Castle Questenberg – The missing Daughter

This legend tells the story of the daughter of the knight Knut of Questenberg, how she was lost and eventually found.

© Vincent Eisfeld / nordhausen-wiki.de / CC-BY-SA-4.0.

About an hour from Roßlar in the mountains of the Harz region stood an old castle overlooking the village of Finsterberg, where during the 13th century the knight Knut resided. Knut had a beautiful daughter whom he loved dearly. Often, the girl could be found playing outside the castle, looking for flowers in the meadows or searching for birds’ nests in the forest. Her governess, too old to keep up with the young girl, usually waited at the castle gates. She was not worried as the girl always returned promptly when it was time to go inside. She was a good girl after all and could be relied upon. One day, however, the old governess waited and waited. Day turned to evening and night broke. Distressed, she returned to Knut and reported that the girl had not returned. Immediately the castle rose and all helped in the search for the girl, who was popular amongst those who knew here. But alas, to no avail. The girl could not be found and Knut was heartbroken. 

Picking flowers, the girl had lost track of time and moved further and further into the forest and finally was hopelessly lost. She continued on and eventually found the hut of a charcoal burner, a traditional profession of the area. Despite the late hour, the girl sat down at the threshold and started weaving a wreath of flowers. When the charcoal burner arrived back at his hut after a long day of work he found the girl asleep with the wreath on her head and pretty ribbons framing her face. Suddenly she woke and looked at him. The man was surprised. The soot had coloured his face dark and most people were scared of the rugged and rough man of the forest. The girl did not seem fearful though and even offered him the pretty wreath she had made. The man nodded and opened the hut for her to come in. When he asked for her name, she was unsure. Everyone had always called her ‘daughter’ or ‘girl’. Without her name the man was not able to return her to her father. The girl had no intention to return anyway as the flowers were far more interesting around the charcoal burner’s hut and it had spotted several bird’s nests it planned to explore the next day. And so the girl stayed with the man. During the day, he went to work and she went out to explore. In the evenings, he would cook for the two of them and she would help to keep the house clean. Both were content and happy with each others company, but slowly the girl started to miss her home and her father. 

After a few weeks the man had burned enough charcoal to be able to sell it and, as was the custom, the villagers of Finsterberg came to collect. When they saw the girl they celebrated for they recognised who she was. Overjoyed, they carried the girl on their shoulders and they took the flower wreaths the girl had made during her stay and put it on a long stick. The man also accompanied this group, which arrived singing and dancing at the castle. As they approached, the old governess jumped to her feet. She had waited day and night outside the gates should the girl return. Despite her years, she ran inside to report her safe return to Knut, who had retreated into his chambers and was barely a shadow of the man he was before. On receiving the news, he stormed out of the castle to receive his daughter and take her in his arms. The stick with the flowers was planted in the castle yard and the villagers danced all night. The charcoal burner was given a part of the forest as thanks for keeping the girl safe and his profession is still held in high regards today. The castle itself, Knut renamed ‘Questenberg’, after the flower ribbons on his daters wreath. 

Did you know there is another story linked to this castle? Read A Cauldron of Gold next

Thinking of visiting the region: click here

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