Welcome to the homepage of the Celtic Experience Trail. The 6 km long path includes nine information stations and leads you through the late Celtic oppdium Heidengraben with the help of a free multimedia app. Experience the fascination of a breathtaking cultural landscape and immerse yourself in the world of the Celts 2000 years ago.
If you are planning a visit, please download the app to your mobilephone or tablet before you visit the site.
The stations of the Celtic Experience Trail and the corresponding app offer numerous possibilities. By means of modern media technology, the path leads through more than 3000 years of human history and allows fascinating insights into times long past. Digital 360-degree reconstructions, aerial photographs, exciting audio plays and video animations, together with virtual 3D representations, bring the past of the Heidengraben back to life.
The multimedia app for the Celtic Experience Trail is available as free download in German and English from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. In order to use the app’s content and media it must be activated on site (!) at the starting point of the Celtic Experience Trail, the information pavilion at the “Burrenhof”. Only then the app is functional and usable.
The individual stations are wheelchair accessible and barrier-free. Visitors with impaired vision are provided with tactile models at several stations. Short texts in Braille are also available at all stations. As an additional service the three communities of the Heidengraben region offer guided tours for disabled on request.
For guests without a mobile device there also is a printed guide available (Download Flyer).
The Heidengraben With an overall size of nearly 18 square kilometers, the Heidengraben is the largest Celtic settlement on the European continent. The Celtic city (lat. oppidum) was built around 130 BC.
Early Celtic burial ground During the early Celtic period (800–450 BC) approximately 40 burial mounds were erected in the area of the Burrenhof. Inside of these tumuli cremation and inhumation graves with pottery, jewellery and weapons were found.
Water on the Swabian Alb Water is vital for human beings and animals. The natural scarcity of water on the Swabian Alb was handled already in prehistoric times by using so called “Hülen” and probably also artificial wells.
Agriculture and animal husbandry Agriculture was already highly developed during the late Celtic period, around 100 BC. Grain, legumes and livestock kept in stables secured the survival of the inhabitants of the Heidengraben.
Settlement and farmstead During the late Celtic period (130–90 BC), people lived in open settlements, fortified cities (like the Heidengraben), small farmsteads and manor-like estates where the landowning aristocrats resided.
Entrance to town The center of the Heidengraben was the „Elsachstadt” which was separately fortified by a wall and a double ditch system. The “Elsachstadt” had four gates and was more densely build up than the rest of the oppidum
Trade and Crafts The „Elsachstadt“ was the economic and the craft center of the “Heidengraben”. Here lived the majority of people surrounded by workshops, marketplaces, dwellings and pens for livestock.
The way to the East The route to the East led through gate B of the „Elsachstadt“ onto the Swabian Alb and further to the Danube. From there travelers and traders with their goods could move to the Black Sea and back again.
Walls and Gates The outer fortifications of the Heidengraben consisted of post-slot walls with a protective ditch in front. Three monumental gates near Grabenstetten, Erkenbrechtsweiler and south of the “Burrenhof” secured the access.
Barrier-free access The “Seelenau” parking lot offers barrier-free access to the contents of stations 4, 5 and 7, as well as a low-barrier route to station 6.
By car Visitors of the Celtic Experience Trail should use the parking lot “Hochholz / Astropfad”. Possible travel routes by car: from the Autobahn A8, via Erkenbrechtsweiler (K 1262); from Reutlingen or Metzingen via Bad Urach and Hülben (L 250); from Ulm via Grabenstetten (K 6759) or from Neuffen in the direction of Grabenstetten (L1250).
Parking lot: “Hochholz / Astropfad” (approach)
From here, a short, signposted footpath leads on to the starting point of the Celtic Experience Trail.
By bus There are daily bus connections from Bad Urach, Owen (Teck) and Neuffen to Hülben, Grabenstetten and Erkenbrechtsweiler. On Sundays and holidays, between March 29 and November 1, the “Blaue Mauer” bicycle and hiking bus (line 191) runs from Owen (Teck) and Neuffen directly to the “Hochholz / Astropfad” parking lot. Bicycle transport is free of charge. Buses are equipped for wheelchair transport.
By train There are daily train connections from Stuttgart or Ulm via Plochingen to Neuffen and Owen (Teck) and from Tübingen to Bad Urach. At the final stops there are connections to regular bus services as well as to bicycle and hiking bus services (see “Getting there by bus”).
Texts Gerd Stegmaier (Region am Heidengraben)
Overall design studio klv (Berlin)
Programming Heindl Internet AG Tübingen
Illustrations Dieter Hagmann (3dmuseum.eu)State Office for Cultural Heritage (RP Stuttgart)State Museum Württemberg (Stuttgart)Eberhard Karls University (Tübingen)
The planning and implementation of the Celtic Experience Trail were realized with funding from the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Swabian Alb and LEADER Mittlere Alb.
Zweckverband “Region am Heidengraben”
Fon: +49 7125 / 9686-0Fax: +49 7125 / 9686-20E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The roots of the settlement history in the region around the Heidengraben date back to the Bronze Age, around 1.500 BC. This is evidenced by settlements and grave finds discovered in various places. So in the area of the burial ground near the “Burrenhof”, the starting point of the Celtic Experience Trail where people were buried for the first time as early as 1.200 BC, during the so-called Urnfield Culture.
Early Celtic burial ground
With the early Celtic period the Iron Age begins north of the Alps. It is the era of large tumulus fields, “princely seats” and burials with extraordinary rich grave goods as they are known from the Heuneburg on the upper Danube or from Eberdingen-Hochdorf near Ludwigsburg. At the “Burrenhof” also rich graves were discovered equipped with artistically designed daggers, gold earrings, amber jewelry or a four-wheeled wagon.
Water on the Swabian Alb
The late Celts were excellent well builders. This is proven by numerous well shafts with wooden formwork, up to 20 m deep, which are known from various sites in BadenWuerttemberg. In order to bring the water to the dwelling places and into the houses, they used ceramic vessels, tubes made of animal skin or barrels made of wood which are a Celtic invention.
Agriculture and animal husbandry
In late Celtic times the arable soils were worked with an iron-reinforced hook plough. The main crop was barley. The Celts cut cereals and grass with iron sickles and scythes. Mowing the grass enabled the feeding of animals with hay in winter and thus made livestock housing possible. Cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, dogs and chickens were kept as domestic and farm animals.
Settlement and farmstead
In addition to the city-like oppida and the unfortified settlements, there were also fortified manors in the countryside, so-called “Viereckschanzen”. These square enclosures were surrounded by a ditch and a rampart. The upper social class of the Heidengraben probably also lived in representative manor houses, which, however, were not fortified with a ditch and a rampart, but were only fenced in or surrounded by a palisade.
Entrance to town
Station 5 of the Celtic Experience Trail is located directly in front of Gate A of the “Elsachstadt”. The once probably up to five meter high walls and the enormous gate must have been impressive in Celtic times. Through Gate A trade goods arrived in the “Elsachstadt” which were delivered from the west via the rivers Rhine and Neckar. These included for example amphorae from Italy or rotary mills from the Odenwald.
Trade and crafts
As an important economic and trade center, the Heidengraben was a transshipment point for numerous local and long-distance trading goods. Wine from the Mediterranean region was sold here as well as local and regional products or livestock. Celtic coins made of bronze and silver served as payment, but bartering was also common. Remains of craftsmanship bear witness to metalworking and textile production within the settlement.
The way to the east
Located between the two major river systems of Central Europe, the Rhine and the Danube, the Heidengraben played an important role in the long-distance trade network of the late Celtic period. Raw glass and graphite clay which makes ceramics heat-resistant reached the Heidengraben from the east. There are also close connections to the area of today’s Bohemia, where the Boii tribe lived in late Celtic times.
Walls and gates
The fortifications of the Heidengraben were once almost 11 km long and had eight gates (A-H). Gate F, south of the “Burrenhof”, was a typical pincer gate of the late Celtic period. The 35 m long gate lane ended at a two-story gate building and was oriented towards the early Celtic burial mounds inside of the settlement. The impressive tumuli served the founders of the Heidengraben as an important place for ancestor worship.
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