringia monitors and scientifically explores the region. Earlier there was a seismometer installed in the cellar of Posterstein castle as well, but as vibrations caused by the castle’s visitors climbing on the tower distorted the measuring, the station was moved to near-by Heukewalde.

The Middle-European earthquake of 1872

The heaviest earthquake in the region was registered on March 6th 1872 – its centre lay between Posterstein and Schmölln. Karl Theordor Liebe (1828-1894), professor at the Princely Grammar School in Gera, was reporting on the earthquake’s impacts in Posterstein. Among others, he writes that the castle’s tower was shaking and bigger rocks came rolling down the hill. At that time deep cracks occurred in the three metre thick wall of the tower and in the walls of the castle’s bridge:

Crack in the castle's bridge before the restoration (picture from 1985, Museum Burg Posterstein)

„On the old castle we have seen a lot of new cracks, which took there way through grout and stone. In the cellar of the old castle came so much material off the ceiling that more than a 100 litres of milk became useless. The new castle (manor house), which is standing next to the old castle, has 1.2 metre thick walls and in the first floor 0.9 metre thick walls. But there doesn’t exist a single room without cracks in the walls and ceiling”, wrote Karl Theodor Liebe.

The crack in the bridge was repaired during the restoration in 1997, but you still can see the crack in the tower on your way to the top of the tower.

Contemporary witnesses report

Crack in the castle's tower's wall

The teacher and historian Ernst Bräunlich from Posterstein recorded the memories of the pastor Johann Michael Nürnberger from Nöbdenitz, who had witnessed the 1872 earthquake himself: „In the village people came running out of their houses from all ways and they told that they were hasty leaving their houses in fear. The trees had been shaking and on the road they had heard a ratting as if 6 or 8 wagons with heavy load passed by in trot. In the village seven chimneys collapsed. The incidence was the main topic of conversation in a long time.”

The light quake from September 4th 2011 was noted by locals, too. The heaviest vibration could be observed between 4 and 5 in the morning. On our Facebook wall a witness wrote that she woke up because of the chattering in the sleeping room.

Seismometer in Posterstein

In the castle’s permanent exhibition you can have a look at a seismometer and read more about earthquakes in the Posterstein region – more information on www.burg-posterstein.de.

(Text: Marlene Hofmann)

Every half hour a chime of the bell

The turret clock of Posterstein Castle
The turret clock of Posterstein Castle

The clock hands are shining golden in the sun. When you stand on the bridge in front of Posterstein castle, you can see the turret clock. It strikes the full and the half hours.

Many intelligent people have commented on time during the years: Ovid, for example, is said to have spoken the words: “Times are changing and we are changing with them” and Orwell noted: “Times does not pass quicker than earlier, but we pass it in a hurry”. And already Einstein knew: “Time is what we read off the clock”. – How true!

Already Einstein knew: Time is what we read off the clock

That takes us back to the turret clock of Posterstein. Its clockwork dates back to the year 1902 and it was restored the last time in 2010. The gilding is authentic. On the clock face you can see the date 1869, probably the year when it was installed.

The gilding is authentic.
The gilding is authentic.

The chime, which you can hear every half hour, is even older. The bell is dating back to 1571 and it is garnished by the family crest of the knights Pflugk, which owned the castle for several generations. On the clock is written: “Caesar Pflugk of Stein let cast me in Freiberg Anno MDLXXI”. Earlier on the manor Posterstein the bell rang when work had to begin and end and when there was fire, the chime of the bell signalized fire alarm.