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Hochwald with the Erbeskopf (818 m)

The Hochwald with its dense forests surrounding the 818 metre high Erbeskopf (the highest mountain west of the Rhine in Germany) is a fertile source of legends and heroic tales. Many researchers of local history suspect that this pristine area of Hunsrück is one of the central settings for the medieval Nibelungen song. Here, according to the legend, Hagen von Tronje slew the noble hero Siegfried at the behest of Brunhilde.

In fact, Dhronecken castle at the foot of Erbeskopf mountain is thought to be a possible family seat of Hagen von Tronje and Hagen's friend Hunold is thought to have come from nearby Hunolstein castle. Moreover, the towns of Worms and Alzey —the most important locations in the Nibelungen song— are little more than a day's ride on horseback from the Hunsrück mountain range. There is, admittedly, virtually no evidence for any of this in the many accounts, which are full of "local-colour", for only the expulsion of the Burgundians from Worms after their defeat by the Huns is historically proven. The rest probably comes from the pen of a medieval poet who, around the year 1200, combined two originally independent legends into one courtly drama about love, passion, revenge and, naturally, gold. The poet quite deliberately did not describe the setting of his story in great detail, for it could actually be anywhere. But those who have a closer acquaintance with the Hochwald and have experienced how the autumn mist in the forests evokes a singular, enchanted mood or how the spring generates such a living, vibrant atmosphere, know that the poet can only have had this area in mind as the location of the Nibelungen song.

A picture book worth looking at: Uwe Anhäuser, Heimat am Idarwald; VG Rhaunen, 2001
Hiking Guides: Wolfgang Bartels, Hunsrück; DuMont Buchverlag, 1996 and Norbert Forsch, Hunsrück; Deutscher Wanderverlag, 2000

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