The early history of Warnemünde, at the mouth of the Warnow, and the City of Rostock, is closely linked with Danish history because of the Baltic Sea. The discovery of the possible royal palace could be a connecting piece.
Gerard Lau, former manager of the Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments in the City of Rostock, discovered the correlations with the royal palace. Lau introduced the facts as we know them today: “1605, as is clearly written with wall anchors on the facade of the Bailiwick, is the year this building was constructed. It is the seat of the town Bailiwick, which was placed in Warnemünde in order to keep constant watch over Rostock’s vital artery, the harbour entrance and exit.
However, 1605 is just one date in the history of the Bailiwick, right up to its restoration as the “Haus des Gastes” (Guest House). Research into the building’s construction has delved deeper into the past, back to the supposed time the place emerged. On this site in 1473, a manor house was named, which was brought into disrepair in 1487 by the rulers during a dispute with the inhabitants of Rostock. The rulers knew where the merchants could be hit the hardest - the place where they had to store their wealth. Eventually, the rulers left, taking the roof tiles of the manor house with them as valuable loot. It was an extremely precious haul, because already then the house had a firm roof covering, which was much more impressive in Warnemünde, where only a few straw-covered huts stood in two rows. Right in the middle of these buildings was the manor house, with a hall occupying the ground floor. On top of that was another floor and then a high-towering roof. Such a house was a rarity in the countryside.
Underneath the house was the vault cellar, which has been supporting the building since before 1473 with its granite stone. And in this stone lie the supposed ruins of the palace of the Danish king Erich VI Medved, which is mentioned in the history books again and again. Built in 1300, the house acted as an “assembly area” for Danish and German land owners. However, in 1311, the Danish ruler complained bitterly that the inhabitants of Rostock had demolished his palace and the neighbouring church. And he forced the city, after he regained feudal control over it, to reconstruct the house and church.
As he understood it, this was his home, and these Slavic German lands had always been regarded by his ancestors as Danish property. And did his grandmother, Queen Margaret of the Abbey of the Holy Cross (see the Hundsburg legend) not find herself stranded here with her relatives in Rostock? And did she not spend the night here in Warnemünde when she brought a splinter from the cross of Christ to Rostock? And did the huscarls, the Danish legionnaires under Cnut the Great, not bring Danish law to this area in the 11th century?
Today’s Bailiwick has answered some questions; for the time being, these answers supposedly lead us back to 1300. It is a time in which Warnemünde was first mentioned in the bill of sale for the Rostock Heath in 1152. ‘Verneminne’, the earlier place name mentioned in literature and in Danish documents from 1195, is not yet proven” This is all that is known by Gerhard Lau about Warnemünde (in a Tourist Centre flyer from 1999).
It is a long time since all the details have been collated. Those who know about Danish and German history, who could help unravel this “discovery”, should get involved in the discussion.
A good viewing spot would be from the railway bridge across the Alter Strom in Warnemünde towards the cornerhouse - at sunrise if at all possible.
Picture caption: Rostock’s coat of arms from 1605 at the old Bailiwick in Warnemünde
Text, photo: Dr Hartmut Schmied, www.hartmutschmied.com
Further fables and legends about Rostock and the area can be found in: Hartmut Schmied, Geister, Götter, Teufelssteine (Ghosts, Gods, Devil’s Stones). Sagen und Legendenführer (Fable and Legend Guide) Mecklenburg Vorpommern, Hinstorff Verlag, Rostock 2011 (sold at the tourist information desk).