Archaeological monument maintenance and conservation in the Administrative District of Holzminden
After the law of protection of historical monuments had come into effect in Lower Saxony on 1 November 1979, it is all administrative districts’ responsibility to fulfill the tasks of the lower department of protection of historical monuments within the bounds of the transferred sphere of activity (NDSchG § 19, Abs. 1 u.2).
As one of the first districts in Lower Saxony, the District of Holzminden decided to temporarily employ an archaeologist as a result of the law revision in 1982. In 1986 the position was permanently established.
Duties of a district’s archaeological department
- Fulfilling the tasks of a lower department of protection of historical monuments concerning the cultural archaeological monuments
- Cooperation with state-run departments of historical monuments
- Protection, securing and conservation of all cultural monuments
- Recording and documentation of the fixed and the movable archaeological monuments
- Advice for the monuments’ owners
- Archaeological excavations
- Proper refurbishing and warehousing of the archaeological finds
- Exploration of all archaeological epochs of the district
- Design and consulting of archaeological exhibitions
- Publications and lectures
- Development of cultural monuments in the context of tourism
Recording and documentation of the archaeological monuments in the district
Due to the increasing industrialization of country regions as well as due to the change of the cultivation of fields (e.g. deep plowing, synthetic fertilizing) and the modernization of forestry (e.g. the use of fully automatic harvest machines), the continuing existence of archaeological monuments is threatened. Therefore, it is the ongoing responsibility of a district’s archaeological department to record the stand of historical monuments by inspecting the arable farmland (spring/autumn) and the woods (summer). In order to do so, methods like aerial photos or airborne-laserscanning are used. Methods like geoelectrics, geomagnetics or drilling help the archaeologists to make statements about the condition of monuments that are situated underground. In 1982, there were only 88 known archaeological cultural monuments. By now there are 1700 of them. The steadily increasing inventorying of the archaeological sites and finds makes a proper appraisal possible before an excavation is started. The archaeological department is keen to protect and care for these cultural assets as well as to take measures to maintain monuments at open terrain.
As a rule, an archaeological excavation is the last measure of documentation, taking place when the monument is going to be destroyed in an inevitable, irretrievable way (rescue excavation). Above that, excavations are important to settle the question whether an object is regarded as a monument or not, or also if there is an interest in research.
Proper refurbishing and warehousing of the finds
The finds that have been collected over the years through excavations, inspections of the land and donations of private persons are cleaned and refurbished in a workshop at the Castle. Metal objects that are threatened by decline as well as glass and ceramic fragments that were found broken underground but can be put together to complete objects are sent to the restauration workshop of the department of monument maintenance of Lower Saxony or to private restauration companies. After the graphic and photographic documentation predominantly of the special pieces, the objects are permanently stored.
The finds are available for students, scientists and local historians in order to conduct their research. All pre- and early historical finds that were discovered in the District of Holzminden before 1996 are dealt with and publicized in a dissertation concerning the history of settlement in the upper Weser area. Some other objects have made their way into other dissertations or various academic publications. At regional level reports are given by magazines, the daily press and the yearbook of the District of Holzminden.
The archaeological department presented the results of their work in several own exhibitions. At many regional and national special exhibitions the archaeological department was partner in project, lent exhibits and contributed to the catalog. Having hosted great international archaeological exhibitions, Weserrenaissance Schloss Bevern got a wide public attention beyond the German borders, too.
Development of cultural monuments in the context of tourism
Apart from publications and exhibitions, the public is put in the picture about the acitivities of the archaeological department through lectures, guided tours, field trips and explaining signposts. For this purpose some monuments such as e.g. the glass manufactory in Holzen or the church on Heiligenberg near Heyen were restored. Projects of this kind are carried out in cooperation with the Youth Workshop (Kreisvolkshochschule).
The archaeological department keeps on participating in training qualified tourist guides.