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As Fliehburg (also a refuge , people Castle , peasant fortress or Vryburg ), a castle-like referred surrounded mostly by ramparts defense system, which was not permanently inhabited, but served a locally resident population as a temporary retreat in danger of war. In terms of their construction, they are mostly wall castles .

In past centuries, such complexes were often referred to with historically incorrect, legendary names, such as Hünenburgen , the creation of which was attributed to Hünen , or as Heidenburgen, since Heiden was supposed to be the builder, or Hun castles , in connection with the Hun Storm .


Babilonie in the Wiehengebirge, rampart of the pre-Roman Iron Age
Reconstructed late Roman refuge at Katzenberg near Mayen

In Europe, archaeological excavations have proven a large number of large ramparts (mostly more than 100 m in diameter) from prehistoric times , which as refuges mainly from the Hallstatt period (from around 800 BC), especially the Latène period (450 BC) . up to the time of the birth of Christ). About the ancient historiography , among other things, the refuges of the Gauls and other Celts , which Caesar called oppidum , are known, but they could also be permanent settlements; The Celtic Oppida are often larger, urban-like and fortified settlements from the La Tène period (late Iron Age). Similar ring ramparts ( ramparts ) were also built by the various Germanic and Slavic peoples, the latter well into the Middle Ages , either as places of escape or permanent settlement. The main building material used was earth, but also wood and stone in various construction methods.

The refuges built by the Romans themselves from the time around 300 AD, when the Limes was overrun and Germanic tribes raided Roman Germania ( Limesfall ), corresponded to the highly developed Roman military architecture .

The transition from refuges to permanently inhabited places has often been fluid or in alternating phases, depending on the threat situation. The water supply, the proximity or distance to fertile plains or trade routes, the altitude with a panoramic view or forest, for defense or as a hiding place in times of war or as a place of retreat for valley dwellers during floods were also decisive. The spectrum ranges from simple ramparts with palisades , in which people and cattle could briefly escape to safety, to hut villages within the ramparts that are inhabited for a longer period of time. The hilltop settlements during the migration period , especially in the 4th and 5th centuries AD, sometimes even took on a city-like character. In Italy such hilltop settlements are often inhabited to this day, in the Eastern Roman Empire they are called castrones . Refugee castles were built during the migration of the peoples by the advancing Germanic tribes as well as by the Roman citizens who protected themselves from them , including the Romanized Germanic population in the Roman Empire . Roman refuges can be found around the Ardennes and Eifel, those of the Alamanni in southwest Germany, the Thuringians in central Germany , the Romanized Celts in the Alps, Italy and the Roman population in the Balkans. After the end of the Western Roman Empire, these facilities were partially used by the invading Goths and Lombards .

In the 8th century, the conflicts between Franconia and Saxony (the Saxon Wars of Charlemagne ) led to the construction of refuges, often on ridges that had been settled in pre-Christian times. At the foot of mountains with Saxon walls, such as Syburg or Eresburg, Franconian royal courts were often laid out. Soon afterwards the Normans invaded all of Europe (9th / 10th century AD), at the same time the Saracens in the Mediterranean area (from around 700 AD) and between 899 and 955 the Hungarian invasions followed , also throughout Europe , and again, refuges were built or old refuges and settlements on hills were re-fortified. The Hungary ramparts , however, emerged unlike previous refuges, not spontaneous, but rather centrally planned due to the castle order that King Henry I on the court day of Worms (926) issued. In addition to the expansion of older ramparts, previously defenseless cities and markets were fortified with walls.

Reconstructed Slavic refugee castle in Raddusch (Niederlausitz)

The Slavic ramparts are to be seen in connection with the simultaneous construction of castles in the neighboring German areas, as defensive measures against the German settlement in the east . They only occur where independent Slavic societies existed, so they are absent despite Slavic settlement in Thuringia , in the Main-Regnitz area ( Bavaria Slavica ) and in Lower Austria , because this is where the Slavs settled within Eastern Franconia .

Even later in the Middle Ages, refuges were built by farmers. These peasant castles served the rural population as protection from marauding war hordes. The fortifications usually did not have much in common with the permanently inhabited castles built by the nobility , but often consisted only of earth fortifications and wooden palisades on easily defended heights.

The medieval fortified churches and fortified churches also served as refuges. They were primarily used as a village church, but thanks to the fortifications, they were also suitable as a temporary refuge for the villagers. The wall of the churchyard, which served in its actual function as a cemetery, was expanded into a defensive wall in fortified churches , and the church tower could also take on a defensive function.

Shape of the plants

Refugee castles consisted mostly of earthworks and ramparts ( ramparts ), were sometimes laid out as square entrenchments and often had palisades . As a rule, refuges have no towers, but sometimes gate tower- like superstructures (see Bennigser Burg ) occur. Refugee castles of this type belonged to unfortified rural settlements and offered protection to the population of a region in the event of an enemy attack, while the settlements mostly fell prey to looting and destruction by the attackers. In the event of a siege , the extensive refuges could also be equipped with provisions. Since refuges were mostly not permanent settlements, archaeological excavations often found only a few remains.

Refugee castles in Germany (with time indication)

Floor plan of the Herlingsburg
Reconstruction of the Iron Age hill fort (4th century BC) on the Tönsberg in the archaeological open-air museum in Oerlinghausen

Refugee castles in Austria

The Fliehburg on a hill is a late antique fort built around 400 AD, which had the task of securing the road crossing into the Gailtal, i.e. it was not primarily built as a refuge. During excavations, an early Christian church was uncovered next to the fortifications inside the fort.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Refuge  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations