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The „Goiserer Lindwurm“

Since summer 2013 there has been a spectacular new attraction on the trail along the eastern shore of Lake Hallstatt. No work of art could be more suitably placed here – the Goisern „Lindworm“ is a spectacular sight.

The Austrian Railways needed to fell some trees in the area and a particular maple tree was cut back but never removed. Norbert Scheutz was owner of the tree, and after consultation with him, the tree was gratefully handed over to the parish council. And so work could begin on this wonderful new creation. Chain saw artist Rudolf Schinnerl, who had already been made known for his artistic talents at the Handicrafts and Pottery Market in Bad Goisern  set to work with his chain saw to create this beautiful work of art.

And now the Goisern Lindworm watches over walkers and cyclists on the Eastern Shore Trail. This summer it was one of the most photographed sights along the trail.

Mythology and genuine threat

According to European folklore, the lindworm (comes from „lint“ which means „glowing“) frequently appeared in the form of a monstrous snake or other gigantic figure. This mythological creature was  known to many other peoples too. He was the mythical embodiment of demonic powers. According to folklore, he holds back the fertile waters and must be killed so that the earth can evolve. The Goisern version of the lindworm also has connections with „water“ and „threat“. Yet this connection is not a mythical one, but a very real one.

Leo Reiter writes about the „Geology of the Goisern Valley“ in the book „Heimat Goisern“. He describes the area between Wurmstein and Sandling as a „disturbed landscape“, in that the geological structure of the area have caused numerous landslides, mudflows and even rock avalanches. It is little wonder, therefore, that in times of mudflow and flooding, people think back to this creature and tell us:

„A lindworm flooded the land with water, and now the king, the queen, their daughter and all the good people have drowned and been sunk“.
 
The legend has been inscribed on a plaque and is displayed in the local museum. The neighbourhood affected is today known as „Wurmstein“ as the lindworm was such a symbolic creature in the history of the Goisern area.  Known as „Lindy“ he is represented in local coats of arms, on a corner of the local parish building, and often as a local mascot. You will also find him on the curtain pole at tourist information in Bad Goisern.

The legend of King Goiseram

According to an old chronicle, there stood, in the time of the apostles, a mighty city called "Goisernburg". In its walls there were seven cloisters, sixteen churches and a residence for the bishop.

King Goiseram lived with his queen, four children and many servants, numerous knights and aristocrats up on the „Reichenstein“. He had a brother who was king of Greece and wanted to come to Goisernburg with Saint Peter and a large group of followers.
This was a healthy and fertile legend. The city was rich, and there were lots of precious metals to be found in the surrounding mountains. Fountains of healing waters bubbled from the ground, and beneath the Reichenstein there was a wealth of fertile pasture land. Quality wine was produced and life was good. Trade boomed and wealth increased continuously. Up in the castle there were always vibrant celebrations, and the local people became increasingly happy and were spoiled.

This nightly bawling and shrieking of the party guests annoyed the lindworm, who lived in the heart of the Reichenstein, so terribly. Out of sheer rage he ate a huge hole in the rock. The result was that so much water gushed forth from the hole that the entire city drowned and sank.

Even King Goiseram, his family and large crowd of followers living high up on the Reichenstein were killed. Ever since, this elevated community has been known as „Wurmstein“ and the little river that flows through Goisern is called the „Wurmbach“.
The lindworm is still part of the Goisern coat of arms today.

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