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Location of the Hunsrück in Germany
Highest point
Peak Erbeskopf
Elevation 816 m (2,677 ft)
Country Germany
State/Province Rhineland-Palatinate
Range coordinates Coordinates: 50°00′N 7°30′E / 50.000°N 7.500°E / 50.000; 7.500
Orogeny Central Uplands

The Hunsrück (German pronunciation: [ˈhʊnsʁʏk]) is a low mountain range in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is bounded by the river valleys of the Moselle (north), the Nahe (south), and the Rhine (east). The Hunsrück is continued by the Taunus mountains on the eastern side of the Rhine. In the north behind the Moselle it is continued by the Eifel. To the south of the Nahe is the Palatinate region.

Many of the hills are no higher than 400 metres above sea level. There are several chains of much higher peaks within the Hunsrück, all bearing names of their own: the (Black Forest) Hochwald, the Idar Forest, the Soonwald, and the Bingen Forest. The highest mountain is the Erbeskopf (816 m).

Notable towns located within the Hunsrück include Simmern, Kirchberg, and Idar-Oberstein, Kastellaun, and Morbach. Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, a growing low-fare carrier and cargo airport is also located within the region.

The climate in the Hunsrück is characterised by rainy weather, and mist rising in the morning. Slate is still mined in the mountains.


Location of the Hunsrück within Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland


The heart of the Hunsrück is formed by the Hunsrück Plateau and the Simmern Bowl. In the northwest the Hunsrück is bounded by the Moselle river and in the east by the Rhine. Its northeasternmost tip is thus formed by the Deutsches Eck. The Nahe - on the edge of the Bingen Forest, the Soonwald and the Lützelsoon - borders the mountains to the south. The Lower Naheland is not part of the Hunsrück, but belongs to the Upper Rhine Plain. The Idar Forest, the Hochwald and the Wildenburger Kopf adjoin the Hunsrück to the southwest. Here the Upper Nahe Hills rise in the shadow of the Hunsrück. The Osburger Hochwald, Schwarzwalder Hochwald and the rivers Saar and Ruwer form the western perimeter. Its southern continuation is formed by the Westrich and the North Palatine Uplands.

The low mountain range is around 100 km long (SW to NE) and an average of 25 to 30 km wide (NW to SE). Its perimeter is a heavily incised peneplain with elongated ridges in the south (the Hochwald, Idar Forest, Soonwald and Bingen Forest).[1] The range, which begins at the Saar in the southwest and, with breaks, reaches as far as the Rhine, climbs to its highest point in the Hochwald at the Erbeskopf (816.32 m), the highest peak in the Hunsrück and in the Rhenish Massif west of the Rhine. It continues to the NE as the Idar Forest with its highest peaks, An den zwei Steinen (766.2 m) and the Idarkopf (745.7 m). Its northeasternmost part is formed by the Soonwald (highest mountain: the Ellerspring, 656.8 m), the Lützelsoon (Womrather Höhe, 599.1 m) and the Bingen Forest (Kandrich, 638.6 m). All these ranges form an almost unbroken belt of forest.[2] – To the east of the Rhine the crest of the Hunsrück is continued by the Taunus.

Geomorphologically the Hunsrück bears great similarities to the Eifel, the Taunus and the Westerwald, which are also part of the Rhenish Massif.

The Hunsrück hill road runs from west to east from Saarburg to Koblenz. A Roman military road, the so-called Via Ausonius also once ran through the mountains in an east-west direction and linked Trier with Bingen.

In many primary schools in the Hunsrück children are taught the boundaries of the Hunsrück using the following rhyme: "Mosel, Nahe, Saar und Rhein schließen unsern Hunsrück ein." ("Moselle, Nahe, Saar and Rhine enclose our Hunsrück")

Flora und Fauna[edit]

Despite, in places, intensive agricultural or timber use, the Hunsrück remains a landscape with a biodiversity, because many elements of the landscape can only be extensively utilised or even not used at all.


The plant world of the Hunsrück is rich and varied. In the Soonwald there are over 850 species of ferns and flowers. The traditional forest monocultures are increasingly giving way, especially as a result of windthrow damage, to mixed woods, supporting a greater variety of plant species.


Although the Hunsrück is not classified as a bird reserve, it is home to a wide variety of bird species: woodpeckers, birds of prey and song birds may be seen at all times of the year. Even the rare and shy black stork nests in the forests. The Hunsrück is rich in mammals; red deer, roe deer and wild boar are intensively hunted. Larger predators include a few examples of wild cat or even the lynx. Red fox, badgers and pine martens are more commonly encountered.

The best known mammal in the Hunsrück has become the barbastelle. It achieved notoriety when the presence of this rare species of bat delayed construction on the runway extension at Hahn Airport.[3]

In the numerous wet areas, amphibians, like the fire salamander, and insects have found ideal habitats. Meanwhile in areas covered by dry grassland or scree, numerous reptiles like the slow worm and smooth snake have found a home. The viper does not occur in the Hunsrück.



Finds such as stone axes indicate that the Hunsrück has been settled since the New Stone Age. Older discoveries, which prove that the area was either settled or crossed during the Old Stone Age, are rare. Middle Palaeolithic (ca. 200,000–400,000 B.C.) surface finds from Weiler bei Bingen are an exception. By contrast the Gravettian (ca. 30,000–20,000 B.C.) sites in Heddesheim (in the municipality of Guldental) and Brey (in the municipality of Rhens) are the first settlments in the area around the Hunsrück. The rather more recent Old Stone Age site of Nußbaum[4] near Bad Sobernheim and the encampment of Late Palaeolithic deer hunters in Boppard,[5] which was first discovered in 2001 by the ARRATA Archaeology Society, should also be mentioned. In 2014, Late Palaeolithich rock carvings, like those known in southern France and Spain, were found for the first time in Germany in the Hunsrück. They were portraits of animals, especially horses, about 25,000 years old carved into a 1.2 m² slab of slate.[6]

The oldest witnesses from the New Stone Age are dated to no later than the Middle Neolithic, relics of the so-called Rössen culture (whose sites include Biebernheim and Reckershausen). The majority of finds, especially of stone axes date, however, to the Late Neolithic and belong to the Michelsberg culture. Up to 2007, numerous oval stone axes were discovered, especially in the Fore-Hunsrück (Morshausen, Beulich and Macken). Likewise, finds of flint arrowheads point to a Late Neolithic (inter alia at Bell) and very Late Neolithic (Hirzenach) settlement.[7] Other finds from the Bronze Age prove that there was continual settlement (especially documented by graves and grave goods). A greater process of settlement took place in the Early Iron Age (Hallstatt period) with the Laufeld culture and in the La Tène period (5th– 1st century B.C.) with the Hunsrück-Eifel culture, which can be linked with the Celts. This is indicated, e.g. by the coach grave of Bell, the Waldalgesheim prince's grave, the circular rampart of Otzenhausen, the Pfalzfeld flame column, the upland settlement of Altburg in the Hahnenbach valley and the numberous fields of tumuli. At that time, the Hunsrück was the tribal area of the Treveri.

Roman period[edit]

Between about 50 B. C. and 400 A. D. the Romans opened up the Hunsrück by building a dense network of roads. The best known relic of this is the Via Ausonius. Numerous finds of Roman farms (Villa Rustica), settlements, like the vicus, Belginum, and military structures point to an almost total settlement of the region by the Romans.

Frankish period[edit]

The final years of the 4th century saw the decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire. The Franks conquered the Roman territories and began to divide them up. This was the start of the great western and central European empire of Francia. In the mid-8th century this was divided into gaus under Carolingian rule. The northern part of the present Hunsrück foreland belonged to the Trechirgau, the southern part to the Nahegau. The Trechirgau was managed by the so-called Bertholds, the Nahegau by the Emichones. The capital of the Trechirgau, Trigorium, was in Treis[8]

Middle Ages to French period[edit]

The Hundesrucha is mentioned for the first time in a 1074 deed from Ravengiersburg Abbey.[9]

In the Middle Ages, the Hunsrück was territorially fragmented between the counts Palatine of the Rhine, the archbishops of Trier, the counts of Sponheim and the successors of the Emichones (the Wildgraves, the Raugraves and the counts of Veldenz). There were also a number of smaller dominions.

In 1410 the Principality of Simmering emerged as a territory ruled by a side line of the counts Palatine. In the following years, Simmering became the most important residence of a noble family in the Hunsrück. Under Duke John II the town achieved supra-regional importance for a short time.

After the Thirty Years' War, Louis XIV of France made reunification demands on several principalities in the Palatinate, the Hunsrück and the Eifel. He had his troops invade and thus precipitated the Nine Years' War. In 1689 Kirchberg, Kastellaun, Simmering and the town and castle of Stromberg were set on fire. Then came the chaos of war, which led to the War of the Spanish Succession and which ended in 1713.

In the following years, trade and commerce grew. In the Hunsrück the first industry was set up by the families of Hauzeur, Pastert and Stumm. They ran mining, processing and ore smelting businesses. These, in turn, spurred the manufacture of implements for the house, farming and handicrafts: ovens, pans, boilers, weights, spades, nails, hammers, anvils, looms, spinning wheels and ammunition (cannonballs and shells weighing from 2 to 30 pounds). Leaders in the iron processing industry were the family of Stumm. Their progenitor, Christian Stumm, was a blacksmith in Rhaunensulzbach. Two of his sons were important entrepreneurs. Johann Nikolaus Stumm (1668-1743) was a smeltery owner and his sons, Johann Ferdinand, Friedrich Philipp and Christian Philipp Stumm, bought on 22 March 1806, the Neunkirchen ironworks, part of today's Saarstahl AG. Johann Michael Stumm (1683-1747) was the founder of a organ building workshop.

The notorious robbers, Johannes Bückler (known as Schinderhannes) and Johann Peter Petri (Black Peter) brought insecurity to the Hunsrück in the late 18th century.

In 1792, as a result of the French Revolution and the seizure of power by Napoleon, French troops once again invaded the territories west of the Rhine and annexed them during the French period. After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, most of the Hunsrück was reallocated at the Congress of Vienna to Prussia's Rhine Province. Parts of today's Birkenfeld and the northern Saarland belonged to the Oldenburg Principality of Birkenfeld until 1937.

Sights and attractions[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The German television drama trilogy Heimat, directed by Edgar Reitz, examined the 20th-century life of a small fictional village in the Hunsrück.

The electronic music festival Nature One is held at the Pydna missile base in Kastellaun.



  1. ^ Lexikon-Institut Bertelsmann: Das moderne Lexikon in zwanzig Bänden, Vol. 8 (1972)
  2. ^ "Hunsrück" article; in: Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon, Vol. 9. Leipzig, 1907.
  3. ^ Airport: Mopsfledermäuse machen Ärger; Focus Online, 2 June 2005; retrieved 19 May 2014
  4. ^ Wolfgang Welker: Die Eiszeitjäger von Armsheim (Rheinhessen) und Nußbaum (Nahetal); in: Schriften des Arbeitskreises Landes- und Volkskunde, Band 6; Koblenz, 2007; ISSN 1610-8132; pp. 1–13
  5. ^ Wolfgang Welker: Archäologische Fundmeldungen von ARRATA e. V. – Die Entdeckung des spätpaläolithischen Fundplatzes Boppard/Rhein; in: Abenteuer Archäologie, Issue 4, 2002; ISSN 1615-7125; pp. 49–51
  6. ^ Erste altsteinzeitliche Felskunst in Deutschland, Mitteilung des Ministeriums für Bildung, Wissenschaft, Weiterbildung und Kultur des Landes Rheinland-Pfalz.
  7. ^ Wolfgang Welker: Archäologische Fundmeldungen von ARRATA e. V. – Eine geflügelte Pfeilspitze; in: Abenteuer Archäologie, Issue 3, 2001; ISSN 1615-7125; p. 64
  8. ^ vgl. Josef Heinzelmann: Der Weg nach Trigorium …; in: Jahrbuch für westdeutsche Landesgeschichte 21 (1994), pp. 91–132
  9. ^ Cite error: The named reference MRhUb1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

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