The hidden history of Hengstbogen
The village of Hengstbogen (literally “Stallion land”) lies at 46.91N, 9.13E in Canton Glarus, Switzerland. Today abandoned, seldomly used as recovery for cattle, Hengstboden hides its foundation in the transliteration of its ancient name: Angstboden, which in ancient German means “fear of the bottom”.
Old histories from the time when first settlers colonized the region around the XIV century, tell about a group of young boys and girls who left the valley village of Elme (the modern Elm) for higher pastures, exactly in the area where Hangstboden is located today.
Nothing more was known about Angstboden until the end of last century, when a few parchments were dug out the floor of Elme bath houses, buried in 1762 by multiple avalanches. These parchments shed some light on the foundation of the village of Angstboden. Prof. Urs Diggerman of the University of Kiel (Germany), who first translated the parchments, reports in his “De originis Angstbogenensis” (ed. Pigniu, 1989) part of the story written on the parchments:
“The fragments of parchments I analyzed up to now list the names of the young boys and girls who presumably founded the village of Angstboden: “We Daniel, Peter, Thomas, Hans, Christian, Martin, Andreas, Michael, Markus and Marco all of age 19 and Maria, Anna, Sandra, Ursula, Ruth, Elisabeth, Monika, Claudia, Nicole and Verena all of age 14 left Elme after the flooding of 1344, which destroyed most of the town and killed three quarters of its citizens. We moved to the higher pastures of what we named Angstboden, and we swore we will never settle the valley again.“
“The document continues describing some unpleasant traditions adopted by the citizens of the newly founded village of Angstboden” – wrote Prof. DIggerman: “Twice a year, craving for Gods’ protection against future catastrophes, us, the citizens of Angstboden will sacrifice one of us, and then one of our children, and then one of the children of our children, and so on to the giant eye, which opens when flowers blossom and when leaves fall”. “Despite the sacrifices, something must have gone wrong”, commented Prof. Diggerman. “Possibly, too many ritual killings brought the population to extinction. Alternatively, inbreeding in a decreasing community might have increased genetic anomalies in the population, finally leading to infertility.” Interestingly, maps dating back to 1547, when thermal baths were already present in Elme, do not mention Angstboden and its community anymore, despite the proximity to Elme.
In 1799, the troops of the Russian general Suvorov stayed overnight in Elm before their retreat into Austria. History says that a group of Russian soldiers climbed up to what was once Angstboden, attracted by chanting voices from the wooden uphill houses. The soldiers never came back, their bodies were never found except for their uniforms close to the wooden houses.” Prof Diggerman concluded his research paper mentioning a last, additional parchment not yet translated that could have possibly described later events happened after the foundation of Angstboden and better reported about daily life, ritual sacrifices and possibly the final years of Angstboden. Sadly, Prof. Diggerman left us in September 2021 after a tragic fire burned down his studio in Kiel. No parchment remnants were found.
If you know more about the history of Angstboden, if you have documents, maps or drawings from the area we invite you to share them with us at the Diggerman foundation (at firstname.lastname@example.org). The foundation was generously sponsored by the family of Prof. Diggerman to keep his memory alive and hopefully complete his research work after his tragic and sudden death.