Early times of the city

Castle and settlement above the bog

The beginnings of the city Braunschweig go back to at least the second half of the 9th century. In those days important trade routes ran along the Northern part of the Harz Mountains. They connected the old settlements in the West with Halberstadt and Magdeburg on the Eastern boarder of the former empire. The subsequent city Braunschweig developed along one of the few river crossings over the river Oker. All trade routes merged here.

The castle protects the river crossing

Probably as far back as the 10th century there was already a castle on the site that later on contained Dankwarderode Castle in order to protect and control the river crossing. This early Braunschweig castle was owned by the Brunones. The city was presumably named after them. The name Braunschweig was first mentioned as ‘Brunesguik’ in the consecration document of the Magni Church dating back to the year 1031.

First churches are being built

Seven years after the Magni Church, the St. Ulrich Church was built in 1038 on the Western side of the river Oker in the area around what is called Kohlmarkt today. There had probably been a building on that site beforehand. Another church constructed as part of the castle area later on became the collegiate church of Henry the Lion. The Jakob Chapel in its earliest form also dates back to the 11th century. The first settlements of craftsmen and traders developed around these churches.

The urban landscape in the early Middle Ages

Whereas the churches were already constructed out of stone we must imagine the living quarters from the same time as pit houses or wooden post constructions. The upright posts in a post construction were dug into the soil whereas in the later half-timbered constructions they were based on a plinth of sleepers. People lived and worked in these houses and the only source of heat was an open fireplace. Stone cellars for the storage of supplies can be accounted for as far back as the 11th century.

Explanations and hints

Picture credits

  • Zeichnung E. Arnhold
  • Rekonstruktionsversuch E. Arnhold