Prehistoric Pile Dwellings
The Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps are the remains of prehistoric stilt houses at the edges of lakes and rivers. The site consists of 111 locations, spread out over 6 countries. They date from 5,000 to 500 BC, and represent the life of early agrarian communities in Europe.
Rising water levels since prehistory led to the abandonment of settlements which were then covered by lake and river sediments. About 30 different cultural groups were responsible for creating these pile dwellings.
Visit July 2011
The Pile Dwelling-nomination was headed by Switzerland, and the culture of the pile dwellers definitely is an important phase in the history of human occupation around its many lakes. Lake Neuchatel has 5 areas included in the WHS nomination where the remains of pile dwellings have been found. They are Saint-Aubin-Sauges (Port-Conty), Gorgier (Les Argilliez), Bevaix (L'Abbaye) and Auvernier (Les Graviers and partly in Colombier as well, La Saunerie).
While I was staying in Neuchatel, I looked into visiting one of them. But all are hidden below water or sand. To get a taste of it, I went to the LatÚnium museum. This is a grand archeological museum with both outdoor and indoor expositions. It shows some reconstructions of pile dwellings - they look like wooden houses on stilts that are still common in other parts of the world. The history of these people occupies only one room in the museum. Much of the exhibits are reconstructions too, like clothing. There's not enough "on show" to really get a feeling about what this WHS represents (and I will not count it as a visited site). It left me with a little surprise fact at the end though: the pile dwellers ate dogs!
|john booth (New Zealand):|
I knew that finding the locations of the WHS pile dwellings in a featureless wilderness like the Ljubljana Marsh would be difficult on my own. As anticipated there was no signed directions. I was fortunate to meet a local naturalist who knew the marshland well, and who took me to Ig to visit two sites.
I agree with Hubert that this site, like the German 'Limes' requires some imagination.
I also managed to find two locations in Italy, one by Lake Costa near Monselice, and another by Lake Frassino near Pescheria del Garda.
| Date posted: December 2012|
|Hubert Scharnagl (Austria):|
During a trip to the Dolomites, I took the opportunity to visit Molina di Ledro and Fiave. These sites are two of the rare places where original remains of the pile dwellings can be seen. In Molina di Ledro, at the shore of Lake Ledro, is a small museum and the reconstruction of a pile dwelling. From a footbridge you can see some piles in a small area near the shoreline. In Fiave, 35 km north of the Lake Ledro, is a small wetland with about 80-100 piles (photo). The site is one kilometre before Fiave on the left (coming from Lake Ledro). There is only a small signpost that can easily be overlooked. Both sites are located in a beautiful mountain landscape, but the remains themselves are not very impressive and do not tell much about what this WHS represents.
At least, I have seen my first pile dwellings and have an idea how the original remains look like. To learn more about it, one has to rely on museums and replications. In this respect, it reminds me of my experience with the Limes, the German part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire, where also only a few original remains are visible.
Certainly, the pile dwellings are the oddest WHS that I've visited so far. I will not count the WHS as visited and I'm uncertain when I can tick it off. But my first visit made me curious to learn more about it.
| Date posted: August 2011|
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