Neideck Castle is a former high medieval nobleman's castle above the village of Streitberg, in the municipality of Wiesenttal. As a result of its exposed location above the valley of the Wiesent, it has become a symbol of Franconian Switzerland. The ruins are freely accessible; the tower house is used as a viewing point. The ruins may be reached on various hiking trails from the valley or from the villages on the plateau.
The castle was first mentioned in 1312 as the property of the edelfrei family of Schlüsselberg. A Henry of Neideck, however, was recorded as early as 1219 in a documentary source. The castle was therefore probably built in the 12th century, possibly as early as 1150–60. At that time there was probably only a small wooden outer bailey in front of the main castle on the distinctive shoulder of rock above the Wiesent valley.
From 1312 it was owned by Conrad II of Schlüsselberg, the most important and the last representative of his family line. He expanded the Neideck into a fortress. With an area of 140 × 200 metres, it was one of the largest German castles. The shield wall, outer and inner moats, two artillery towers, main ditch and bridge, the tower house and adjoining building elements of the main castle are still visible. When Conrad of Schlüsselberg got into a feud in 1347 over the imposition of a toll with the bishops of Würzburg and Bamberg and the Burgrave of Nuremberg, they attacked and defeated him. Conrad, himself, was killed on 14 September 1347 by a stone fired from a trebuchet and the castle was subsequently destroyed. After the siege, Neideck became the seat of an office (Amt) of the bishops of Bamberg.
After the castle had survived the Peasant's War in 1525, it was captured and set on fire in 1553 in Second Margrave War by mercenaries of Margrave Albert Alcibiades of Brandenburg-Kulmbach. Since then it has been a ruin.
Until the early 19th century, the fortress was used by the residents of the valley as a quarry. Its decline was further accelerated in the period 1737-1743 when rock on which the castle stands was quarried for marble.
The large castle complex consists of three separate areas, separated by deep neck ditches. Even the outer bailey was protected by a moat approximately 100 metres long, 22 metres wide and about 7 metres deep. The towering shield wall behind it was built around 1300. Of its other buildings only small traces of the foundations remain.
The middle bailey was reinforced in the early 16th century by two artillery roundels that have partly survived. The 'cross key' embrasures (Kreuzschlüsselscharten) of the eastern tower were designed for arquebuses and crossbows. The rectangular slits of the western roundel were probably added around 1531–32. This bastion flanked the approach road. The curtain walls between the roundels and the gate of the middle bailey have been almost completely lost.
The inner bailey is located on a projecting spur of rock that points northeast. The mighty tower house rises three stories above its foundations. It was built from 1347 after the destruction of the castle on those older foundations and walls that were still usable. The former vault of the ground floor probably dates to the early 13th century. Above the surviving three storeys there was originally a fourth stone upper storey, possibly even a timber-framed house. The obligatory elevated entrance on the first floor has survived; the ground floor access was only created in modern times. Since 2008, a staircase has enabled visitors to ascend to the 10 metre-high wall crown.
The remaining elements of the inner bailey date largely to the period around 1480, when the fortress was expanded and reinforced after a siege. Still recognisable are the barrel vaulted cellar of a building and the shaft of a filter cistern. The historical entrance consisted of a late mediaeval gatehouse and a stone bridge over the deep neck ditch. In front of the gatehouse lay a short drawbridge.References:
La Hougue Bie is a Neolithic ritual site which was in use around 3500 BC. Hougue is a Jèrriais/Norman language word meaning a \'mound\' and comes from the Old Norse word haugr. The site consists of 18.6m long passage chamber covered by a 12.2m high mound. The site was first excavated in 1925 by the Société Jersiaise. Fragments of twenty vase supports were found along with the scattered remains of at least eight individuals. Gravegoods, mostly pottery, were also present. At some time in the past, the site had evidently been entered and ransacked.
In Western Europe, it is one of the largest and best preserved passage graves and the most impressive and best preserved monument of Armorican Passage Grave group. Although they are termed \'passage graves\', they were ceremonial sites, whose function was more similar to churches or cathedrals, where burials were incidental.