Gotland, gryphons and granite

It’s low season here in Warnemünde but it’s still bustling with open shops and restaurants, a far cry from bleak and boarded up English resorts. I’m curious about who the bustlers are and what brings them here; I shall ask my contact in the tourist office or perhaps at the Neptune Hotel on the seafront when I get that far.

I’d planned to spend time on the seashore today but a raw chill kept me in the town, It seems very much to be a resort for Germans. Some information in English at museums but I have only found one book in English about Warnemünde, which makes me cringe because of its relentlessly chummy tone (this may be a matter of taste). It had some information about the Bailiff’s house, which I went to look at today. It’s just over the swing bridge, a remarkable old building, one of the oldest in the town with 1605 written on the wall, this being a replacement for an earlier mediaeval building, of which traces remain. Apart from the chortling of my guide, I was also irked by my having strode past the building a number of times without noticing it. I like to think that I have sharpened my architectural eye but my gaze is as inward as ever. The bailiff referred to was an official from Rostock, which has been in charge of Warnemünde from mediaeval times. I wanted to see the granite blocks in the wall that my guidebook assures me came from the island of Gotland and were used by the masons of the Danish king Menved to build a “palace” on the site, The Danes were powerful in the thirteenth century around the Baltic and ruled Gotland after the battle of Visby in 1361 though the king was Valdemar IV. I’m not sure where Menved fits in but the Danish connection seems not unreasonable. However, I am curious about the granite from Gotland as I’ve always understood Gotland to be mainly cretaceous in contrast to the Swedish mainland. The older rocks are there but very deep down below sea level and overlaid. Perhaps there are outcrops of older rocks. It’s a good question for me as I’ve wanted for a long time to know more about geology. I see from the net that they do sell slabs of something called Swedish granite from Gotland but these seem to be thin and mainly decorative.

I’m planning to visit Rostock tomorrow and will spend a few hours in the library to see what I can find out about the sources of the granite story. It need not be incorrect even if the granite was from elsewhere as it could well have been taken to/traded in  Gotland en route to Germany.

The old house also has the coat of arms of Rostock on its wall, two lions rampant and a gryphon (griffin) superimposed on the colours of Mecklenburg. According to sources on the net, a gryphon has the body, tail and back legs of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. A wyvern, on the other hand is a two-legged creature resembling a dragon with deadly breath that roamed the French countryside (and appears to have a special relationship with the English city of Leicester). I’ve yet to have any practical use for this information.

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