Tag: Roman Bridge

Global Warming – what else

I switched the world on at 19:45 – no pun intended, pure contingency. It glows now for three hours and is still pretty cool, except for the top spot, as may be expected. When you look at it, Siberia is on top and actually the hottest place. But it’s far from hot, just warm to the touch. You can’t see it, but my world is a bit shattered, repaired & re-glued, but I assume that is a common experience, to have it shattered once or twice through lifetime.

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Die Welt

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I think such a globe could be found in any Western boy’s room through the late Sixties / early Seventies. And now that it’s de-dusted & cleaned I can switch it on again without having to fear burning dust. The colours are similar to those on the maps in the Atlas I got in school, and was allowed to keep when it was due to be given back, because it was falling apart. Now and then I turn my world a bit around, so that any part of it has a chance to become warm and cool off again.
I did not crawl into the cellar trying to locate family papers today, it was much too cold and böh. Instead I attempted to write something about the fountains of the village, but found it hard to get into the flow – lack of a dead-line perhaps … I do not remember whether I mentioned it here, it’s a group of volunteer historians, who produce small audio-pieces about historical points of interest, the Roman bridge (here) was my first contribution. At one point these soundbits will be accessible via wwweb, in connection with a presentation of the village and its neighbours on occasion of a local Gartenschau, still some years away ; but it needs a lot of preparation, because large areas that were former used by the USArmy are part of the whole package, and these areas are bordering the village. The university has a hand into the mud too.
But of course we want to look good, don’t we all ? Therefore Mago pieces together the history of the Fontane di Villaggio, and tries to fit the lack of history into an amusing three-minute-feature. I have to put on my thinking cap – there is always the village historian, a force to be reckoned with, as my old friend Duke Nukem (logo) once put it.
I turned the world a bit farther, Siberia was becoming notably warmer, not bad after four hours ; now it’s Alaska’s turn.

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The Roman Bridge

Photos finally added, sorry for the tardiness.

Die Römerbrücke – die natürlich keine ist. It is not a “Roman” bridge, simply because the Romans did not come to this area, at least they did not build something here. The very end of the Roman Empire, the limes Germanicus (Ger., Eng., there’s a map), consisted of the river Moenus from Seligenstadt to Miltenberg, then left the river and went South over land. Some scholars of the 19th century nursed the idea that the fortress here would be based on a Roman military installation, but there is no proof for this claim and modern archaeology dismisses this idea.

Roughly one kilometer from the centre of my village in North-Eastern direction the Römerbrücke stands. Here once run a trading road from Würzburg to Bamberg ; it was a part of the larger connection between the free, important & rich cities of the Reich Frankfurt am Main and Nürnberg, on a larger scale of the route from Paris to Prague. The road came up from the valley of the river Main & the city of  Würzburg and crossed the valley of a small creek called Haslach ; it climbed up from the muddy valley via the Roßsteige (horses’ steep) and then went over land to the Steigerwald, generally in Eastern direction.
This gradient was pretty steep, additional horses needed to be harnessed to the coaches, it must have been a drag.
The 18th century brought us new roads, standardised in a way, the new chaussee. The Herzog happily embraced this idea and built new roads in his dukedom : Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim (1708-1779) (Ger., Eng.) commissioned the bridge in 1764. In fact it is not a single bridge that was built, but a 220 meter long earthen dam (causeway ?) that includes a bridge construction spanning the Haslach and thus “flattens” the gradient of the commercially important trading route. It simply makes the whole thing more viable. The dam is up to eight meters high, the bridge itself nearly 19 meters broad, the road is four to five meters wide.
The German description is “einfeldrige Bruchsteinbogenbrücke” – sorry, I can not translate this.
The importance of these new chaussees, in German Kunststrassen, artificial roads, can not be rated highly enough. In fact it is the first time since the Romans that a kind of standardised road system is built on a European scale. These roads allow fast and reliable traffic for goods, persons, mail, and of course for the movement of troops. They demand and cause standardisation, because the “Chauseeordnung” describes what format and what weight cars and coaches can have that finally travel on them. These roads demand a lot of investment, not only in building and construction as in our bridge here, but also in maintainance – in regular distances Chaussehäuser were erected where the Chaussewärter, the keeper, was stationed. He had to take care of a certain stretch of the road, and sometimes had to collect the road-tax too.
The bridge, the whole construction, was finished after three years and was open for traffic in 1766. It was used only for three years : In 1769 the building was closed for traffic because the foundations settled in the muddy subfloor, the Haslach simply did not like that thing. Cracks opened & it was deemed to dangerous to have heavy coaches rolling over it.
The planning went on and in the following year the whole road was relocated & shifted from this place to the North (on the other bank of the Haslach-creek), it finally run through the next village – avoiding the steep gradient & the marshy area altogether. The bridge was not repaired, but in contrary used as stone quarry to build the new road. It became finally obsolete for long distant travel when in the middle of the 19th century the railway was built – to this day the line goes in some hundred meters distance. The coaches had finally served its times.
The bridge was of course still used locally, only in 1960 it was closed for pedestrians. There was a bit of argument over the decades between the local community and the Bavarian state. The village was always poor & in debts and did not want to carry the Baulast, the public easement (and the responsibility) for the disused construction. Finally the whole ensemble was put on the Denkmalliste, the list of landmarks, and today the community has to take care for maintainance & safety.
And why is it called a “Roman” bridge ? Two explanations are given in literature : One says it’s because the road finally leads up to the Römer (Ger., Eng.) in Frankfurt – ah bah, who cares for Frankfurt here anyway ? The other says that the whole thing looks so nice and romantic-ruinous in the moonlight, ach – so Roman, simply … ; …

Some pictures will follow tomorrow.

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It’s the day after tomorrow – I think übermorgen is a wonderful word. So I am writing from the future …
Here are some pictures of the featured building. The first gives an impression of the whole thing. We stand on the Southern side of the dam and look in Eastern direction.

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Standing on the Southern side of the dam looking in Eastern direction
Standing on the Southern side of the dam looking in Eastern direction

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Turning around and going in Western direction there is finally a possibility to walk on the dam if only for a short stretch. Then they have planted a lot of dense & thorny bushes, small trees and high grass hinder the careless trespasser.

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Standing on the dam looking in Easter direction. This is a second, smaller arch that is closed for any kind of traffic
Standing on the dam looking in Easter direction. This is a second, smaller arch that is closed for any kind of traffic

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Looking from the Northern side in Easter direction. The whole construction was cut free from woods and brushes lately ; I have read in the local that some preservation measures are necessary.

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Standing on the North side looking East
Standing on the North side looking East

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And finally we are under the bridge.

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Under the bridge. No Stonemason's mark, no coat of arms, no graffiti, no nothing - just stones. Very nice.
Under the bridge. No Stonemason’s mark, no coat of arms, no graffiti, no nothing – just stones. Very nice.

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And one last view : This friendly little apple tree is a gift from the French twin village in the Calvados. It’s still a long way until we’ll have Franconian Calva.

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Roman bridge and the promise of Franconian Calvados
Roman bridge and the promise of Franconian Calvados

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Daht’s all.