The Celtic castle in Schwarzenbach

Historical sites


The hilltop settlement on the castle hill near Schwarzenbach is one of the best-preserved rampart fortifications of its kind and was an important centre of trade in the La Tène period.

In the last century BC, the rulers of the Celtic ‘castle’ near Schwarzenbach controlled the raw materials and transport routes in the region. The inhabited high plateau at 546 m above sea level covers an area of 12.7 ha; the castle thus ranked among the medium-sized complexes of the La Tène period (450 BC until the time around the birth of Christ).

A mighty rampart

The fortification consisted of a rampart-and-ditch system on the flat north side of the castle hill; there are steep slopes on the other sides. The rampart has a remaining height of up to 7 m. It was built over time from a variety of construction elements – wooden box construction, a wall with gaps for supporting posts, a stone wall and layers of rubble – and was frequently repaired. Access was through a ‘pincer gate’. During the excavations, evidence was found of buildings with sill beam and post construction, some of which were built into the hillside. A number of these were reconstructed on site for the open-air museum, as was a section of the rampart with its tower.

A centre of trade and craftsmanship

The rich iron deposits in the nearby Oberpullendorf Bay were one of the economic foundations for the settlement in Schwarzenbach. Furthermore, it almost certainly benefited from the Pauliberg, only around 6 km away, with its basalt rock which was used to make millstones. The hilltop settlement also controlled the transport route from central Burgenland to Steinfeld. Finds of Mediterranean imports (e.g. bronze tableware and coins) suggest that it was a trade hub. The settlement may also have had its own coinage. A forge with numerous tools (such as a chisel, file and punches) indicates intensive craft production – iron blooms were probably forged, processed and traded. For now, it remains unclear whether the inhabitants were engaged in agriculture themselves or whether they were supplied by the surrounding area. One interesting find is a hoard of broken jewellery; it appears that ritual offerings were made here by a number of people.

Tip: the castle hill is home to Schwarzenbach Archaeological Open-Air Museum, where the reconstructed buildings give an insight into the everyday life of the Celts.

Location and how to get there

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    Die keltische Burg von Schwarzenbach

    2802 Schwarzenbach

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