Old Bowers: The castle’s great hall in miniature form

The castle’s great hall in miniature form

The type of stone building that was traditionally called ‘bower’ in Braunschweig could be found in numerous important cities in Northern Germany during the Middle Ages. A bower is a stone residential building that was heated by an open fireplace.

A concept prevails

Preserved buildings, archaeological findings and sources document stone buildings for the coastal region of the Baltic and North Sea, for Westphalia, Northern Hesse and the inland of Lower Saxony. Latest research also confirms their existence in Saxon and Thuringian cities. Despite there being regional differences, all stone constructions were part of a group of buildings with the living quarters designed in half-timbered style.

Peculiarities are established

These stone buildings showed particular characteristics in every city. This applied to the plots, the connection between the front and the main building as well as the shape of the building.

The most impressive examples have been preserved in Osnabrück. These bowers were situated in the back of the building plot behind the main building. Mostly their ridge lines run parallel to the road and lateral to the front building.

In Westphalian cities like Soest and Warburg and in North Hesse (Korbach) the stone constructions are often furnished with steeped gables. Numerous stone buildings have survived in the city of Goslar. Here, like in Braunschweig, they are called bowers. Unlike the ones in Braunschweig these are nearly always built directly on the roadside instead of in the courtyard.

In the coastal towns barely any stone structures survived. Around 1300 the building style changed area-wide to brick buildings. The existence of stone buildings in those areas can today only be proven by archive materials and archaeological findings.

Explanations and hints

Picture credits

  • E. Arnhold, Kartengrundlage: Sandor Kotyrba