Bras in the 15th Century? A Preliminary Report

Bras in the 15th Century? A Preliminary Report

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Bras in the 15th Century? A Preliminary Report

By Beatrix Nutz

The North European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles XI, eds. Johanna Banck-Burgess and Carla Nübold (Rahden, 2013)

Introduction: In the course of extensive reconstruction of Lengberg Castle (municipality Nikolsdorf, East Tyrol, Austria), starting in July 2008, archaeological investigations of several parts of the building were carried out under the direction of Harald Stadler (Institute of Archaeologies, University of Innsbruck). During this research a filled vault spandrel was detected in the south wing of the castle in room 2.07 on the 2nd floor. The backfill was taken out by workers of a local construction company and stored for subsequent sieving which took place in summer 2009. The fill consisted of dry material in different layers, including organic material such as twigs and straw, but also worked wood, leather – mainly shoes – and textiles. The building history, as well as investigations on construction techniques performed by Martin Mittermaier and Waiter Hauser, and the archaeological features strongly suggested a 15th-century date for the finds. At that time, another level was added to the castle by order of Virgil von Graben. The vault spandrel was most likely filled with waste during the addition of the 2nd storey as insulation or to level the floor. The dating has now been confirmed by five “C-determinations carried out at the ETH-Zurich.

The first documented record of Lengberg as “Lengenberch” is dated 15″ August 1190. It is the place of issue of a document confirming a donation by Count Heinrich von Lechsgemund to the monastery of Viktring in Carinthia, and Volcarth, Caloth and Otto de Lengenberch, ministeriales of the house of Lechsgemund, are named as witnesses. In 1207, Heinrich von Lechsgemund sold the castle to Archbishop Eberhard von Salzburg and from then on the castle was the property of the Archbishops of Salzburg who, in the course of time, assigned its administration to various noblemen. For the textile finds from Lengberg two administration periods are of interest.

From 1419 to 1452, Peter and Andre Mosheimer held the ministration (“Burghut” or “Pfiege”), and from 1480 to 1507 Virgil von Graben was burgrave in the name of the Archbishops of Salzburg. Virgil von Graben converted the old castle “Veste Lengenberch” into a new representative chateau by adding a second floor. The reconstruction is mentioned by Paolo Santonino in his itinerary, who also gives us a short description of the castle and mentions the consecration of the castle chapel by Pietro Carlo (1472-1513), Bishop of Caorle, on 13th October 1485. It can be assumed that the remodelling of the castle was already finished when the chapel was consecrated. Since 1956, the “Aufbauwerk der Jugend”, dedicated to the vocational education of people with special needs, has been housed in the castle.

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