Apr 6, 2020
In honor of the campaign’s name, here are two stories of sunken castles.
The Sunken Castle Burggraben near Immigrath
Next to the railroad between Immigrath and Opladen, about 20 minutes distant from the first village, lies the so-called Burggraben (“castle wall”), an old hillfort which used to be a knight’s castle according to the beliefs of the locals. As they claim, a violent robber knight used to live there who was the terror of the entire region, causing all neighboring landowners to fortify their homes with moats and walls. But today the castle has sunk beneath the ground, for the knight supposedly kept an innocent maiden in close confinement for a long time. For this iniquity the castle was sunk. But many treasures have gone into the depths with it, in particular a barrel with gold and a golden spinning wheel. The spinning wheel was once stolen by the robber knight of Burggraben from a princess, for only the daughters of high nobles spin on golden spinning wheels.
There have often been attempts to unearth these treasures on Saint Matthias’ Night, but all such efforts have been in vain so far. Once several men, who were even accompanied by a woman, dug for those treasures. Suddenly a great barrel rolled past them. This shock paralyzed the whole group. When they had recovered somewhat from this surprise, everything was gone. Another time the treasure hunters thought themselves close to their goal when a powerful storm arose which filled their souls with such dread that they fled in fright.
 This refers to the Motte Flachenhof, which is located just to the southwest from the spot where said railroad tracks and the Federal Motorway 542 cross.
 I.e. the night before Saint Matthias’ Day - the 24th of February.
Commentary: As usual, the castle was sunk because of some wrongdoing by its occupants. However, I find it interesting that the narrators assume that princesses spin on golden spinning wheels instead of having servants doing the spinning for them - apparently they thought that nobles lived lives similar to themselves but simply with more valuable tools instead of experiencing a radically different lifestyle.
The treasure narrative is familiar as well - the treasure is guarded by spirits who conjure illusions to distract the treasure hunters from reaching their goal.
The Accursed Castle of Gammelin
A long time ago the beautiful Castle of Gammelin stood on one of the hills of Diedrichshagen. The last heiress of the castle was a young, beautiful maiden named Sarah. She has now lived within one of the hills for many hundreds of years, and her castle is held by strong chains so that it cannot reach the surface. Her servants and other subjects have moved away over the ocean many years ago with the exception of a girl who remains loyally devoted to her. One beautiful day two ships came down from Rostock and anchored opposite those hills. The captains came ashore and looked around for a long time as if they were searching for something. Finally a small, old, and grey man walked out of the nearby forest and they queried him if he knew where the people were who wanted to be ferried over the ocean. “They are all on the ships already,” said the small one. “Come over here and look over my shoulder to your ships, and then you shall surely witness this,” he added as an invitation. And indeed, the decks of both ships were crowded with people. The skippers went back on board on the advice of the small man and set sail.
It hasn’t been too long ago since the maiden Sarah last has been heard from, and many know from their mothers or grandmothers how that maiden had made an agreement with the cowherd of Wittenbeck to herd their two cows “Rörick” and “Brünick” for a good wage and bread. On a particular morning Rörick and Brünick came roaring out of the forest and ran to his herd and walked among his cows. Around noon a young girl with a milk bucket in her hand walked out of the forest. She was quite pretty as well as well-dressed and wore a white apron. As soon as she called her cows by name, the cows hurried towards her. And after they had been milked, the cows went back to the herd and the girl vanished into the forest. The cowherd found his evening bread as well as a bottle of beer next to a particular stone every evening - according to other reports he received lunch instead - and on Saint John’s Day he also received his herding fee. This went on for several years until a new cowherd took charge with whom she didn’t renew the contract.
In later years two people asked and searched for the beautiful heiress of Castle Gammelin. The home of these people was very, very far away from here, and they had very old, unknown and (for people of this region) incomprehensible and undecipherable books with them. From their old writings these men determined that the castle was located between Wittenbeck and Brunnshaupten, and only the exact hill was unknown to them. They thus spent an entire summer in the hollows between the hills, listening and listening days and nights but did not find the spot, and they did not release the maiden Sarah either.
 Diedrichshagen is now part of the city of Rostock as well as a seaside resort. I passed through it during a bicycle trip in 2019, though sadly I was unaware of the legend at the time. Since the village was founded in 1771, it's likely that the village was named after the hills rather than vice versa.
 It’s not clear if only the hair of the small man was grey, or if the man himself was grey-skinned - the latter is far from uncommon in German folklore.
 Wittenbeck is a town about 18 km further to the west of Diedrichshagen.
 The German term used here was “Kruke” - referring to a ceramic bottle instead of one made of glass.
 Now part of Kühlungsborn, a coastal town about 5 km to the northwest of Wittenbeck.
Commentary: This story is even more fascinating for what it implies than what it states outright. Just why was the castle chained so that it would not rise to the surface? Was this a curse by an evil mage, or punishment for an old sin committed by the castle’s inhabitants?
The part with the anchoring ships has parallels in many other German folklore tales which feature ferrymen carrying invisible people - but who were the transported people in this case? Where they ghosts of some kind, or dwarves or other kinds of faeries? And just where did the captains transport their passengers?
The business with the cows has more parallels with the stories “The Red Cow of Warlin” and “The Cow from the Rock”. Finally, the two strangers seem like classical folkloric treasure hunters - while the story doesn’t mention any treasures, they are otherwise staples from both stories of “cursed maidens” that need to be “released” and “mysterious strangers” searching around German hills and mountains.