History of Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany

Five Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany Today

The History of Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany: The treadwheel cranes were used by architects and engineers from the times of the Romans. Probably some stopped being used only at the beginning of the 20th century. This is a detail of those that still exist. Some are original and have a thousand years of antiquity. A few others were rebuilt. These are the five medieval treadmill cranes existing today in Germany. All are worth knowing and if possible visit them.

Crane  in the Port of Luneburg – Germany

The The History of the crane in the old port of Ilmenau in Lüneburg (4) was mentioned for the first time in documents in 1330. Considered in its time one of the most efficient cranes in northern Germany, it is 15 meters high and could hoist 9 tons.

Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - Port of Luneburg
History of Medieval  Cranes (Treadwheel Cranes) in Germany – Port of Luneburg

The Medieval Treadwheel Crane was used mainly for the transport of salt and salting herring from department stores. Also firewood and merchandise. The crane was used until 1860 and the current state is operable but not used.

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Evolution of a Crane and Hoist in Ancient Rome

Evolution of a Roman Crane and Hoist in Ancient Rome Ancient Roman Crane and Hoist: The Roman Empire invested a lot of time, effort and money developing new cranes for the construction of their buildings, bridges and especially aqueducts. They took the Greek’s crane as a model and improved it. Roman Aqueducts and Ancient Cranes Roman aqueducts were underground for most of their length, so they were easier to maintain, as well as being less expensive to build. The beautiful arcades that …

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Medieval Treadwheel Crane in Strasbourg’s Cathedral

Medieval Treadwheel Crane in Cathedral of Strasbourg

We visited the Cathedral of Strasbourg 

The Cathedral of Strasbourg was the first cathedral of Germany (or Kingdom of Germania). Until the arrival of Louis XIV in 1681 and his minister of the war, the Marquess of Louvois that camped in the environs of Strasbourg and forced their submission to the French monarchy the 30 of September of 1681.

Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg Walking paths
Medieval Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg Walking paths

The Cathedral was delivered by the same Luis XIV The head of the Catholic bishopric of Strasbourg, Egon de Furstenberg. Absent from the city for almost 150 years, that way ended the period as an independent city.

The Cathedral

Designed in Gothic style, it was built during the second half of the 13th century. Although originally planned as a Romanesque structure, in 1053 today there is only the crypt and the floor of that style. At the end of the main chapel, the decision was taken to construct the nave in the Gothic style (1250).

The walls were open with Gothic stained glass but the interior remained predominantly Romanesque. The main colonnades were Romanic style. And they also supported the arches. They were very separate. The proportions of the ship are 1: 2.5.

Cathedral of Strasbourg
Cathedral of Strasbourg

Medieval Treadwheel Crane - Cathedral Strasbourg 

It is accessed by the side of the Cathedral, to a door that leads to a spiral staircase stone, without breaks. At the end of it before accessing the terrace on the left side you can see the Medieval Treadwheel Crane.

Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg Walking paths
Medieval Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg Walking paths

The same one that was used in the construction of the Cathedral. And it's still there. It was customary to leave the cranes in their original location after completion of the work, for maintenance or repair.

Medieval Treadwheel Crane Carpenters

The Medieval treadwheel crane Cathedral of Strasbourg is made of wood, manufactured by the carpenters. Like carvers, carpenters were a relatively privileged category of craftsmen. Considered for a long time the absolute masters of construction, its prestige began to decline as early as the 11th century with the generalization of stone vaults, which concealed from view its wooden structures.

Related post: Religious Tourism in the Middle Ages

Since then, both guilds have fought, sometimes with violence, the primacy in the construction works. But they had to remain closely linked because they had no choice but to depend on one another.

The Carpenters Masters

The master carpenter directed all the works in wood, that were developed from the beginning to the end of the work. He was a very skilled technician, who could discuss with the architect the timber structures to be lifted, both permanent and temporary.

The rigging, ladders and scaffolding that would be used by masons, sculptors and glaziers to work at different heights, inside and outside the building were all made of wood.

AstronomicClock of Cathedral of Strasbourg
AstronomicClock of Medieval Cathedral of Strasbourg

They also built support machinery to lift stones and other materials. Wheel cranes, also called spinning "squirrels" and three-up raisers, are inside these machines.

The Navy Carpenters of The Crane

Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg
Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg

The treadwheel crane was a piece that required a great technical skill. Perfect assemblies and combinations of forces show their relationship with naval carpentry. In regions with a strong maritime tradition, carpentry teachers shared the construction of cathedrals with work in the shipyards building ships. Both civilian and military.

The main application was the port cranes. Imitations can now be observed in different parts of Europe.

CONCLUSIONS

As can be seen in the photos this treadwheel crane is for two operators. While the word operators today is used to operate a mechanical crane, here is another thing. Two people, one on each side walk in synchronized form to lift a weight, to the control of a master of crane.

Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg Walking paths
Medieval Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg Walking paths

We have no idea of ​​the capacity of this particular crane, but it can be said that approximately would be for about 1500 to 3000 lb, taking into account the external diameter of the wheel. This would be about  4.5 yards. For those who visit the cathedral of Strasbourg, before accessing the terrace, you can appreciate this legacy artifact of other times.