Kropfenstein cave castle could never have been built by amateurs. It is laid out on a tiny shelf in the cliff, raised by rubble and ragstone of Ilanzer Verrucano, the green, metamorphic conglomerate and gritstone of the region, and a most durable lime mortar (at least when it’s not subject to direct precipitation). Though the building stones are of small formats, it was quite a feat to bring them from the hillsides just beside out to the cliff – to a deadly place with rough scaffolding and nothing but air below. With the front wall finished, the “back wall” made up by the overhanging cliff itself, the interior space was separated in two or three storeys, with timber and stone, in rooms and chambers, probably a representative “hall”, and the most important place – the kitchen, as well as the obligatory hole in the wall, at the extreme west; the lavatory. At least the shit got orderly disposed of. And everything to be reached by a crude path cut in the cliff, a constant reminder of death.
Summer may have been quite pleasant, here at the north, sunny side of the valley. But with security imperative, openings for sun and light were scarce. So they lived in the “dark”. And winters may have been not-so-pleasant, for it would have been difficult to keep moisture away, difficult to heat up such a home (where was the fireplace?), difficult even to access the place at times of heavy snowfall.
Originally posted on Per Storemyr Archaeology & Conservation:
Switzerland is renowned for its castles and castle ruins, remnants of the feudal Middle Ages. A time when we may not have wanted to live! At least not as common people. But sometimes we may question whether life was much better for the nobility, for society’s elite. Take a look at the remains of Kropfenstein castle, pinned to a vertical cliff in Surselva (Grisons), difficult to access, away from the nearest village. Great place for a special holiday, you might think – but would you have liked to reside here, year in, year out?
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