Around 800-year-old northern enclosure discovered at Naumburg Cathedral

Naumburg (dpa/sa) – The archaeological search for the northern enclosure on Naumburg Cathedral Square has been successfully completed. “There was a northern retreat, the remains of buildings and a three-meter-wide cloister were uncovered,” said excavation director and archaeologist Holger Rode from the Saxony-Anhalt State Office for Monument Preservation and Archeology of the German Press Agency.

The demarcated area for members of an order is referred to as a cloister (lat. closure). It serves the community as a place of retreat. Only a few outsiders, such as doctors or craftsmen, are allowed to enter this area temporarily.

Previously, it was assumed that a north and a south cloister existed at Naumburg Cathedral at times. “That has now been refuted without a doubt,” said Rode. “During the course of the new construction of today’s cathedral around 1208, the north enclosure was partially demolished and rebuilt on the south side of the new cathedral. So there was only one enclosure at a time.” A smaller cellar was found from the north cloister. “Probably not all parts of the cloister building were demolished after 1210, some parts were certainly still used,” said Rode.

In the former cloister, the archaeologists uncovered four stone box graves that were very close together. A grave is a head niche grave, which means that the shape of the stone was specially worked out for the head. “These people probably belonged to the elite of the church, but also the secular dignitaries,” said Rode. The graves in the cloister all date from before 1210. There were older stone box graves from around 1100. “Unfortunately only stone fragments have survived,” says the archaeologist.

The parts of the building were demolished in the 13th century and the square was then used as a cemetery, mainly in the 15th and 16th centuries. “80 graves were uncovered with the remains of women, men and children. There were seven children in one grave. They died in quick succession, probably from an epidemic,” said Rode. The excavation work was carried out in advance of the planned redesign of the cathedral square. The excavation campaign was overshadowed by vandalism. At the beginning of June, unknown persons had breached the fence and destroyed several skeletons in two open burial sites.

The Naumburg Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul is an important cultural monument from the European High Middle Ages. The twelve donor figures from the middle of the 13th century are famous, especially the donor figure Uta. She symbolizes the “most beautiful woman of the Middle Ages”. Naumburg Cathedral has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2018.

© dpa-infocom, dpa:220922-99-855101/2

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