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Celtic House

In the reconstructed Celtic house, in Ligist, the living conditions of the Celts living on the Dietenberg are shown.

To the "Celtic House" on the Dietenberg

The Celts settled Central and Western Europe from the 6th century BC - from France and Switzerland, Central Germany and Austria to Slovakia. From Ligist, there were important settlements in Hallein (on the Dürrnberg) and in Hallstatt during this period. Because of the many finds discovered here, the early Iron Age is also called the Hallstatt period.

The overview maps on the right show that the western European Celts made an advance on Rome in 387 BC, occupying and plundering the town. In another advance, the Celts penetrated as far as Greece and reached the sanctuary of Delphi around 279 BC.

Here in Greece they also became acquainted with coins bearing the effigy of Philip II of Macedonia - the father of Alexander the Great - which then served as models for various Celtic coins. A silver coin was found only about 500 metres from the "Celtic House". It shows the portrait of Philip II with the laurel wreath on the obverse and a horse on the reverse. (Photo wall panel, centre) There is also a Celtic "rainbow bowl" (gold coin) from our area and a small silver coin with a depiction of a horse from Södingberg.

Why is there a "Celtic house" here in Ligist? The Celts settle Styria

In the course of their southeastern expansion, the Celts also came to what is now Styria and founded hilltop settlements such as on the Kulm near Weiz, on the Stradnerkogel, on the Wildonerberg and also here on the Dietenberg. Hilltop settlements were easier to defend from the top down. (See distribution map of Styria, right wall, 1st panel). 

This period from about 450 B.C. to around the birth of Christ is called the La Tène period (also called the Younger Iron Age), after an important find site at Lake Neuchâtel in western Switzerland.  

For the eastern Alpine region, this period brings the first written sources with the mentions of the Celtic population and the Noric kingdom by ancient authors. Furthermore, the introduction of the potter's wheel fundamentally changed the production of ceramics and the coveted Noric iron testifies to the high level of technical knowledge of the Celts.

On the building of the house

An information board - located on the hilltop of the Dietenberg during the scientific excavations of 1976/77 by the Universalmuseum Joanneum - reports the following about the Celtic settlement that existed here: "Several Celtic houses were located on the well-preserved settlement terraces cut into the rock on the northern slope of the Dietenberg. Paved paths connected them with each other. The foundations consisted of dry stone walls surrounded on the outside by raised stones. The walls were made of half-timbering plastered with clay, the roofs of reeds or straw and the floor of rammed clay.

The courtyards with the residential and farm buildings formed a village in loose groups, which existed from the 3rd to the 1st century BC. The foundations visible here are from a dwelling house built in the 1st century BC with a floor area of eight by twelve metres."

Daily life

Goats, sheep, pigs, cattle and horses were bred. Wheat, barley, broad beans and other crops were cultivated. Various animals and products could be traded with the Celts in the Central Alps for iron or salt. Salt was much sought after as a preservative for meat.

The illustrations on the right (centre of the house), show the inventory of tools. Hatchet, saw, hammer, drill, knife, pickaxe, shears, sickle, scythe and shovel are still used almost unchanged today.

The loom was also used, whereby mainly sheep's wool was processed into cloth.

The Celts also used coins made of gold and silver. Such coins were found both on Dietenberg and in Södingberg.

In Södingberg, scientific excavations and investigations in 1996-97 and 2007-08 also provided evidence of a settlement from the Middle to Late La Téne period (2nd and 1st century BC). This small lowland settlement consisting of simple wooden houses was surrounded by a double circular ditch probably built for defence reasons. 

On the burial of the Celts

The Celts had a structured world of gods and believed in a continuation of life after death. In order for the dead to be recognised in their social position in the afterlife - and to live on in this position - women were buried with their jewellery and men with jewellery and weapons, such as cutlasses, lances, shields, helmets, knives, etc. The dead were also given food and drink for their journey into the afterlife. Furthermore, the dead were given food and drink for their journey into the afterlife. In the very richly furnished princely tombs, chariots and horses were found in addition to gold jewellery and other valuable grave goods. Unfortunately, the burial ground belonging to the Celtic settlement on the Dietenberg has not yet been found. However, burial mounds from the Roman period are very well known in the vicinity.

Celtic names as well as the clothing, jewellery and hairstyles of Celtic women have been handed down to us, for example, through Roman stones. Of particular importance for our region are the Roman-era family gravestones preserved in the masonry of the parish churches of Stallhofen, Piber and Geistthal.

Text: Prof. Mag. et Dr.phil. Ernst Lasnik 

PS: The Celtic House and the prehistoric hiking trail on the Dietenberg were built in 1988 by the Ligist - Krottendorf Tourist and Beautification Association. In 2015/16, the Celtic House was re-roofed and renovated.

Celtic house outside | © Heinz Kürzl

The reconstructed Celtic house illustrates the living conditions of the resident Celts around 100 BC, before the Romans came to Noricum. 

Guided tours: 
02.05.-31.10.2022, any time by appointment +43 3143 2155 or +43 664 3927422 (Dkfm. Mag. Heinz Kürzl). 
Duration of the guided tour, approx. 45 min. 
Admission: voluntary donation

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Celtic House
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Dietenberg 50, 8563 Ligist
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