A fortress and widow's residence

Kirchheim Palace

View of Kirchheim Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende
EVIDENCE OF LOG DRIVING ON THE NECKAR RIVER

THE ROOF TRUSS

The roof truss at Kirchheim Palace provides exciting insights into trade connections and Württemberg construction methods in the 16th century.

Log driving. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Otto Feucht

Long, stable trunks were needed for the roof truss.

SOFTWOOD AS A BUILDING MATERIAL

Instead of using the oaks that grew in the Kirchheim area at the time of the palace's construction, 16th-century construction workers primarily used conifer wood from the Black Forest for the roof truss. The long, straight trunks were particularly well suited for spanning the 15-meter-wide ceiling. Softwood is also less likely than oak to crack, thanks to its longer fibers, and is therefore better able to withstand the tensile force of the truss.

WOOD FOR DUCAL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

Duke Ulrich required a reliable source of building materials for his numerous construction projects, which included the expansion of the stronghold in Kirchheim. It is for this reason that, as early as the 1530s, he had the upper sections of the Glatt river in the Black Forest expanded to allow for log driving. From there, the required logs would be transported as close as possible to the ducal construction sites.

Raft of logs, Jägerschmid, 1828

Softwood trunks are tied together.

LOG DRIVING ON THE NECKAR RIVER

Logs could be transported far more easily on the Glatt, Enz and particularly the Neckar rivers than they could be on land. To do so, the logs were linked together into long rafts. This method was used to transport large quantities of firewood and timber from the Black Forest to the Stuttgart region between the 16th and 19th centuries.

Cordage eyes in the roof truss beams at Kirchheim Palace

Roof truss beams with cordage eyes.

EYES IN THE BEAMS

The cordage eyes in the roof beams at Kirchheim Palace are particularly striking. The cordage was braided or spun out of willow tree branches and was pulled through triangularly notched holes in the beams in order to connect logs on a drive. In addition to these distinctive holes in the beams, other notches are often transport markings from log driving.

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