Posted by: Nazausgraben | August 18, 2010

THE GRAND ULRICHSKIRCHE RESTORATION PROJECT: PART IV


Day 35. They found the remains of a baby…a baby that has been dead for almost 600 years. It is a tiny thing, small, fragile bones, darkened with time under almost six centuries of earth. Only the top of its skull is still intact, as are a few bones of the rib cage, arms and legs.

The delicate remains of a newborne buried outside the walls of the Gothic-period (1414) Ulrichskapelle

The remains lie in silent repose about midway between the main entrance to the current Baroque period church and the high altar. Although a number of small single bone fragments have already been found during the excavation, this is the first fairly intact skeleton yet uncovered.

We can only speculate as to the story of this child. It is a very tiny creature, a newborn. We suspect that it had died shortly after birth and was brought to the Gothic period (1414) church shortly thereafter. As the child was never baptized, burial was forbidden within the hallowed grounds of the small village cemetery. Instead, the baby was buried directly next to the southwestern wall of the church, possibly cloaked in night’s hiding darkness.

It was thought in those faded mists of time that being buried directly next to the church and under the overhanging roof, that perhaps, during an Easter rain, some of the drops striking the walls and the roof of the holy edifice might find their way down upon the small inconspicuous mound of clay, thus sanctifying the remains; if you will, baptizing the infant lying there in eternal rest. Now, in the chilling gloom of this wet Summer’s early eve, the bones of this child are being bathed in the fading whisps of sun for the first time after so very very long. The archeologists will study this baby and try to learn more about its fate. For the moment, however, we stare silently into the pit and ponder a very brief life that graced Pinswang those many centuries ago.

Day 38.  One of the archeologists, Agnes, reports that a Roman coin was found a couple of days ago….buried very close to the main entrance of the church. Although the oldest of coins yet uncovered, it is not a surprising find to the archeologists; with the Via Claudia Roman Road passing directly by the Ulrichskirche, it is likely that soldiers or tradesman wandering the path might have lost a coin or two whilst resting atop this small hill.

More of the mysterious holes have been uncovered; there are more than originally thought.  There is some speculation that these were created to

More mysterious holes carved into the ancient bedrock.

provide solid ground anchor points for wooden cranes built  in support of the construction of the Gothic period chapel.  This hypothesis is not universally accepted, however, and other theories are put forward. I find it odd that one of the largest holes has been carved into the oddly striated bedrock. Some form of medieval architect’s measuring tool, perhaps? A Roman or Celtic ritual site? Again, all of this is purely conjecture; the answers will still have to wait abit longer until subject matter experts from Innsbruck arrive to provide a full assessment.

I wander about the site, remaining on the designated walkway. The bedrock and ancient exposed soil must not be trodden upon, as doing so might result in the obliteration of some cue or artifact for study. It’s abit like wandering through the site of a criminal investigation or a catastrophic mishap. Clumsy footing or an inadvertent touch might disturb invaluable, even perishable evidence.

I climb the dirt incline leading to the main doors and exit the church into the still grey evening. A strong gusty wind signals the arrival of another band of showers. They create a pitch undulating stage curtain, moving slowly over nearby Pflach toward the south. There are more such bands headed toward Pinswang. It is time to retire to the dry warm of our kitchen Kachelherde and a healthy bowl of Susi’s delicious Fritatten soup. On the way, I pause to admire some blooms adorning one of the many windows in the former Gasthaus Kofler.

The family Kofler has been in Pinswang for many generations. Their very large ancient home was at one time one of the three inns here in Pinswang (the others being the Gutshof zum Schluxen here in Unterpinswang and Gasthaus Sauling in Oberpinswang). Today, it remains in the family as a private residence.

I walk the thin street until the asphalt ends and then continue across the farmers fields. Karl sits within the cab if his small ancient tractor, quickly gathering the last remnants of a huge field of grass before the rains come in earnest. We wave a greeting as Karl and his 2-cylinder tractor disappear into the gloom of approaching night.

The lights will soon be on in our house. Susi and I will have our soup, speak of the day and then settle in for the evening…perhaps getting back to our books. I will think yet again of that baby, lying in the now cold medieval soil on that hill nearby.

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