December 4, 2023

Discovery of the remains of a mysterious church –

Impressive but forgotten building: Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a once-ruined church in the Westphalia countryside. According to the research results, the 30-meter-long stone building was built around 900 and had an unusual floor plan. Further research will now clarify what this remote church was all about and why it apparently disappeared again in the Middle Ages.

Traces found in the ground could easily have been a victim of a plow: In a farming area near Eruit-Ikeloh in the Soest region, a local resident noticed an unusual limestone. He then informed the Regional League of Westphalia-Lippe (LWL), which eventually sent an investigation team. Experts were surprised to discover that these were extensive remains of foundation. Apparently there was a bachelor in this remote place

A view of the excavation area in rural Westphalia. © LWL/L. Kramer

It was once a larger building. An archaeological project then developed from this initial mysterious discovery. As LWL reports, excavations carried out in the past two years have shown that where corn is grown today, there used to be a surprisingly impressive church in the early Middle Ages.

Until now there is no historical trace

The stone building was 30 meters long and about ten meters wide. Early medieval ceramic finds and results of additional discoveries dating from the 14th century AD have shown that the sacred building was built around 900 AD. It appears that there were already other buildings at the site: “We were able to prove that the church was rebuilt here after the demolition of a much older farmhouse,” reports excavation director Eva Sischi of LWL. “We also discovered construction pits for post buildings around the church and under the foundations, indicating settlement at this site since the Roman Empire,” says the archaeologist.

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One would think that there must surely be historical sources about the place especially the church building. But so far research has revealed surprisingly little: the first reports that could point to a settlement in the area only date back to the 11th century. But you didn’t mention any church. Maybe she had disappeared again by this time? It appears to have been completed, as evidenced by the remains of gypsum and traces of an extension in the south that was added shortly afterwards, which was discovered by the excavation team. Experts say that the church may have been demolished again in the 11th century. Why remains a mystery until now.

The floor plan is unique in Westphalia

As LWL reported, the discovery has another interesting aspect: new churches are usually built on top of their previous buildings. For this reason ancient floor plans are often largely destroyed or can only be seen in fragments during excavations. However, the current discovery shows something of early medieval origin. As it turned out, the floor plan of the church actually had a special structure.

The building consists of a hall about ten meters wide, connected to a rectangular choir on the east side. An additional room to the east of the choir, called the choir pinnacle building, is also unusual. Experts say that this room could have been planned as a chapel or burial place. “Such a floor plan is so far unique in Westphalia, but similar church buildings are known, for example from the collegiate churches of Bonn-Wiltsch and Niedermünster in Regensburg,” explains LWL archaeologist Michael Rhind.

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But what could this church be and why was it demolished? Experts now hope they can solve these mysteries through further investigation, LWL wrote in conclusion.

source: Westphalia-Lippe Regional Association