Foundation stone discovered by Neuschwanstein

Modern forensic technology unlocks the mystery of the location of the foundation stone in the King's Castle

150 years ago, Ludwig II laid the foundation stone for Neuschwanstein Castle. © Rudy Balasko / istock
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Exciting discovery: 150 years ago the foundation stone was laid for the famous fairytale castle Neuschwanstein - now researchers have rediscovered this stone in the walls. The secret of the location of the foundation stone could only be revealed with the help of modern forensics. Only special equipment of the state criminal investigation office made it possible to locate the missing stone together with a metal capsule contained therein. The exact content of this capsule remains unknown for the time being.

Spectacular on a rugged rock high above the Pöllatschlucht perched one of the most famous castles in the world: Neuschwanstein. This year, the fairy-tale Königsbau celebrates a round anniversary: ​​150 years ago - on 5 September 1869 - builder Ludwig II laid the foundation stone for his dream of a knight's castle. According to the historical tradition, this first stone of the castle contains a metal capsule with a blueprint, portraits of the client as well as coins.

Search in the Ritterbad

But where exactly the foundation is located, remained a mystery for a long time. Historians could only make assumptions about his situation based on old documents. According to the stone and its capsule should have been placed in a wall of the so-called knight's bath in the western part of the palace. That is exactly where experts have actually found what they are looking for - they have discovered the exact location of the foundation stone of Neuschwanstein Castle.

The road to this sensational discovery was long: already two years ago, the head of the museum department of the Bavarian Palace Department, Uwe Schatz, initiated the search for the hidden stone. With the support of scientists around Rainer Drewello from the University of Bamberg, plans of the interior and exterior of the Knights' Bath were first created using a 3D scanner.

Behind one of the bricks around this Feierabendziegel in the Ritterbad lies the cornerstone of Neuschwanstein Castle. M nchner B ro for heritage conservation Schmickl & Umminger

Help from crime experts

The next step was to locate the foundation stone in the masonry. "For the exact location of the foundation stone, three different methods could be used, such as georadar, metal detection of the capsule by electromagnetics, or wall penetration, " says Drewello. The problem, however, is that the researchers did not have all the instruments they needed. For this reason, they got unusual help - at the State Criminal Police Office. display

The experts, who usually specialize in the demolition of blasting and fire equipment, arrived in early August with their modern equipment on the old fairytale castle. In a first step, they examined the wall of the Knights' Bath with the help of X-rays - a difficult task that was only possible with climbing teams.

Capsule with secrets

Then a metal detector and a mine detector were used, which finally brought the solution. "At the end of our search, a job behind one of the bricks in the vicinity of the so-called Feierabendziegels, which dates back to 1869, remained", "reports Drewello. The team located the capsule there at a depth of about 30 centimeters or a Bavarian foot.

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary, the secret of the location of the foundation stone is now solved - but crucial questions remain open. For the exact look of the contents of the foundation capsule remains unknown. "For reasons of monument preservation, the masonry remains closed and the capsule is untouched", explains Drewello. "We now hope that the portable fluoroscopy systems will be further developed and that it will eventually be possible for us, with improved equipment, to solve this mystery as well."

Source: Otto Friedrich University Bamberg

- Daniel Albat