Viereckschanzen near Nordheim (Württemberg)

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The two Viereckschanzen near Nordheim in the district of Heilbronn are closed moats of the Celts from the late Latène period , the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. They are located west of the Neckar in the old settlement country with its fertile loess soil . Agriculture has completely leveled them and no longer visible on the ground; only from the air do the trenches appear as dark traces in the agricultural field.

The two Viereckschanzen near Nordheim, two of the eleven known ski jumps on the middle Neckar, have been completely excavated. The excavations in Won coppersmith were carried out in 1995/96 and in Won breaking height 1999/2000, both by Andrea Neth. The unusually rich and diverse collection of finds gives a clear insight into their function.

Viereckschanze coppersmith


The Viereckschanze in Gewann Kupferschmied in the Nordheimer Flur lies on a steeply sloping southern slope above a small stream that flows into the Neckar. The ditch that can be seen in the aerial photo forms a slightly warped square with sides between 101 and 113 meters. Behind a trench between 3.5 and 6.5 meters wide and between 1.2 and 2.4 meters deep and the earth wall built with the trench excavation on the inside, there were three wooden buildings, two pit houses sunk about one meter into the ground and five round pits. Another wooden building stood on the south side outside the facility. The entrance with gate and wooden bridge, which is probably in the south, was destroyed by a water channel that later eroded into the ground.

For the main building with a floor area of ​​240 m² (16.5 × 14.5 m), a height of around 15 meters can be calculated from the roof pitch required for a watertight thatched roof. It stood on the upper, northern edge of the complex, probably on a terraced square. With its mighty posts set up in a rectangle inside and an outer row of densely placed smaller posts, the main building belongs to the type of so-called gallery buildings and its floor plan is reminiscent of a temple. While the five round pits served as storage cellars and the two pit houses (4.5 × 3 m) were probably used as workshops, the smaller wooden buildings (12 × 12 m, 10 × 4 m, 7 × 6 m) were probably farm buildings. The load-bearing framework of the half-timbered houses consisted of sturdy, vertical wooden posts, between which a plastered, clay-plastered rod network was stretched. All the buildings and the pits were close to the wall around a free space in the center of the facility, which was destroyed and leveled at some point by a large fire; Post pits filled with burnt clay and a layer of charcoal over the finds in the trench make this clear.

Found good

Unusually rich and varied finds were recovered, mainly from the trenches. Large quantities of pottery shards came to light: fragments of coarse handcrafted bowls and bowls, but also fragments of thin-walled vessels made on the turntable, some with colored paint. The large number of smashed briquette days - clay pans used to extract and transport salt - testify to the considerable consumption of salt that was needed to preserve meat and came from the salt works in Schwäbisch Hall . About 10,000 animal bones were found in the ground, bones from pigs, cattle, sheep and goats, among them a striking number of unbreakable long bones and shoulder blades from young cattle. Since the animals were slaughtered young, the animal husbandry was certainly used for meat production.

Numerous found objects made of metal (casting molds, metal slag, a stove shovel, a spoon bit, iron clips, nails) are evidence of manual work, activities in agriculture (sickle-shaped leaf knives, scythe rings, the fragment of a ploughshare, rotary mill made of sandstone) and activities in the house and in the kitchen (Parts of a grillage, a three-pronged fork, two iron hook wrenches, a fitting with a keyhole, spindle whorl, a fine bronze sewing needle). Whetstones and iron axes were found, knife blades, a razor, a nail cutter and components of the costume: clothes clips made of iron and bronze , belt fasteners and fragments of glass arm rings. In addition to the utensils, including those of high demand, a gold and a silver coin were found.

Viereckschanze fracture height

About three hundred meters north of the Schanze im Kupferschmied is the Schanze in Gewann Bruchhöhe in the Nordheimer Flur. Despite the short distance, the two systems had no direct line of sight, as they are separated by a ridge running from east to west. The course of the trenches shows a slightly trapezoidal system with sides between 84 and 114 meters on a small knoll in the sloping terrain. Another square hill (50 × 60 m) is attached to a section of the northern trench. Their trenches were narrower and only about five feet deep. In the longitudinal direction of the trenches of the two entrenchments lay charred boards up to 5 meters long, which can be interpreted as the remains of a wooden palisade that had fallen into the trench on fire. Gate buildings could not be detected in the double hill, and a passage between the two facilities was also not recognizable. Because of the strong soil erosion on large areas of the northern slope, traces of the interior development are only rudimentary: two building floor plans, two well shafts and a large, circular pit in the larger and two small house floor plans in the annex hill.

The elongated main building (33 × 10 m) stood in the north-west corner of the larger ski jump. The post pits of an older house (8 × 8 m) were found within the floor plan, thus proving that the system existed for a longer period of time.

On the floor of the round pit in the north-east corner of this hill, eight ribbon-shaped shield boss fittings and a shield shackle made of iron lay on a small heap, parts of the armament of Celtic warriors with cut and stab marks - a find so far unique in south German square entrenchments.

A well shaft in the southern part of the larger ski jump ended after 16 meters without having reached the groundwater level, and for no apparent reason it was apparently immediately backfilled with the excavation. In the top two meters of the backfill it contained ceramics and other municipal waste, in the lower part there were no finds. The second well shaft in the northeastern part of the ski jump was 23 meters deep and reached the groundwater level after 17 meters. In addition to ceramics, including fragments of amphorae , and other finds ( clay , animal bones, charcoal, a fibula and a hearth shovel) in the backfill, fragments of a millstone, a complete, disc-turned bottle, an almost completely preserved one, were found on the floor beneath plenty of fire rubble Cattle skulls and the skeletons of two young children. The 1.3 meter wide well shaft was boarded with oak boards. The dendrochronological examination of the wood revealed the felling date 160 +/- 10 BC. The examination of a charred piece of oak from the hill in the coppersmith had a felling date around 193 BC. Surrendered. There is evidence of a renovation of the main building for the facility in Bruchhöhe , and perhaps the two wells and the construction of the annex hill point to a multiphase process.

Two Celtic manors

The interpretation of a Celtic Viereckschanze as a place of worship , which was common until a few years ago , is corrected by the excavations of the two Viereckschanzen in Nordheim. The unusually large finds in Nordheim, typical of an agricultural settlement, the pit houses, the storage pits and the farm buildings suggest a return to the interpretation of the Viereckschanze as an estate. The facility in the coppersmith shows clear parallels to a Roman villa rustica and, in addition to its own use, apparently also produced cured meat for the market, probably for the Celtic oppida .

In the 2nd century BC The two manors, separated by the ridges, existed side by side for a long time. Both were probably destroyed at the same time, like numerous other ski jumps in southern Germany, by a fire disaster. The cause and time of this apparently national event are not yet known.

Individual evidence

  1. Martin Hees: On the trail of Celtic salt boilers. In: Christina Jacob and Helmut Spatz: Schliz - a Schliemann in the Unterland? 100 years of archeology in the Heilbronn area . Städtische Museen Heilbronn, Heilbronn 1999, ISBN 3-930811-81-2 ( Mueso . Nr. 14), pp. 168-173 u. Fig. 167.


  • Isabel Auer, Martin Hees, Elisabeth Stephan, Karlheinz Steppan: The Viereckschanzen of Nordheim. Two late Celtic manors in the Neckarland. Newsletter of the preservation of monuments in Baden-Württemberg, year 2018, issue 2, pp. 113-118 (PDF; 5.8 MB)
  • Andrea Neth: Investigations in a late Celtic quadrangular hill near Nordheim, Heilbronn district . In: Archaeological excavations in Baden-Württemberg . tape 1995 . Theiss, 1996, ISSN  0724-8954 , p. 141-147 .
  • A. Neth, K. Schatz: Excavations in a late Celtic square hill in Nordheim, Heilbronn district. In: Preservation of Monuments in Baden-Württemberg 2/1996, pp. 131–139.
  • Andrea Neth: At the end of the investigations in the Celtic Viereckschanze near Nordheim, Heilbronn district . In: Archaeological excavations in Baden-Württemberg . tape 1996 . Theiss, 1997, ISSN  0724-8954 , p. 79-85 .
  • Andrea Neth: At the beginning of the excavations in the second Viereckschanze in Nordheim, Heilbronn district . In: Archaeological excavations in Baden-Württemberg . tape 1998 . Theiss, 1999, ISSN  0724-8954 , p. 121-124 .
  • Andrea Neth: At the end of the excavations in the second Viereckschanze near Nordheim, Heilbronn district . In: Archaeological excavations in Baden-Württemberg . tape 2000 . Theiss, 2001, ISSN  0724-8954 , p. 80-84 .
  • Andrea Neth: Discovery of archaeological sites then and now. In: Christina Jacob and Helmut Spatz: Schliz - a Schliemann in the Unterland? 100 years of archeology in the Heilbronn area . Städtische Museen Heilbronn, Heilbronn 1999, ISBN 3-930811-81-2 ( Mueso . No. 14), pp. 180–191.
  • Andrea Neth: Viereckschanzen - manors of the Celtic nobles. Heimat- und Altertumsverein Heidenheim an der Brenz eV, special print from the 2001/2002 yearbook.

Coordinates: 49 ° 6 ′ 59.5 ″  N , 9 ° 8 ′ 20.4 ″  E