Archaeologists explore German castle

When visitors come to Landsberg in eastern Germany, they can see the medieval Chapel of St. Crucis. However, the chapel was once part of a 12th-century castle, and archaeologists are now exploring this site.

As part of a research project, archaeological investigations by the State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt in cooperation with the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg are being carried out in the vicinity of the chapel on the site of the former medieval castle.


Landsberg Castle was built in the 12th century by Dietrich, a son of Margrave Konrad von Meißen. After the mid-14th century the castle fell into disrepair with no evidence of violent destruction. Only the twin chapel remained. The outstanding quality of this chapel in terms of its architecture and building ornaments suggests a comparable elaborate execution for the lost buildings of the castle.

Since mid-July 2023, the investigations have been devoted in particular to answer the question of the architectural setting of the chapel and of a possible predecessor of the castle. The excavations are designed as a field school – four students from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, supported by an excavation worker, will be trained in the methodology of archaeological excavations and documentation until the end of August.


Despite the relatively small excavation area, the findings confirm the former importance of the castle. Partly plastered walls decorated with incised joints are associated with the 12th-century complex of Margrave Dietrich von Landsberg. The leveling layers that covered the walls and contained rich finds from the 12th to 15th centuries testify to its destruction, which – contrary to what was previously assumed – must have largely taken place not in the early modern period, but as early as the Middle Ages.

The approximately 500 finds include cooking, drinking and storage vessels, coins and dice, which reflect everyday life in the castle. Fragments of stove tiles show that the castle had heated living quarters – a luxury reserved for wealthy and high-ranking personalities in the Middle Ages.

In addition to the traces of Dietrich von Landsberg’s Castle, finds from the 9th to 11th centuries were also uncovered. They make it probable that the main bailey of one of the most extensive late Carolingian to Ottonian fortifications in Saxony-Anhalt can be located here.

A kiln as a possible part of a brewing facility for the pilgrimage inn in the area of the twin chapel of St. Crucis in Landsberg. Photo by Donat Wehner / State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt

Also striking is a building with a drying oven from the 15th century, which could have served as a kiln. During this time, the site was visited as a place of pilgrimage. It can be assumed that – as also testified elsewhere – the stay was combined with a visit to the inn. The excavated drying oven may have been connected to an associated brewery.


The finds and findings that came to light during the ongoing investigations give an eloquent picture of the various facets of life in the castle that were not captured in the few written sources that have survived from this period. The good preservation of the findings also gives reason to expect that an extensive excavation would lead to significant insights into the building history of the entire complex.

Top Image: A corner of the former Landsberg Castle against the background of the chapel. Photo by Donat Wehner / State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt