Overview of General Historical Development

Prehistory: Evidence of Mesolithic hunters and gatherers.  From the Neolithic, indications of farming but not on any permanent basis, with signs of extensive use of the hinterland areas for wood and pastureland.  For the Pre-Roman metal ages, a similar pattern is also apparent but there are also remains to suggest scattered settlement, with a large number of hill graves in some sub-regions.

8-9th Centuries:  Archaeological evidence of permanent settlements on the borders of the Solling region (Schmeeßen) in an area controlled by a Saxon lord.

815-822:  Hethis, the forerunner of the imperial Frankish monastery of Corvey.  Located between the post-medieval villages of Neuhaus and Derenthal.

c. 1004:    Brun ‘donates’ some families of Smitheredeshusun to the Benedictine abbey of Corvey.

c. 1100: Castle of Nienover founded by the counts of Dassel.  Development of a new county teamed with large-scale land clearing in the King’s forest of the Solling.

c. 1200:  Nienover becomes the main residence of the counts of Dassel, with a new town founded to the  west of the castle.

13th Century:  Evidence from archaeological investigations point to this period being the zenith for colonisation of the Solling. Large field systems, numerous villages, diverse economic activities such as charcoal production, glass manufacturing, mineral exploration, smelting and working of ore (iron) along with pottery production (Fredelsloh & Bengerode) and the opening of stone-working quarries. Larger and wealthier villages like Winnefeld and Smedersen have their own churches, Political upheaval and developments lead to the collapse of weaker powers such as the counties of the Dassel lords and after a punitive raid in c.1270 the town of Nienover is deserted.

14th Century:    Noticeable depression of the European rural economy. Climate changes, with increased soil erosion, famine and plague resulting in dramatic population decrease along with greatly reduced income from crop farming. Increases noted in raids on towns and villages.  Less well defended and less productive regions are depopulated, with the majority of villages in the Solling shrinking drastically or completely abandoned as inhabitants move on to larger settlements. Founding of new castles along with markets in the Weser Valley in places such as Beverungen and Lauenförde.

15th Century:  The devastation of the cultural landscape continues although some limited economic improvement can be seen. Medieval settlements in the Solling, quite unique due to their dense concentration, are nearly all deserted,  with one of the final events bringing about abandonment being raids by Bohemian mercenaries in 1447. In the Weser valley, we see an unusually rapid build up of isolated markets and small towns, for the most part, without economic hinterlands. Yet, even with these establishments, such as Bodenfelde, Herstelle and  Lauenförde, there is a marked loss of economic import and status. 

16th Century: Notable increases in population and economic improvements. Founding of new settlements at locations such as Derenthal  and Neuhaus. The Solling, to a large degree, is not resettled mainly due to the forestry and hunting rights held by the Dukes of Brunswick and the economic spheres of interest of neighbouring towns.  Noticeable though in the Solling, is the region is extensively utilised for wood and pastureland.  The underlying structures of our modern cultural landscape were laid at this time.

c. 1800: This period saw the cessation of traditional methods of forest use and the commencement of modern intensive forest economy. 
An Interdisciplinary Archaeological Project in the Solling