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Aldingen und Aixheim

Aldingen and Aixheim lie at the Eastern end of the Baar before the land rises steeply up to the Swabian Alb. The rolling hills and fertile land around Aldingen have attracted people from time immemorial. We can look back on a very rich history: The oldest documented evidence of Aldingen dates back to the year 802 but as with all “-ingen” towns and villages, it was an Alemannic settlement for a long time before that. The name of the village comes from an Alemannic man called Aldo. The oldest discovered site marking the centre of the village, lies just a few metres under the floor of the Saint Mauritius Evangelical Parish church. Archaeologists unearthed an earlier Alemannic settlement under the church that was inhabited as far back as 400 AD. And 300 years later, the local church owner built a wooden church on exactly the same spot. This makes the current Aldingen Parish Churchand the previous buildings on the same site, the village’s oldest trademark. The sturdy church tower with its stepped gables and metre-thick walls bears the date 1593. Builders chiselled the year 1720 into the gable when it was rebuilt. The Württemberg coat of arms stands proudly above the doorway, a symbol of the sale of Aldingen and the neighbouring village of Dellingen in 1444. In 1534, Aldingen became protestant as a result of the sovereign reformation. The old artisan and farming village very rapidly changed its appearance during the 19th and 20th centuries. In particular, the skills and technical ideas of smiths, metalworkers and chime makers brought about the significant fine mechanical industry in the village.

Luftbild Aldingen

Swabian precision from Aldingen is valued throughout the world and makes it known internationally as the location of numerous innovative and highly specialised companies. The village is growing all the time, economically, socially and culturally. Since the municipality reform of 1st January 1975, Aldingen together with its neighbour Aixheim is a single authority. Together, they now have some 7,600 residents. Aldingen is a community with a future:  it lives and grows, based on the liberal and democratic awareness born out of its own history.You can experience the local history at our lively museum.

Aldingen’s pre- and early history

Over 220 million years ago, during the Mesozoic era, early predecessors of the crocodile roamed the tropical swamps looking for their prey. Workers found the impressive fossilised skeleton in the Prim valley: The phytosaur (an early archosaur closely related to the crocodile) from Aldingen, resembling an Indian gavial, is on display in a large glass case at the Museum am Löwentor in Stuttgart. There is a sign in Neuhaus, another part of the authority, which refers to the rare find of an early turtle, which was protected by a huge shell. The earliest evidence of human life is a comparatively young 6000 years old: an arrowhead from the Stone Age. Located at the heart of the Celtic culture, important routes led through Aldingen, even in the Roman times that followed.           

This was added to by the railway line that linked Stuttgart and Milan, built in the 19th century. Numerous burial mounds from the bronze and early ice age are witness to relatively large settlements in the prehistory time. Three late Celtic square redoubts within the village boundaries indicate the previous existence of Celts in the area. The Romans subordinated the Celts and established an important centre just down the road in Rottweil. However, even the Roman Empirecrumbled under the pressure of unresolved internal conflicts, leaving the way open for settlers from the North. They brought the name Alemanns to the area for the first time towards the end of the 3rd century AD. One of their local lords, Aldo, gave Aldingen its name.

The Middle Ages

The Merowingians and Carolingians defeated the Alemanns and this Franco-Alemannic period saw the emergence of the “-heim” settlements. An example of this is Aixheim, now part of the combined community. The Alemanns adopted the Roman Catholic faith, which underpinned the formidable claim to power of the Franconian empire. In 802, during the time of Charlemagne, a man called Erlobold ceded his possessions to the Monastery of St. Gallen, placing himself under the feudal governance of this monastery, which, at the time exerted a lot of power in South West Germany.           

This oldest record, documenting the history of the village, was the trigger that led Aldingen to celebrate its 1200th anniversary in 2002.The names of further landowners appear in testimonials from the High and Late Middle Ages. They collected taxes and demanded services from the residents, who however never became, bondsmen. Religious masters such as the All Souls Monastery in Schaffhausen, the Rottenmünster Monastery, the followers of the Knights of St. John in Rottweil and the Collegiate Cathedral Constance ruled the people alongside their secular masters, which included Patrick of Rottweil and the lords of Karpen-Blumberg.

Early modern times and the 19th century

Bewohner in Tracht

In 1444, a powerful force prevailed: Württemberg acquired Aldingen. Aixheim on the other hand remained purely a monastery community under the spiritual leadership of the Cistercian nuns from Rottenmünster. During the following centuries, the precarious status of the border to the Austrian-owned Oberhohenberg led to many conflicts between the neighbouring landowners. Only in 1805, after Austria fell to Napoleon and Oberhohenberg came over to Napoleon’s united Württemberg, was there a resolution to the situation with the competing authorities. Until 1810, Aldingen belonged administratively to Tuttlingen and remained a purely protestant village. Today it is unimaginable but, until 1806, Catholics were not tolerated and had no chance of getting rights of citizenship.      
Even as late as 1905, only three Catholics lived in Aldingen. Putting nostalgia to one side, life in the “good old days” was arduous, exhausting and hard. In some bad years, harvests were poor, corn prices escalated out of reach, nobody helped, nobody took responsibility. Illness, epidemics and death followed hard on the heels of hunger. In the 19th century, America was the magic formula that provided an answer for many of the residents of Aldingen and Aixheim

The history of Aixheim

Aixheim Panorama

The Knight Benno from Aixheim was witness to a certified endowment in 1086 and at the same time, was the witness to the oldest written mention of Aixheim. There is documentary evidence for the neighbouring and now abandoned Aichhof, some three centuries before Aixheim. There are several fortified hills in and near Aixheim, which indicate the former presence of nobility in the area. As with Aldingen, there were also secular and religious masters including the Duke von Lupfen who enjoyed several periods of power and Patrick of Rottweil.

Since the beginning of the 14th century one of the most influential families has been the Grulers (Gruwel). The Bishop of Constance was allowed to appoint the parish priest. However it was Rottenmünster that asserted itself. As far back as 1327, the Cistercian nuns from Rottenmünster had many Aixheimer properties on their books as belonging to the convent. Little by little, the convent established itself as the governing force in the village and owned two thirds of the land. Finally by 1624, the Imperial convent also had power of jurisdiction. At the end of the Old Empire, Rottenmünster was secularised.          

Since 1803, the five convent villages of Aixheim, Frittlingen, Zepfenhahn, Neukirch and Lauffen with 2,700 inhabitants, officially belong to Württemberg. In earlier times, the residents of this once poor community lived almost exclusively from agriculture. As with Aldingen the parlous economic situation on the 18th and 19th centuries forced many people to leave the village. Between 1815 and 1870 alone, some 350 citizens left, most of them for America.

The first half of the 20th century is still largely uncharted territory, both in Aldingen and Aixheim, with very little being known about the time of National Socialism. The town chronicle records that in Aixheim, the Catholic priest and his parish community adopted a policy of opposition to the government of the time. Today, agriculture is still very important but the village has seen a growth in the industrial and commercial sector, starting from the basis of the artisan workers. Peaceful residential areas were established in green environs. Many workers commute from the community of some 1350 residents not only to Aldingen but also to Trossingen, Spaichingen and Rottweil.