Freimarkung Osing

Freimarkung Osing is an astonishing cultural monument and unique in the agrarian history of the Middle Franconian Bocksbeutel Road region. The plots of land located along the prominent ridge near the villages of Herbolzheim, Humprechtsau, Krautostheim and Rüdisbronn have been managed collectively by an association of farmers for centuries. The oldest document we have is from 1587, and the land has been divided out between members by lottery at least since then.

274 hectares are shared by 162 rights holders. The lottery to divide out the plots of arable land is held at ten year intervals. Other rights, such as the hunting rights or the right to harvest fruit trees, are leased out by the rightsholders’ association.
For centuries now, the Osing land has been divided out in years ending with a 4, and the next lottery will be held in In 2024. It will follow the usual protocol of this long-established traditional ceremony.

Holy Roman Empress Cunigunde

Various legends narrate how the Freimarkung Osing came into existence. One has it that Saint Cunigunde, the wife of Holy Roman Emperor Henry II, got lost in the thick forest surrounding Herbolzheim, Humprechtsau, Krautostheim and Rüdisbronn. At night fell, she prayed to the Lord and finally heard church bells from all four villages ringing out and was able to regain her orientation. To show her gratitude to the four villages, she made them a present of the forest, but with the proviso that they were to swap their shares every ten years so good and poor harvests from the land would be shared around equitably.

To this day, a young woman from the Osing villages is elected Empress Cunigunde at two-yearly intervals. Tasked with standing in for the Empress of old, she is present at many events in the region.

Tip: The Osing museum

A museum where you can find out more about the Osing is located in the old schoolhouse in Herbolzheim. Visitors will find information about the origins and current running of the Freimarkung Osing agricultural association and about the rare flora and fauna found within the bounds of this unique piece of the region’s cultural heritage.

The Osing museum:
Herbolzheim
91478 Markt Nordheim
Germany

Guided tours and museum visits:
Phone +49 (0)9842 2978
Museum opening hours: available on request.

Tip: Follow the Osing path to the Cold Oak (“Kalte Eiche”)

The 8 km circular walking route “Osingweg” begins on the southern perimeter of Krautostheim and takes in the Osinghaus, the building where the Osing festival is held each August, as well as the Osing stone and the natural monument Cold Oak. This oak tree is named for its location on the “cold” northern side of the Osing ridge. The tree has been completely dead for several years now, but it plays a role in many a tale. Martin Luther is said to have rested here, and during the Third Reich, the tree was accorded mystic significance as a tree of the gods. What is definitively known about it, however, is that the lottery for dividing up the Osing fields at one point always began here, and that the tree, planted in the seventeenth century, counted as a border marking.

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