Station: [304] Breunsdorf in the 12th Century

In 1996 a whole village not far from Leipzig had to give way to brown coal mining. The only item remaining was a photograph with the title: „In Memory of the Parish of Breunsdorf,“ that belonged to an old lady who once lived there.  

But a lot more evidence from the village’s 800-year history was salvaged and documented before the diggers arrived. In terms of research, the demolition of Breunsdorf was synonymous with the recovery of buried treasure: sociologists, folklorists, botanists, historians and archaeologists searched for traces of life gone by above and below ground.

Here, we’ve put a selection of these finds and research results together for you. They go back to 1130 and tell the story of a typical street village: farmsteads stand very close to one another in a row and the common arable land is spread throughout the surrounding fields. At the beginning of the 13th century the people of Breunsdorf laid a road and built a stone church in the old cemetery. During the Late Middle Ages they surrounded their parish village with a ditch and small mound to protect it from wild animals and other undesired guests.

If you pull out the drawers in the showcase beginning at the top, you can use the photographic documentation to follow the archaeologists during their excavations. Step by step, they exposed finds dating back over 3 centuries. In the middle drawer you’ll also find photographs of the uncovering of the foundations of the village church.

The finds on display in the lower part of the showcase are evidence of material culture.

While street villages like Breunsdorf appeared more in flatter regions, villages with forest hides were found in hilly and mountainous landscapes. The German name for these „Waldhufendörfer,“ or forest- hide villages, was derived from the rising strips of land behind the farmsteads that were known as hides.