Gruesome find: skeleton in the prison of the castle tower

gruesome find: skeleton in the prison of the castle tower

It is the story of a prisoner who must have lain in the dungeon of the castle tower for half a century. This is what emerges from the minutes of a council meeting. At that time, the spanish war of succession (1701-1714) was in progress and the danger of a french or bavarian invasion was growing for herzogenaurach.

On 12. January 1704 a letter was sent from the general of forchheim to the amtmann of herzogenaurach, according to which single boys as well as the bulwark diggers should be sent to forchheim.

The city’s leaders kept an eye out for places where they could hide valuables or important documents from the enemy and bring them to safety. A safe hiding place was the castle tower because of its protected location with a mysterious underground dungeon.

According to the council minutes of 28. March 1704 the following is to be taken. Willibald bichel, the servant of the bailiff and the bailiff’s servant hans heinrich bernhard and his son jorg had lowered a gollicht into the lowest prison in the castle tower and discovered a sack with a skeleton in it. After their report the order was given to examine the gruesome find more closely.

With linen stockings

The find was brought up from the dungeon by the former goose herder hans thomas helfenberger and inspected in the presence of johann waffler, feldscher and bader at the lower bathstube, as an expert witness.

The findings showed that it must have been a man of quite coarse and the age of about 30 years. On the head was still reddish thick, long hair and a beard of the same color to recognize.

He was dressed in a goller (smock) of medium length, leather pants, unbleached white linen stockings and female shoes with red heels, wide at the front. The shoes were the best preserved among the clothes. There was also found a hat of medium height. From the remnants of the clothes, it was clear that the costume had been out of fashion for a long time.

Both fingers and toes were fully present. In the trouser bag were in a scabbard a rusty knife and a three-pronged fork. The examination by the feldscher waffler lieb did not reveal any cut or bullet wounds. The gooseherd, however, found the right knee several times bandaged with rags. When he had taken them off, he found two coins wrapped in paper at his knee. The two toes had been embossed under archduke ferdinand karl of austria, one in 1645, the other in 1648.

After that, the dead body, when it had lain in the castle courtyard for a good while and had been closely inspected by anyone who wanted to, was carried away and buried according to the contents of the most graciously issued order in no consecrated, but also in no dishonest place, namely in the churchyard next to the house of the churchman.

Forgotten by his

The unearthly find had been lying in the mysterious, dark vault of the castle tower for about 50 years, where presumably no human being had come for just as long. The unknown man was now forgotten by his own, who could never find the missing one again.

The old castle tower, the keep, whose foundations have now been uncovered by archaeologists, also disappeared without trace for a long time. It was taken down in 1720 and used for the extension of the castle building, namely the eastern wing.


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