Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Honorary Land Surveying in Bavaria
Field juries (“Feldgeschworene” or “Siebener”) establish and protect land and property boundaries for hundreds of years already. The expression “Siebener” emerged because usually there are seven officials responsible for a municipality. Due to the odd number, an unambiguous decision can always be made.
Facts & figures
Crucial date: all seasons
Domains: oral traditions and expressions; social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practice concerning nature and the universe; traditional craftsmanship
Where to find: Bavaria, Rhineland-Palatinate
“Feldgeschworene” make land borders clearly identifiable by specific markers and monitor their correct compliance. By setting up boundary stones, land borders are made visible and recognizable. According to tradition, “Siebener” also bury signs made from metal, glass, clay or the like in a certain way which is only known by themselves.
This so-called “Siebener-secret” is a sure indication for initiates as to whether a boundary stone has possibly been displaced or not. Even today, “Siebener” must take an oath to preserve this secret and pass it on to successors. Since in the beginning of the 19th century, the state-run land survey was introduced, the “Siebener” work effectively and trustfully together with the surveying authorities.
In the office of “Feldgeschworene” one is called for a lifetime. It is the oldest municipal honorary office in Bavaria, one of the few federal states in which this office still exists. Of particular importance were the “Siebener” in Franconia, which had many boundaries due to its small-scale properties. Today, the city and district of Fürth form an important center for sustaining the tradition in Middle Franconia.
The community of “Siebener” is consolidated by annual border walks, anniversaries, regular meetings, trainings and joint excursions. New “Siebener” are democratically elected by older members. Specific craftsmanship techniques and features of the tradition are passed on from generation to generation through oral transmission and active practice.