Erdställe (German, singular: Erdstal) are manmade caves
and tunnels as are many found in the loes areas of Austria
and the south of Germany.
They consist of systems of – often small – tunnels leading to chambers which
are of divers size and shape.
The German name ‘Erdstal’ traces back to the notion of
place or site and has nothing to do with a stable for animals.
The entrance to an Erdstal is often hidden and
difficult to identify. Many of them are under houses, churches and wine cellars
but also in the open field. The tunnels have the shape of a pointed arch or
have a flat ceiling and often they are no higher than 40 cm. The rooms are shaped
like a vessel and are often no higher than 1.30 meter. Sometimes seats
have carved in the loess but curiously they are no higher than 30 cm which make them
impractible to be used by humans.
There are little indications for the age of these
underground systems. Until more information is retrieved, one believes they
originate from the Middle Ages (1000 – 1200 AD).
There are many theories of the purpose and who made
them, but any proof is lacking. Since none of the tunnels have a second
entrance they are not very suited as hiding place, the moreover the air cannot
be refreshed easily.
Information about Erdställe, f.i about Stubenberg and
Gaweinstall, is available from the following websites (German language):