Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System

The Upper Harz mining water management system, which lies south of the Rammelsberg mines and the town of Goslar, has been developed over a period of some 800 years to assist in the process of extracting ore for the production of non-ferrous metals. Its construction was first undertaken in the Middle Ages by Cistercian monks, and it was then developed on a vast scale from the end of the 16th century until the 19th century. It is made up of an extremely complex but perfectly coherent system of artificial ponds, small channels, tunnels and underground drains. It enabled the development of water power for use in mining and metallurgical processes. It is a major site for mining innovation in the western world.

The copper, lead and tin mines of Rammelsberg mountain, in the Harz region, were worked continuously from the 11th century until the 1980s. They bear outstanding testimony to mining installations and practices in Europe, both in terms of surface and underground remains, particularly from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period.

The remains of the Cistercian monastery of Walkenried and the mines of the Upper Harz bear testimony to the first attempts to systematically extract non-ferrous metal ores (including silver, lead, tin and copper) in Europe, and to develop water-management systems for this purpose.

Located close to the Rammelsberg mines, the town of Goslar played an important part in the Hanseatic League because of the richness of the Rammelsberg metal-ore veins. From the 10th to the 12th century it became one of the seats of the Holy Roman Empire. Its historic centre, which dates back to the Middle Ages, is perfectly preserved, and includes some 1,500 timber-framed houses from the 15th to 19th centuries. The Upper Harz water-management system, through its extensive surface area, including a large number of artificial ponds and ditches, together with drains and underground shafts, bears testimony to the importance of the management and use of water for mining purposes, from the Middle Ages until the end of the 20th century.

Criterion (i):  The historic mining network of the Mines of Rammelsberg, the Historic Town of Goslar and the Upper Harz Water-Management System constitutes one of the largest mining and metallurgical complexes for non-ferrous metals in Europe. Known to have existed since ancient times, it has been in continuous use since the Middle Ages, initially under the impetus of Cistercian monks, and in later periods under the control of regional princes and of the Holy Roman Empire, of which Goslar was one of the capitals. The ensemble is an outstanding example of human creative genius in the fields of mining techniques and industrial water-management.

Criterion (ii):  The historic mining network of the Mines Rammelsberg, the Historic Town of Goslar and the Upper Harz Water-Management System exhibits an important interchange of human values, in the field of mining and water management techniques, from the Middle Ages until the modern and contemporary periods in Europe. It was the inspiration for Agricola’s De re metallica, the authoritative work on metallurgy and mining in the Renaissance.

Criterion (iv):  The historic mining network of the Mines of Rammelsberg, the Historic Town of Goslar and the Upper Harz Water-Management System constitutes an outstanding and very comprehensive technological ensemble in the fields of mining techniques, non-ferrous metallurgy and the management of water for drainage and power. Its extent and its period of continuous operation are exceptional. It also provides a characteristic example of administrative and commercial organization in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period, through the remains of the monastery of Walkenried and the town planning of the Historic Town of Goslar.

The integrity of the water-management system is excellent in terms of its very comprehensive embodiment in the property, its functional dimension which is still in use, and the quality of the associated landscapes in the Upper Harz mountains. It bears testimony however primarily to alterations dating from the Renaissance until the contemporary era. In some specific cases, efforts to preserve ancient and traditional water-management elements are essential.

With regard to the industrial and technical elements of the Rammelsberg mine, the authenticity of the surviving elements is unquestionable. Inevitably alterations and reconstructions have taken place at Goslar over a period of almost ten centuries, but most of the current historic centre is fully authentic. The monastery of Walkenried contains both well conserved elements and ruins. Its authenticity is unquestionable.

In 1977 the Upper Harz Water Management System was classified as a technical monument by the State of Lower Saxony. The Monument Protection Act (Niedersächsischen Denkmalschutzgesetz) of 1978 protects all the architectural elements and industrial structures of the property proposed for the extension


Individually, each of the constituent parts of the property is satisfactorily managed, and is provided with adequate structures and competent staff. An architectural restoration and conservation programme has thus been carried out in the historic town of Goslar, and the development of an interpretation centre has been undertaken at Rammelsberg. The same applies to the extension of the property to include the Upper Harz, where each part of the property has individual management structures which are generally effective: the water-management system by the technical company Harzwasserwerke, the monastery by a foundation, and the various mining, museum and tourism sites by foundations, associations or bodies linked to the municipal authorities. There is however no overall management system for the serial property, no common scientific committee for the serial property, and no overarching authority bringing together all the stakeholders involved in the conservation and management of the serial property. These shortcomings must be rapidly corrected, and a general management plan must be drawn up, with an overall vision of the conservation of the property’s OUV and its future prospects, particularly in terms of the development of tourism.

Rammelsberg-Goslar is the largest and longest-lived mining and metallurgical complex in the central European metal-producing region whose role was paramount in the economy of Europe for many centuries. It is a very characteristic form of urban-industrial ensemble which has its most complete and best preserved expression in Europe at Rammelsberg-Goslar.

Rammelsberg lies 1 km south-east of Goslar, in the Harz Mountains. It has been the site of mining for metalliferous ores and metal production (silver, copper, lead, zinc and gold) since as early as the 3rd century BC. The first documentary mention of Rammelsberg is from the beginning of the 11th century. The rich deposits of silver ore there were one of the main reasons for siting an imperial residence at the foot of the Rammelsberg mountain by Emperor Henry II; he held his first Imperial Assembly there in 1009. The town of Goslar grew up around the imperial residence. The town was to play an important role in the economic operations of the Hanseatic League and achieved great prosperity, which reached a peak around 1450. The revenues from mining, metal production, and trade financed the creation of the late medieval townscape of fortifications, churches, public buildings, and richly decorated mine-owners' residences which distinguish the present-day town.

In 1552 Rammelsberg was taken from the town of Goslar by the Duchy of Brandenburg, which managed it until 1866, when the mining area was seized by the Kingdom of Prussia. Mining and metallurgical operations continued there until the last mine closed in 1988.

The remains of the mining industries include waste heaps from the 10th century and excavated remains of the installations that produced them: the St Johanniskirche (c . 970); ore-transportation tracks of the 12th century: the Rathstiefster tunnel or adit (c . 1150); mining structures of the 13th century: the Tiefer-Julius-Fortunatus tunnel (1585); the overseer's house (c . 1700); Communion Quarry (1768), the Roeder tunnel system, including two well-preserved underground water-wheels (1805): the old office building (1902); the haulage way and vertical shaft with technical equipment (1905); the Gelenbeeker tunnel (1927); the Winkler ventilation shaft (1936); the surface plant complex of 1935-42: and mineworkers' houses from 1878 to 1950.

The town of Goslar likewise preserves evidence of its growth and long identification with the mining industry, with remains from many periods. Among these are the Imperial Palace and the Palatine chapel of St Ulrich (c . 1100): the Frankenburger Church (1130); the antechurch of the former Stiftskapelle (1160), containing the 11th-century imperial throne; the market place fountain (c . 1200); the Frankenburg miners' settlement (c . 1500); many houses of mine-owners from the 14th-16th centuries; and the miners' infirmary (1537).

The town was not significantly damaged in the Second World War and so the historic centre has survived intact, with its original medieval layout and many Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings of high quality.

Rammelsberg in both the Upper Harz, the metal surface veins are known and exploited since the Bronze Age. They are again in the early Middle Ages, making the wealth of princes who control them.

The metallurgical history of the Harz reborn with the construction of the Abbey of Walkenried undertaken in 1127 by Cistercian monks from France. The Cistercian order was known for his early interest in mining and its role in the development of metallurgy in medieval Europe. The use of water wheels to enhance the production of ore reduction furnaces appear introduced in the early thirteenth century by the monks in the Harz. Of the remaining vestiges of this period water appears all four ponds Pandelbach Valley, west of the property. A medieval underground hydraulic element is mentioned, the drain of Aghetucht, which dates back to the twelfth century. The pond Banedik in Clausthal, is also listed as dating from the late thirteenth century. The drainage gallery and the use of water wheels for mine seem to have been introduced by the monks at that time.

The climax of the monastery is located at the end of the thirteenth century. Then it is inhabited by 80 monks and 180 lay brothers. They control and lead mining in the region, until the crisis of the medieval world in the mid-fourteenth century. It paralyzed sustainable mining in the Harz, causing an irreversible decline of the Cistercian presence.

Initiated by the need to metallic silver, the revival of the Harz mining occurs in the early sixteenth century. It results in the opening of new mines and hydraulic equipment gradual, as Grube Samson from 1521, in Clausthal in 1554 and so on. For this purpose, while operating privileges are granted by the various sovereign princes of the region to the inhabitants of the mountain children (Bergfreiheiten). They are confirmed in the seventeenth century by their successors. Regional mining development takes a big way. The hydraulic system and the digging of deep wells are systematically developed. For example, between 1524 and 1561, seventeen galleries drainage are undertaken.

The Harz is the reference region in Europe for the exploitation of non-ferrous metals. It is one of the major bases for the development and control of the European market for copper, including the merchant dynasty and financial Fugger. It provides many examples and inspiration for Agricola's De re metallica sum, the standard work on the metallurgical and mining knowledge from the Renaissance (1556).

Many improvements are periodically made to the entire mining and its hydraulic system. For example, in the seventeenth century, acquired control allows the abandonment of the use of horses for the energy needs of the mine. Technical innovation can improve empirical metallurgical processes and to exploit new ore, participating in a significant increase in production.

Social and administrative rules in place, including the princes of the family von Braunschweig, Herzog and Herzog Heinrich Julius, brought stability to farmers and miners they have long-term investment needed to build, sometimes very laborious, and the hydraulic mining of the Upper Harz. For example, the main drain of the plateau of Clausthal, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, to the valley of the Innerste, required 120 years of work. The investment makes use of financial shares (Kuxen) of a very modern type, as acquired by the aristocracy, the great traders, and by the example of cities in the Hanseatic League.

Regional mining development reached its apogee in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, when the extension of the hydraulic system and deepening of wells continue methodically. The main innovations are the engine water G. Winterschmidt (1750) and the large underground drainage system Tiefer Stollen-Georg. Realized in the second half of the eighteenth century by the office of administrative coordination of mines (Berghauptmann), then it is the world's largest (18.5 km).

In the nineteenth century, the High Harz is in full swing and it remains one of the main sources of mining expertise in Europe, then appear the major technical innovations of the Industrial Revolution in England. The excellence gained in the field of hydraulics and specificity of very deep veins of the Harz do not immediately necessary to adopt foreign technology. The steam does not play such a late and long secondary role, because the hydraulic compressor it is considered preferable.

Several important innovations accompany this period: a vertical scroll bar, stepped and moved by water power to reach depths of 5-700 m (GLW Dorel, 1833); development of the cable wire through the principle of the strands (WAJ Albert, 1834), an early version of the cartridge of explosive (F. Schell, 1866).

Again a huge underground drain system, 400 m below Clausthal, is planned in the late 1840s, to support the further mining. The Ernst-August-Stollen was completed in 1864 (32.7 km).

New wells are put into operation in mid-nineteenth century, others are being renovated as Knesebeck in use until 1974. Wells Ottiliae and Kaiser Wilhelm II are equipped with the first horse steel built in Germany in the 1880s. The first major German industrial hydraulic compressors are developed in the Harz, in the 1900s.

However, from this period and while the need for non-ferrous metals increased tenfold in the markets, the mining deposits in the Harz, already widely used, competing with the products emerging from other continents. Emblematic of the mine Grube Samson farm in 1910. Of Clausthal mines closed in number with the crisis of the 1930s. A conversion of the hydraulic system of the Harz to the production of electricity is undertaken by the equipment in wells Turbine Ottiliae and Kaiser Wilhelm II.

A major change in the water management system operates and its objectives in parallel with the cessation of activities in the last mines in the years 1960-1970, the final stop in 1992 (Hilfe Gottes). Electrical equipment continued, especially outside the historic mining area, but the Upper Harz best be seen as a major reserve of drinking water quality in the heart of Germany. Landscapes involving ponds and artificial lakes are recognized as valuable, and it becomes a popular tourist destination. The state of Lower Saxony gradually acquires the property of the hydraulic system between 1972 and 1981, and a system of governance is in place. Protection against flooding is also an important objective for the management of this hydraulic system.

Additional documentation of November 19, 2009 shows the results of historical research and rchéologiques recent mining show the role played by the Cistercian order in all of the Harz region, and its size pioneer in Europe. These studies also show links between different sites in the Harz mining them in their international influence to modern and contemporary.


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