Runkenstein Mural of 3 heroes

Schloss Runkelstein (Castel Roncolo) mural triads

§ Overview

    Castle Runkelstein ( Schloss Runkelstein (bei Bozen) [G.]; Castel Roncolo (a Bolzano) [It.] ) in the province of Bolzano in the Italian Tirol is known for its chivaliric motif murals dating to the 14th century.

    The full splendor of the artwork is more evident in the murals of the Tristan room, Tournament room *1.

*1 Also in the summerhouse is the Garelzimmer the Garel von dem Blüenden Tal wing, and les known, the images depicting Wigalois, der Ritter mit dem Rade. Wigalois is the knight blessed with the luck of the Wheel of Fortune is Gâwain's son, and in Old French he is a figure initially known only as the "Le Bel Inconnu" (The Fair Unknown) and later revealed to have the name Guinglain.

§ Inscriptions on the Frescos at Castle Runkelstein (late 14c.)

    Murals on outer walls of the building, exposed to the elements, have not preserved as well, but in particular, at the castle's summer house, are the Nine triads murals which are of great folkloreaninterest in that they depict some of the well known heroes and giants of Medieval romances, and bear inscriptions.

Inschriften sind folgende:
  1. Hector, Caesar, Alexanter.
  2. Josua, Rex davit, Juda.
  3. Rex artaus, Carolus Magnus, Hertzog gottfrid.
  4. -- -- all' stund, die frumsten zu der tafl rund.
    Her parsival, Her gabein,
  5. So sein die --
    1. 2. agley, wilhalm vo osterreich.
    3. 4. isold, tristram.
    5. 6. omaley, wilhalm vo orlyans.
  6. 1. dittereich < wô-paî e treit-bachs.
    2. der Hurnen seifrit treit palnong <
    3. dietlayb-vo-steyer-treit-belsung.
  7. < waren das die drey risen groz < alzeit-die Sterchten under irem genoz.
    1. her waltrom treit aborit.
    2. Kunig orthneit -- --
    3. Schraumann treit furûs.
  8. Under allen ungeheuern, under allen < mach man sû für die ungeheurigysten schreiben.
    1. fraw riel nagelringen.
    2. fraw -- --
    3. fraw ranik. -- (rachyn ranik.)
  9. Under allen twer -- waren das die drei.
— transcribed by Becker, →p.XXV *4
[Becker's footnote says that all the names in cursive(italics) are copied precisely in the original orthography.]

Zingerle's reading in Germania 23 *2:

VII. „Es waren das die drey risen groz und allzeit die sterchsten vnder iren gnoz.“
1. „her Waltram treit aburil“ 2. „Kinig Orthneit“ 3. „schranmann treit furunz“

VIII. „Under allen ungeheurn under allen mag man sy fir die ungeheirigisten schreiben*)“
1. „Fraw riel nagelringen.“ 2. [unlesebar "illegible"] 3. „Fraw rachyn rauck.“

The inscriptions are as follows:
  1. Hector, Caesar, Alexander.
  2. Joshua, King David, Judas [Maccabeus].
  3. King Arthur, Charlemagne, Duke Godefroi [de Bouillon, king of Jerusalem] .
  4. -- -- All stood, the most pious of the Round Table:
    Sir Perceval, Sir Gawain, Ywain.
  5. So are the -- [pairs of lovers:]
    1. 2. Aglei and [Duke] William of Austria.
    3. 4. Isold and Tristan.
    5. 6. Amelei and William of Orleans.
  6. [The three famous swords:]
    1. Dietrich bore Sachs.
    2. Horn-hardened Siegfried bore Balmung
    3. Dietleib of Styria bore Welsung.
  7. The three giants of all time, the mightest of their kindred.
    1. Sir Waltrom bore "Aborit"[?].
    2. King Ortnit [bore Rose??]
    3. Struthan(Schrutan) bore "Furaus"[?].
  8. Of all the monsters of all -- most monstrous of all described:
    1. [The Giantess] wife Ruel Nagelring.
    2. The wife -- --
    3. The wife ranik. -- (rachyn ranik.)
  9. Of all the dwarfs, were these three..

The book Deutsche Heldenepik in Tirol*3 has a set of black and white photographs of the triads murals (the links are only snippets):
  • p.282
    Abb. 14: Die drei größten Helden der Antike (Hektor, Alexander, Cäsar) und die drei größten jüdischen Helden (Josua, David, Judas Makkabäus). Aus den Triaden auf Schloß Runkelstein. Um 1400.
  • p.283 Abb. 15: Die drei besten christlichen Könige (Artus, Karl d. Gr., Gottfried von Bouillon).
  • p.284
    Abb. 16: Die drei bedeutendsten Ritter (Parzival, Gawan, Iwein). Die drei edelsten Liebespaare (Wilhelm von Österreich und Aglei. Tristan und Isolde. Wilhelm von Orleans mit Amelei).
  • p.285
    Abb.17: Die drei berühmtesten Schweter: Dietrich trägt Sachs, Siegfried Balmung und Dietleib Welsung.
  • p.286
    Abb.18: Die drei Riesen Ortwein, Struthan und Asprian. Aus den Triaden ~.
  • p.287
    Abb. 19: Die drei Riesenweiber Hilde (Riel) Nagelringen, Vodelgart und Rachim oder Rütze.
  • p.288
    Abb.20: Drei reitende Zwerge, vermutlich die Könige Goldemar, Bibunc und Alberich. Links zwei der drei Riesenweiber (s. Abb. 19)

[The giants]
1) According to the captions, the figure in the giants' murals is not Ortnit but "Ortwein" (= Ortwîn [MHG]), i.e. the brother of Fasold (= Pûsolt [MHG]) and nephew of Schrutan (= Schrûtân [MHG]).
2) The "Struthan" in the caption is Strûthan [MHG], the variant spelling in found in Rosengarten (D) for Schrutan. He is killed by Heime in the Rosengarten tournament.
3) Making "Asprian" out of what appears to be her waltrom seems to be a stretch.

Note that this giant is referred to as Herr= or "Sir". A famed hero with the name closest to the inscription seems to me to be Walther of Aquitaine, not typically known as a giant, but in the Latin poem he is being insulted for being a faunus "wood-sprite" (* though this is considered a name-calling pun in German on "Walt-herr" or "lord of the woods"). Walther's sword is Waske [LOC] in the German poem Biterolf, and this is usually connected with the Waskenwald (the forests of Vosges) where the culminating fight is said to have taken place. In the Anglo-Saxon Waldere fragments, his sword seems to be Mimmung [LOC] or of the same manufacture as it. One is inclined to suspect connection between Mimming and the smith Mime/Mimir, who is described by Saxo as Mimmingus the "sylvan satyr" and thus there might have been some tradition that they both were from a race of Hulda-folk of the forests. The "Aborit" does sounds somwhat like arbor the Latin for tree.

It should be noted that the item that the giant is "bearing, carrying" does not have to be a sword (although the example of the giantess bearing Nagelrinc suggests it might be likely). Two of the giants are girt with swords but all of them hold staffs. So another candidate for this unidentified giant might be Widolt (in König Rother) or 'Witolt mit der stangen' "with the staff/truncheoun" (in Dukus Horant). Neither of these are in the non-Dietrich cycle, but Viðolfr the giant in Thidreks saga suggests that he was belonged there.

Much more could be written on the various mural work (the majority are Arthurian), but the focus here is particularly on the triads, and whether their mural inscription contain lore on named weapons in German heroic tales.

*1 Becker, A. "Schloß Runkelstein und seine Wandgemälde". In: Mitteilungen der kk Central- Commission zur Erforschung und Erhaltung der Kunst- und historischen Denkmale, NF[Neue Folge] 4 (1878), pp. XXIII - XXIX. (Transcription on →p.XXV [new window])

*2 Zingerele, J. V. [Ignaz Vinzenz, 1825-1892.],

— "Die Fresken des Schlosses Runkelstein" Germania 2 (1857) pp.467-

— "Zu den Bildern in Runkelstein" Germania 23 (1878) pp.28-

On stanza VII.
Zingerele in Germania 2, p.468 said the giants were probably "Asprian, Ortnit, Struthan" which he corrects in Germ. 26 (in the light of the inscriptions) to be Waltram, Ortnit, and Schrutan. He also cites Z. Zupitza's guess (Deutsche Heldenbuch V., xlv) that they were the brothers "Fasold, Ecke, und Ebenrot." Zingerele says the weapon of the first giant is no longer known, Ortnit led a swine-like beast, Schranmann (?) a swaddled child.

On stanza VIII.
Zingerele's guess published in Germania 2, p.468 is "Hilde, Uodelgart und Rutze (Rachim)". Udodelgart is the sister of Ecke, who attacks Dietrich in Eckenlied (L). Runze (Ortnit, Wolfdietrich (B)) or Rachin (Eckenlied (d)) is the aunt of Ecke.

To translate/paraphrase Zingerele:

The first name seems to be Ruel (Rûêl [MHG]), the giantess in Wirnt von Grafenberg's Arthurian tale Wigalois. However, Zingerle sees no connections between the giantess and the Dietrich's sword Nagelring; consequently, he substitutes her with Hilde, the wife of Grîme, who are the owners of the sword Nagelring and the helm Hildegrîn according to the story preserved in the Thidrekssaga.
(But cf. Gillespie's A Catalog of Persons Named in Ger. Heroic Lit. where notes that the giantess Rôme in Wolfdietrich (D) carries Wolfdietrich and his horse, much as the giantess Rûêl carries Wigalois and his horse).

As for the second giantess, "The name of the second woman has become undecipherable after thrice being repainted has totally or partially mangled the letters". :
{more to be added} :

*3Kühebacher, Egon, Deutsche Heldenepik in Tirol: König laurin und Dietrich von Bern in der Dichtung des Mittelalters (Bozen: Verlagsanstalt Athesia 1979) [Serie: Schriftenreihe des Südtiroler Kulturinstitutes Bd.7] Snippet views are available at . This book is an anthology of essays. The mural photos occurs among Walther Lipphardt's piece "Epische Liedweisen des Mittelalters in Schriftlicher Überlieferung" pp. 275 but that concerns medieval written records of musical notation, etc. and not particularly connected.

  • Univ. Tübingen Mittelatlter exkursion site [Wandgemälde] (good overview of left to right: 3 knights of the round; 3 pairs of lovers: -- arch -- 3-some of Dietrich, Dietleib and Siegfried; 3 giants, 3 monstrous women)
  • Provincia Ferrera page [Guercino e la sua bottega] (wall at oblique angle)
  • Prof. Schowb's site (gallery) ()
  • Online Enzyklopaedie (distant)

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