Home » Underworld – Mining in the Harz Mountains until the 20th century
Harz Goslar Rammelsberg

Underworld – Mining in the Harz Mountains until the 20th century


“High the Harz and deep the ore; Any dawn raises the heart, Harz Mine,” greets the Harzer Bergmann. Enjoy hiking along the partly rugged rivers, in deep forests and past or directly to imperial towns and idyllic villages. With a little “luck (on)” you will meet one of these dwarves alias mountain monks. He is clothed with a cowl and the Gugel (hood), which is held together by the Cingulum (rope) at the hip. He carries iron and mallets as tools with him. He was a very welcome companion to the poor miners, because he led them to rich ores.

Harz Bergwerksmuseum - Bergwerk Harz
mine car in the mine

Therefore it is probably not surprising that the complex tunnel and gaitwork resembles the dwarf empire of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”. Montanarchaeologically it is proven that the mining here goes back thousands of years. And geologically these mountains are one of the most diverse low mountain ranges in Europe. Ores, water, forests and good soils were the basis for the development to one of the centers of the Holy Roman Empire. Discover the stone witnesses of this heyday, such as weary castles and Romanesque churches.

Pre-medieval mining – the Harz mine

Montan archaeologists were able to prove by excavations in the southern Harz foreland that metals had already been used around 1000 BC (in the Bronze Age). For the supply of Northern Europe with copper, silver and lead, mining in the Harz had an existential importance. Metallurgical investigations of archaeological finds prove this. Since the Stone Age the Lower Harz and its foothills have been continuously populated. Why was this inhospitable area always so attractive for the non-settled people? The geomorphological processes in the depths of the earth provide an obvious explanation. Ores were deposited here and these are then demonstrably found just as pure and elementary at the surface.

Harz Mining Museum
Mining in the Harz – Mine elevator in the mine

Attentive hikers do not miss the countless slag heaps. Ores were melted here. The slag flowed out of the furnace in the racing fires and the still contaminated iron from the ore was left behind. Slag is toxic and therefore the melting places from the Middle Ages can hardly be missed. Plants hardly settle and if Mother Nature does triumph, it is in the form of lichens (crustal lichen, shrub lichen, reindeer lichen). You can also see how resistant cloves, copper flowers, cress and heather have reclaimed the soil.

Mining in the Middle Ages

In these special biotopes and unique regions you can devote yourself to growing, becoming and becoming being. Escape everyday life and sensitize your senses to the stories of the “old man” (synonym for a disused shaft or shaft and/or mining in the Middle Ages).

Further links:
Hike on the Brocken | VIDEOS Harz | Heinrich Heines Brocken ascent | Ride on the Harzer Schmalspurbahn | Here you can experience mining in the Harz mountains up close:
Mining Museum Rammelsberg at Goslar and the Schaubergwerk Lauthentahl

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