The legend of the well

The well diggers work endlessly but there is no water. It looks like this well is cursed.
At his wits end Baron Fleckenstein is persuaded to trust a strange character who promises amazing results.
To make sure, he goes to the bottom of the well, so low that he sees the flames of hell glowing. At the same time his new well­digger turns into a laughing devil.
The Baron does not panic but calls on God to help him and his servants haul him back to the surface. The devil disappears in a cloud of smoke. The chaplain purifies the well and annoints it with holy water.
All ends happily : the will is full of clear fresh water.

The Legend of the well according to François Gourcez*

For nearly a thousand years it has been a tradition in the Valley of the Sauer that Gottfried, the first Lord of the castle of Fleckenstein, ordered a well to be dug as soon as he took up occupation of the rock so as to be able to hold it against all comers.

After weeks of work and despite digging a hundred feet down, the well­diggers found no water.

The Emperor’s officer was in despair when one evening a man came to him and said to him »for ten gold ecus and your good will, my lord, I will find water ». His air of confidence impressed the Baron.

Although he found the man rather strange, Gottfried accepted the offer. The stranger set to work.

He went down into the dry well and soon the sound of his pickaxe echoed up hard at work. In the evening he climbed out of the well where Gottfried was waiting anxiously.

« So ? » he asked impatiently.

« Wait a bit my lord… «replied the man as calm as the baron was anxious.

The next day the man climbed into the basket that hung from a rope over the well and was once more lowered into it. The men who handled the rope measured two hundred coils of rope. Never before had such a deep well been so dry.

Another day passed during which the sound of the stranger’s pickaxe, working in the well, did not cease. Even so in the evening he announced that his work was still not finished.

Again the next morning he had himself lowered into to the deep hole hollowed out to the bottom of the great rock of Fleckenstein. The sound of his pick rang out all day without the smallest interuption.

All were amazed to see that he never needed to rest, either to eat or drink. How deep would he dig ? In the morning 300 coils of rope had been unwound.

Then as the sun was setting the noise of the pickaxe suddenly stopped. A deep voice asked that the basket be raised.

Gottfried’s men did as he asked and hoisted the stranger back to the surface.

« Is it finsished then?» asked Gottfried.

« Come with me and you will understand » was all the stranger replied, as calm as ever.

The ancestor of the Barons of Fleckenstein climbed into the basket alongside the strange well digger and ordered his men to lower away.

The wheel squealed under the weight as the two men disappeared into the depths of the hole.. Two hundred coils of rope had unwound when Gottfried felt a strange heat rising up from the bottom of the well.

« What ‘s that ? » he cried.

« Nothing or at least not much, my lord… Nothing or rather everything : the end of your problem and the water you are seeking if you come to an agreement with me. » replied the stranger in a voice full of mystery.

Suddenly, in the darkness, the baron could see two terrible eyes staring at him.

The basket was still descending and the heat from the bottom of the hole was rising.

« I want your soul, Gottfried, and you shall have all the water in the depths of the earth ! » cried the stranger in a voice from beyond the grave.

The Lord of the Fleckenstein shivered. The man next to him in the basket was no longer a man : horns had sprouted from his forehead, his eyes were coals of fire and his smile was even more satanic than Satan.


Gotfried understood at last. He crossed himself three times, which caused the Devil to frown horribly, for it was indeed he who had lured the ancestor of the Fleckensteins into the bowels of the earth.

The Baron then recited the Lord’s Prayer and once finished with a great shove he pushed his terrible companion out of the basket. His fall seemed to last a thousand years, accompanied by a terrible laugh that Gottfried would never forget.

Gathering his strength, the Baron called to his men, with more strength than Roland blowing on his horn at Rocevaux, for them to haul him up as quickly as they could. And no doubt he would have climbed the rope if his men, terrified by the frightful sounds, had not heaved with all their might to haul their master up.

When Gottfried reached the surface the sun was setting behind the mountains. He made the sign of the cross once more and then ordered all his men to fall on their knees with him and pray to God.

They did not understand but did as he told them and a pious prayer rose up to heaven.

At that moment a sound like thunder was heard from the bottom of the well and water rose up level with the top of the well.

So was dug the well of the castle of Fleckenstein, which is said to be more than a hundred metres deep and which was finished by its first Lord resisting the Evil One and invoking the name of God.

They say that even so the Devil huddled in the depths of the rock still laughs and anyone who leans too far over the edge of the well may hear that laughter again and suddenly be grabbed by devils… and so it has been for a thousand years.

Historical chronology

Incidents in the history of the castle of Fleckenstein