The Mysterious Earthen Miracles of 822


In 822, a little under a decade after Louis the Pious (r. 814-840) became sole emperor of the Franks, something really strange occurred in his realm. The chroniclers of the Royal Frankish Annals wrote about the incident in their entry for the year 882. According to them, not only did unexplained earthen structures appear that year, but the mysterious creations were also found in multiple locations in the empire.

In the region of Thuringia, a peculiar ditch was found, measuring about fifty feet long and four feet wide. The dirt excavated from the spot had not traveled far; approximately twenty-five feet from the ditch was an elevated block of earth, and, like the ditch, it measured fifty feet long and four feet wide. The authorities, or at least the chroniclers, could not find any motives or suspects for the weird rectangle of soil.

The next incident occurred in Arendsee, near Magdeburg, in Frankish-controlled Saxony. There, an unordered earthen dam appeared on a local stream or river after just one mysterious night of work. No one in the region came forward to claim that they had worked on the project, leaving the chroniclers of the Royal Frankish Annals, and the royal court that they worked for, baffled by the structure’s sudden appearance.

Written by C. Keith Hansley.

Picture Attribution: (Louis the Pious (from BL Royal 16 G VI, f. 198v) on a soil background, both [Public Domain] via Creative Commons).


  • Carolingian Chronicles: Royal Frankish Annals and Nithard’s Histories, translated by Bernhard Scholz and Barbara Rogers. Ann Arbor Paperbacks / University of Michigan Press, 1972.

Leave a Reply