Monday, 1 February 2021

An Investigative Walk

Every now and then, I look up the areas where I have been walking on online maps, just out of curiosity. It can be interesting to retrace my steps on a satellite view and discover where exactly I have been, how close to certain other places I've been, and wether my sense of direction corresponds with reality (it mostly does).

A few evenings ago, I was checking a road I had been walking earlier that week, and zooming out a bit, I spotted a strange structure in the fields nearby, where funnily enough I had never walked. 

It looked like this on my ipad, only without the green marker (I have not activated that on the pad):

I really couldn't work out what it was supposed to be, and when O.K. and I were thinking about where to walk this weekend, I suggested we go investigating this place.

I had a pretty good idea how to get there from where I had been walking last time, and sure enough, we soon arrived at the top of a gentle slope. Looking down, we could clearly see the strange structure:

It is a sundial, with the stones being about chest high for the average adult.

The whole place is called "Gr├╝nanlage Hungerberg". The word Gr├╝nanlage means that it is a public space, and Hungerberg (literally hunger mountain) is the name of the area of old. 

The sundial is not ancient, but supposed to remind visitors of the ancient history of this area; Celtic tribes settled here many centuries ago. Later, the Romans conquered this part of the world, and the Roman remains I have blogged about here are not far.

There is also a "geological window", allowing a good look at the layers of soil and rock.

Until 1981, the place was not open to the public, but a working quarry. The company operating the quarry still exists; their buildings are at the other end of the green space. There is also a series of small ponds, where toads and other amphibians live, as well as a wooden building where people can learn about nature, bee-keeping, the fragile ecosystem of our area and what is done to protect it.

Around the amphi-theatre like structure are benches and steps, inviting people to sit and have picnics or simply rest. Of course, on a chilly, wet day like this past Sunday, nobody was sitting there, but there were still quite a few people out walking. It still amazes me that I have never walked there before - it is just one path "off" my more familiar walking routes.

I am sure I will be back there on a sunnier day.


  1. Darling Meike,

    What amazing detective work!

    It is truly incredible what one can find via Google. Our garden in Herefordshire, long ago left by us and long ago demolished by subsequent owners, remains in outline at least on Google Maps! Every detail can be traced strange.

    It is good that in these times of isolation and lockdown you are surrounded by beautiful countryside in which to walk. For these blessings one can count oneself very fortunate indeed.

    Thank you for your kind comment. It is very much appreciated.

    1. Dear Jane and Lance,

      Your return to Blogland has pleased many a blogger - not just this one! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment today; I expect you are having a busy time catching up with "everyone".

      If walks had been forbidden during the many months of more or less strict anti-COVID regulations here, I would have found it really, really hard. But as I have always enjoyed walking, I simply increased the distances and frequency, and now can hardly imagine a day without.

  2. It's often surprising what you can discover locally. I think lots of people have found new discoveries during their lock down exercising. I see more people out walking during the day than I have ever seen before. I know I have found new routes and lanes that I've not been down before.

    1. I have always thought I know "my" area pretty well - after all, I was born in this town, and returned to it at the age of six. And yet I have somehow never made it to this part before.
      Also, when everything first started to close down last March, I began to walk even more than before, and every now and then came across streets I had no recollection of.

  3. An interesting find, Meike. The geological window is fascinating to me. Seeing all the various layers. A sunny day will reveal much more detail, I suspect. It is a small reminder to me of the very large Badlands in South Dakota. A mystical place I visited many years ago.
    I always seem drawn to places like this or the Twelve Bens in Connemara, Ireland and the the big 5 National Parks (e.g. Arches, Canyonland, Capitol Reef Bryce, & Zion) in Southern Utah My DH and I spent 10 days over our 25th anniversary exploring those parks (you and O.K. would love hiking them). Guess I'm drawn to their stark beauty and remoteness. Must be the introvert in me. :)

    1. The areas you have visited are infinitely more impressive than what we have here! But the advantage is that I can just walk right from my doorstep to reach such places, and I still can't believe I've never been there until yesterday afternoon!
      I like stark beauty and remoteness, too - as long as I am wearing the right clothes for the weather, and not too hungry or thirsty :-)

  4. Delightful. Your photo of the stone sundial took me there.
    Hungerberg is my new favourite word.
    I wonder who had the idea?
    Ian Hamilton Finlay worked with stone like this in Scotland.
    See YouTube: Ian Hamilton Finlay - Little Sparta. Tateshots.

    I liked your post Roman Remains, 2013.
    *To the god Mercurius, carer of the field* has a ring to it, and I so enjoyed the stone relief of the horse goddess Epona.

    1. That the area was named Hungerberg centuries ago is most likely an indication of very hard times for the folks who lived there back then. So far, I have not found out more about its history.

      The Romans had a way with words, didn't they! Our languages - actually, much of what makes our lives nowadays - would be so different without their influence.

    2. Hungerberg is a future post: Hard times, as you say.
      Hadrian's farewell to life is translated freely online, the formal version gets straight to the point. Read Marguerite Yourcenar's novel, Memoirs of Hadrian, which she wrote in the United States during the Second World War.

      Animula, vagula, blandula
      Hospes comesque corporis
      Quae nunc abibis in loca
      Pallidula, rigida, nudula,
      Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos.

      My soul, my pleasant soul and witty,
      The guest and consort of my body.
      Into what place now all alone
      Naked and sad wilt thou be gone?
      No mirth, no wit, as heretofore,
      Nor jests wilt thou afford me more.

  5. Where is the gnomon? (how wonderful for an opportunity to use that word again) In the aerial picture, the shadows lie outside the stones. Or, do you stand on the square slab and act as the gnomon yourself? I've bever been a gnomon.

    1. *Remembering ... that Eratosthenes of Cyrene, employing mathematical theories and geometrical methods, discovered from the course of the sun, the shadows cast by an equinoctial gnomon, and the inclination of the heaven, that circumference of the earth is two hundred and fifty-two thousand stadia, that is, thirty-one million five hundred thousand paces.*

      Vitruvius, first century Roman architect, civil and mlitary engineer.

    2. The person who stands on the slab in the centre is the gnomon. The slab has markings for how to position oneself according to body height. Of course, as you can see from my pictures, we couldn't try it ourselves in the kind of light we had that day.

  6. What a wonderful find! I love things like that. I also read your post on the Roman remains and enjoyed it. The many ancient remains in Europe and the UK are always amazing to me!

    1. We don't even have all that much here, at least not visibly. There is probably more hidden under our towns and cities; rivers were always popular spots for settlements, and we are not very far away from the Limes, as the Roman border to the wild, "Barbarian" parts of Germany was called.

  7. Great post Meike - it's always fun to find something new yet historic almost in one's backyard! We found a wonderful old decrepit house a few years back near us and were able to tour through it when it actually went up for sale. Now purchased and with much money poured into its restoration, a family has a special home but it still looks so historic outside which is lovely.

    1. I have a thing for abandoned houses and would love to go inside, but of course usually that is not possible.
      Here in my town, we have many beautiful buildings; I have often thought about doing a photo tour of the most attractive ones. But I hesitate as they are private residences, and the people who live there probably wouldn't be too happy about their houses being part of my blog.

  8. Isn't it wonderful to find something completely new in a familiar (or what you thought was a familiar) place? For most of the past year we were marvelling at how many "new" places we were finding on Hampstead Heath. We may know it much better now, but actually lately we have been seeing how the more familiar bits change as the seasons change! It's interesting you mention looking at satellites. Every time I do, I find something to be baffled by. On one occasion we did it "the other way around". We were walking in the countryside in Kent and suddenly realised that we had stumbled across an enormous crown!,0.9600417,594m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x47decf8c852b0f5d:0x4d306f8869bcfade!8m2!3d51.1812411!4d0.9622304

    1. That crown is quite something!
      Yes, it's great to find something new so unexpectedly. I much prefer looking at maps in satellite mode than in "map" mode; it gives me a better sense of a place. But I like maps in general, and love it when they are included in books, so that the reader can easily follow where a certain part of the story is set.

  9. And if you do go back on a sunny day you can sit on a bench and literally watch time pass.