Landscape parks in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Not so long ago, in 1972, two megaliths in Neubrandenburg (909, 910; see also 917) were moved into the "Kulturpark" (culture park) Neubrandenburg. Presumably, this park had, however, little in common with the idealised landscape parks and gardens that have been created around many mansions and estates in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (see Metzger and Schattinger 1993).

The garden architect and Royal Garden Director Peter Joseph Lenné (1789–1866) was responsible for some of the most important parks such as those in Basedow (see image right), Remplin, Neustrelitz, Ludwigslust and Schwerin (Hinz 1937; 1940a; 1940b; 1941a; 1941b). Influenced by the tradition of English landscape parks, it was not unusual in Germany that landscape parks and gardens included romantic follies, such as artificial ruins and other buildings containing architectural references to an idealised distant past (cf. Jones 1974; Piggott 1976: 119–122; Smiles 1994: chapter 9; Barasch 1997). Such landscapes are thus known in German as "englische Landschaftsgärten" (English landscape gardens). One example is the Burggarten on the island around the palace in Schwerin, which contains a beautiful archaic stone grotto (Metzger and Schattinger 1993: 106–109). Parks and gardens in Hohen Niendorf, Basedow, Pustow and around Burg Schlitz (see image left) also incorporated megaliths. Whereas those constructions near Burg Schlitz were all built during the 19th century, in Basedow, Hohen Niendorf and Pustow megaliths originally built during the Neolithic were preserved and became parts of the new gardens and parks (cf. Smiled 1994: 203–213).

It is interesting to observe that the interest in ancient monuments as part of artificially created landscapes coincided with the beginnings of archaeology during the 18th and 19th centuries which likewise focused on the past in the landscape (Smiles 1994). On one level, megaliths provided simply a certain degree of novel entertainment in a recreational environment. In contemporary Romantic thinking however, an important function of ruins in landscape parks was to symbolise the victory of natural decay over human ambitions, which provoked melancholy and an awareness of human transience. They functioned first and foremost as 'denk-mals', the significance of which was enhanced by the aura surrounding ancient monuments. At the same time, a ruin could acquire political meanings, when it became

"a symbol of time's destruction of ancient autocratic power, with the crumbling abbey or decaying castle standing for freedom from the corrupt oppression by monks or barons" (Piggott 1976: 120).

Both simulated and actual prehistoric monuments symbolised additionally an idealised time of origin in the distant past, when the world was still primitive but essentially in order. Located in picturesque settings, they stimulated passers-by to feel nostalgic for the lost grandeur of a primeval paradise. It was for partly similar reasons that the Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich included ruins and megaliths in some of his landscape paintings.

Similar emotional responses to ancient remains were hoped for by Albert Speer who, in the 1930s, built and planned monumental buildings as the prospective ruins of a later age.


Literature

Barasch, Moshe (1997) Die Ruine—ein historisches Emblem. In: K.E.Müller and J.Rüsen (eds) Historische Sinnbildung. Problemstellungen, Zeitkonzepte, Wahrnehmungshorizonte, Darstellungsstrategien, pp. 519–535. Reinbek: Rowohlt.

Hinz, Gerhard (1937) Peter Joseph Lenné. Das Gesamtwerk des Gartenarchitekten und Städteplaners. [Reprint Hildesheim etc.: Georg Olms 1989]

Hinz, Gerhard (1940a) Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis der mecklenburgischen Parkanlagen. Unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der schöpferischen Tätigkeit des Peter Joseph Lenné. Part One. Gartenkunst 53, 113–119.

Hinz, Gerhard (1940b) Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis der mecklenburgischen Parkanlagen. Unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der schöpferischen Tätigkeit des Peter Joseph Lenné. Part Two. Gartenkunst 53, 165–170.

Hinz, Gerhard (1941a) Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis der mecklenburgischen Parkanlagen. Unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der schöpferischen Tätigkeit des Peter Joseph Lenné. Part Three. Gartenkunst 54, 71–76.

Hinz, Gerhard (1941b) Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis der mecklenburgischen Parkanlagen. Unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der schöpferischen Tätigkeit des Peter Joseph Lenné. Part Four. Gartenkunst 54, 179–188.

Jones, Barbara (1974) Follies & Grottoes. Second edition. London: Constable.

Metzger, Hubert and Bernd Schattinger (1993) Gärten und Parks in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Würzburg: Stürtz.

Piggott, Stuart (1976) Ruins in a Landscape. Aspects of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Antiquarianism. In: S.Piggott, Ruins in a Landscape. Essays in Antiquarianism, pp. 101–132. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Smiles, Sam (1994) The Image of Antiquity. Ancient Britain and the Romantic Imagination. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

© Cornelius Holtorf