23 May 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

An unknown church with a special floor plan discovered in Erwitte, northwestern Germany

Archaeologists from the Westphalia-Lippe Regional Association (LWL) have discovered the remains of a former church from the 10th century near Erwitte-Eikeloh (Soest district). The 30-meter-long stone building has a floor plan that was previously unknown in Westphalia, northwestern Germany.

In 2021, a volunteer drew the LWL experts’ attention to a concentration of limestone fragments in a stream meadow east of Erwitte. In the same year, an inspection of the structure, which would have been threatened with destruction by the plow at some point, surprisingly revealed the foundations of a stone building. After further excavations in 2022 and 2023, it is clear: these are the last remains of a church with a floor plan that is unique in Westphalia.

The finding is particularly unexpected because written sources for a church are completely missing. The earliest reports that refer to a settlement around the Bachaue come from the 11th century. However, these only mention the hamlet of “Osthem”, but no church. “We were able to prove that the church was rebuilt here after a much older farmstead was demolished,” reports excavation manager Dr. Eva Cichy from the Olpe branch of LWL Archaeology. “We have excavations of post buildings around the church and below the foundations, which indicate settlement at this location since the Roman Empire,” Cichy continued.

During the excavation campaign in spring 2023, the foundations of an extension in the south of the church were surprisingly uncovered. Photo: LWL

“In order to classify and date the church building more closely, we rely not only on meaningful finds but also on scientific results,” explains the head of the Olpe branch, Prof. Dr. Michael Baales. Ceramic finds, the first 14C dating and comparisons with other floor plans currently indicate that the building dates back to around 900 AD.

An entirely unrecorded floor plan of this period is not unusual in Westphalia. New churches were usually built on top of their predecessors. For this reason, the older floor plans are often largely destroyed or can only be seen in parts during excavations. The floor plan in Eikeloh is much more complex and does not correspond to the usual pattern of hall and choir.

The newly discovered church consists of an 8.40-meter vast hall, to which a rectangular choir adjoins to the east. An additional room to the east of the choir, a so-called choir apex building, is unusual. This room could have been planned as a chapel or burial place. “Such a floor plan is so far unique in Westphalia, but comparable church buildings are known, for example from the collegiate churches in Bonn-Vilich and the Niedermünster in Regensburg,” reports LWL chief archaeologist Prof. Dr. Michael Rind.

Finally complete: the last section, the western end of the church, was uncovered in the last campaign this late summer and documented with photogrammetry photos. Plan: LWL/L. Cramer/E. Cichy

The church in Eikeloh was probably completed, as remains of plaster and a later additional extension in the south suggest. However, it was probably abandoned after a short time and planned to be demolished before the 12th century. Why is one of the mysteries that the archaeologists want to get to the bottom of as part of the evaluation of the excavation results over the next few years?

Westphalia-Lippe Regional Association (LWL)

Cover Photo: View over the excavation area to the south, towards Hellweg (B1 in approx. 200 m), on the right edge of the picture the Pöppelsche stream. Photo: LWL/L. Cramer

Related Articles

Do Byzantine coins Record the Supernova of 1054?

25 June 2022

25 June 2022

SN 1054 was one of the most spectacular astronomical events of all time. The supernova explosion eventually formed what is...

Horse cemetery in Westminster revealed as likely resting place for elite imported animals

25 March 2024

25 March 2024

Archaeological analysis of a medieval horse cemetery discovered in London nearly 30 years ago has revealed the international scale of...

8,000-year-old Musical Instrument found in northwest Turkey

4 July 2021

4 July 2021

Archaeologists in northwestern Turkey’s Bilecik on Tuesday discovered a musical instrument that dates back to an estimated 8,000 years. During...

Archaeologists Unearth Roman Archive of Ancient City of Doliche

20 November 2023

20 November 2023

Archaeologists from the Asia Minor Research Center at the University of Münster have uncovered the municipal archive in the ancient...

Archeologists discovered a treasure trove at the bottom of an ancient Roman bathhouse drain near Hadrian’s Wall

1 February 2023

1 February 2023

Archeologists in Carlisle, England, discovered a treasure trove at the bottom of the drain system of an ancient Roman bathhouse...

The place of Puduhepa’s hometown Lawazantiya will be illuminated with Tatarlı Höyük

9 November 2021

9 November 2021

Excavations at Tatarlı Höyük (mound) are trying to reach findings that will enable the determination of the location of Lawazantiya,...

Researchers excavating the burial site along Caleta Vítor Bay in northern Chile found an Inka Tunic or unku

15 February 2023

15 February 2023

A recently published study, co-authored by a research professor at George Washington University, looks at the Inka Empire’s (also known...

Researchers discover America’s oldest mine

23 May 2022

23 May 2022

Archaeological digs headed by Wyoming’s state archaeologist and including University of Wyoming experts have revealed that people began producing red...

1900 years old a rare mosaic was discovered in Durrës, Albania

6 November 2023

6 November 2023 1

In the port city of Durrës, on the Adriatic Sea in western Albania, a unique mosaic dating back 1900 years...

Archaeologists find sunken ancient Egyptian warship under Abu Qir Bay

26 July 2021

26 July 2021

According to a press release by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Egyptian French archaeological mission of the...

Archaeologists may have discovered lost settlement of Apancalecan in Mexico

3 August 2023

3 August 2023

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Guerrero discovered a prehistoric settlement spread across 29 hectares...

Multiple Burials found at Çatalhöyük

17 September 2021

17 September 2021

Multiple burials were unearthed during the ongoing excavations in the house on the eastern mound of the Neolithic settlement Çatalhöyük....

A basement discovered on the premises of the ruins of Hitoyoshi Castle in Japan could be a Jewish bathing facility!

7 December 2022

7 December 2022

Experts are still indecisive about why there was a bathing area in the basement which was discovered on the site...

Central Turkey’s largest Byzantine mosaic structure found

28 October 2021

28 October 2021

A 300-square-meter (3,330 square feet) ​floor mosaic belonging to the Late Roman-Early Byzantine period was discovered during excavation work in...

Jordan’s mysterious ancient wall “Khatt Shebib”

22 October 2022

22 October 2022

The accomplishments of ancient civilizations are typically woefully underappreciated because we stereotype them as primitives who only wore loincloths, and...