20 Schilling view of Semmering, © Niederösterreich-Werbung/ M. Liebert

The circular ditch enclosure in Kamegg

Historical sites


In addition to the medieval ruins in Kamegg, a number of prehistoric sites are known. A circular ditch enclosure from the Middle Neolithic period is considered to be the most important.

One of the largest circular ditch enclosures in Lower Austria was located on a south-east facing slope above the bend in the river Kamp near Kamegg. These circular enclosures, or roundels, date back to the early phase of the Middle Neolithic period (4750 to 4600 BC) and were built in large parts of Central Europe. The purpose of these enclosures remains unclear; it is likely that they had a ritual function, possibly serving as a meeting place for special ceremonies. The diameter, the number of ditches, and the number and alignment of the gates were not the same everywhere. Despite many attempts, it has not yet been possible to prove the theory that the gates may generally have been aligned with astronomical features.

The monumental structure on the Kamp
The circular ditch enclosure in Kamegg had two concentric ditches with internal palisades. The inner ditch was five to eight metres wide and had a diameter of 76 metres. The outer ditch had a diameter of 144 metres. Only a few isolated sections of ditch had been dug on the south side, however; the structure had evidently not been completed. This unique finding illustrates how these monumental structures were built a good 6,500 years ago.

Neolithic settlement
We do not know what made the people stop building and leave the circular ditch to fall into disrepair. The nearby Neolithic settlement significantly outlasted the circular ditch, however. Although archaeologists were unable to document any outlines of houses during the excavations, finds from the former storage pits provided a wealth of insights into life at the time. Botanical studies of the sediment revealed the remains of numerous agricultural crops, including lentil, strawberry, cornelian cherry and wild pear; a particularly notable find was the oldest evidence of millet in Europe.

Tip: the finds from the excavations in Kamegg can now be found in the Höbarth Museum in Horn.

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