Thursday, June 21, 2012

Amateur Archeology at Burg Waldeck

Have you ever been somewhere where you’ve wished you had a shovel and metal detector?  That is how I felt when I visited the castle ruins at Waldeck.

OK, now I’ll admit that I love archeology.  You’ll find me glued to the TV set watching a program called “Time Team” on BBC…where they go around to farmers’ fields in Britain and dig up old Roman ruins, or traces of Anglo-Saxon settlements…or whatever they can dig up, literally.

When I poke around old castle ruins around Germany, I usually want to know a little more about the site…but the urge to start digging doesn’t normally hit me as hard as it did here.  The only other time I can remember wanting to dig so badly was when I visited the Incan ruins at Ollantaytambo in Peru.  I just “knew” there was something important buried there.

I found Waldeck much in the same way that I find most of the castles in Germany…I see it referenced on a map, and then I go looking for it.  This Waldeck (there are a number of castles named ‘Waldeck’ in Germany) was out near the Mosel, but not actually on the river.  So, as I drove around, getting nearer to the point on the map, I was stopped at a checkpoint where I had to pay to park in a field.  Hmm, they were having some event at the castle.  OK, I’m always game to join in…

As it turns out, there was a folk music festival on the castle grounds.  But, you couldn’t see the castle from the grounds. I was told that the castle was run by a youth organization and that the general public couldn’t go in.  Bummer.  So, I decided to enjoy the folk music instead.

Ahhh, but I talked to one of the local ladies, and she told me about other castles in the area.  Then she asked me if I had seen the ruins of the “old castle”.  What?  Yes, there are two castles “Waldeck” there – the newer one, run by the youth organization – and the older one, that anyone can go see.  So, she led me on a 15 minute tromp through the woods to the “old castle”.  Perfect – just what I wanted!  As we came upon the castle ruins, it was almost like a scene from ‘Tomb-Raider’, where the overgrown ruins seemed like they had been untouched for decades (well, except for the graffiti on the old castle walls).  That’s when I wanted to start digging!

Most of the castle ruins in Germany are cared for by some organization –it may be the local town, or the State, or an interested organization.  Even though they are ruins, they usually have evidence of the care – a bench, or signs, or railings for the stone steps.  But, Waldeck seemed uncared for – untouched…and a perfect place for an amateur archeologist.