Development Process Roman Battle Area at Harzhorn


Institute of Landscape Architecture
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Lohrberg


Since August 2011, the Institute of Landscape Architecture has been working on a development concept for a newly discovered Roman Battle Area at the so-called Harzhorn (administrative district Northeim, Southern Lower Saxony). From 2012 onwards, student projects will be interwoven in the research project. In addition, the example Harzhorn also provides a basis for discussions for interdisciplinary cooperations in the subject area of cultural heritage. The focus is mainly put on aspects of landscape and region.
Planning and designing in connection with cultural heritage may open up several new areas of activity and challenges. All resources from the past are referred to as cultural heritage, which are inherited by a society and, independent from any system of property ownership, are valued as bearers of identity, values, beliefs, knowledge or traditions. Legally, the cultural heritage includes a selection of elements, which are considered as cultural heritage in the international and European regulations inclusive of the guidelines of the EEC/EU. In principle, any testimony from the historical interaction between people and places can be interpreted as a cultural heritage: not only registered monuments and natural assets, but also landscape elements such as pilgrim paths, alleys, dance places, battlefields –comprehensively also the cultural landscape itself as a foundation of the society and thus as a cultural heritage. This type of aspects becomes apparent at Harzhorn.

View of the Harzhorn View of the Harzhorn

After the turn of the millennium, remains of a battle between Romans and Teutons were found at Harzhorn. The findings from the third Century after Christ amazed the experts: So far, it had been assumed that Roman units had no longer advanced into the “Germania Libera” during that era – a sensation for the Central European historiography. The find spot – a wooded elevation in a rural area with villages and small towns – is located within view of the busy highway A7 and in comparison to other ancient battlefields it is very well preserved. In addition to a further archaeological investigation of the find spot it is now necessary to clarify how the Roman battle area can be prepared to document and inform on-site. One goal of the development concept is to realize the tourism potential of Harzhorn, in order to generate economic impulses for the region. Beside an analysis, the concept contains first drafts as well as a master plan for the area. The latter serves as a spatial overall concept as well as a framework for continuous processes– such as changing exhibitions or continuing excavations. In the course of the realization of the master plan, students get the possibility to contribute to the research project by means of temporary onsite programs and designs for an interactive center.
As described above, the concept of cultural heritage not only spotlights registered monuments and natural assets but also battlefields as well as cultural landscape and the region. In this respect, the development concept examines the possibilities of a visitor infrastructure, which centers on an authentic understanding of battle operations without compromising the location and its functions itself in the process. For this purpose, elements such as adventure paths, rest areas and viewing platforms are used which can be flexibly planned. Thus, extensions of the site can be made possible on a phase by phase basis. In addition, applications of the principle are also possible at other historical sites in the region.
So far, the battle find spots extend over a length of approximately 4km within a heterogeneous cultural landscape, which consists of beechen mixed forests, spruce monocultures, meadows, fields and traffic infrastructure. Within the development concept, the presence of such contemporary use is not retouched, but conceptually included: for example, the simultaneous reflection of the settings of today and the process of the battle then are made possible by various means. An observation platform, for instance, can offer the retracing of both the campaign directions and today’s natural scenery at the same time. On a secondary level, existing elements from other historical periods such as medieval ravines and a Napoleonic Chaussee are also incorporated.


In addition, landscape ecological requirements, which, in the spatial planning are usually classified sectorally, are integrated in the current working step: A wildlife corridor initiated by the federal government with green bridge will run parallel to the historic battle direction. This poses functional challenges but also makes extensions of the experience and education program for visitors possible.
The Harzhorn illustrates how the concept of cultural heritage puts a focus on comprehensive considerations of scale, time and function. The new opportunities, which these considerations can offer specifically for architectural design against the background of cultural heritage, will be shown by future student designs for the interactive center.