November 23, 2008
2:00pm - 4:30pm
Burg Frankenstein is a hilltop castle about 5 km south of Darmstadt in Germany. As the name suggests, some believe the castle and its folklore have been influential upon Mary Shelley, though this theory lacks evidence.
The castle was built before 1250 by Konrad Reiz von Breuberg, who made it into a territory subject only to the Emperor and henceforth adopted the family name Frankenstein. In 1292 Count William II of Katzenelnbogen forced to open the castle. Although it was at one time a sizeable fortress, today only two towers and a chapel remain. Because of territorial and religious disputes between the Catholic Frankensteins and the Lutheran landFrankens of Hesse-Darmstadt, the family in 1662 eventually sold their possessions around the castle to the landFrankens and retired to their possessions in the Wetterau.
The German alchemist and natural philosopher Johann Conrad Dippel (1673-1734) was born and lived at Castle Frankenstein. He is known to have sometimes added 'Frankensteinensis' to his signature, indicating his birth place, not any relation to the Frankenstein family. The folklore of the region accuses him of body snatching, a crime not unknown amongst anatomists, and claims that he attempted to bring the dead to life, though how much these stories have been retro-actively influenced by the Frankenstein myths is hard to say. None of these legends can be proven to exist before Shelley's novel was released. Some are even anachronistic, such as the claim that Dippel was experimenting with Nitroglycerin. Nitroglycerin had not yet been discovered in Dippel's time. The castle's existence was first documented in 1252, and until 1662, the castle was owned by the von Frankenstein clan. Later, the castle was a military prison and a home for military invalids until it was deserted and forgotten after 1742.
The Shelleys were known to have travelled through the region on their way to visit Lord Byron in Geneva, where Mary Shelley would create her Magnum opus during a scary story telling session on a stormy night. Some believe that she must have visited the castle and heard the local folklore, but she actually passed by the castle at night and therefore would not have been able to see it. That the castle or Dippel influenced Shelley is speculation. There's no historical evidence that Shelley even knew of the historical nature of the castle or Dippel's activities.
Ghost Hunters International investigated the famous Castle Frankenstein in Germany with Destination: Truth's Josh Gates.
Reports of Paranormal activity include shadow people, full apparitions, and unexplained noises.
Digital cameras, Digital Voice Recorders, K2 Meter
Taken with digital cameras