1111Dwelling from Blatten, Valais

The dwelling dating back to 1568 is one of the last to exhibit all the typical features of Lötschental medieval houses.

Icon Museumsplan Nr. 1111 Wohnhaus aus Blatten VS

House from the Middle Ages

The last occupant of this house was Josef Ebener (1900–1976). As an elderly man he permitted only certain villagers well known to him to enter his home. Yet the reclusive unmarried mountain farmer was a well-read citizen and even wrote stage plays. The house, too, is unusual: among a number of houses of the 15th and 16th centuries it is one of the first in the Lötschen valley to bear an inscription in Arabic numerals as we write them today – the number 1568 is carved into the "Binda", the carrying timber for the parlour ceiling. Since that time, practically all houses in the valley bear the date and the name of the builder on the outer ceiling joist, even into the 20th century.

Until recently, we knew only that houses of this type were rather old or we estimated them to be from the 16th century. Dendrochronological investigations by the Swiss Farmhouse Research Institute in 2004–2007 revealed that there were more than thirty such houses in the Lötschen valley and dated some to the period of 1410–1530. Both the age and the quantity were a surprise.

Im Freilichtmuseum Ballenberg im Wohnhaus aus Blatten VS wird das Handwerk Weben gezeigt.

Characteristics in Common

The 1568 house is one of the last to exhibit all of the typical features of such medieval houses:

  1. Ceiling joists running at right angles to the ridgepole.
  2. A coping passing over the door on the rear wall of the parlour.
  3. A special form of decorative frieze carved in wood: a furrowed frieze on the outer wall passing beneath the windows and having coved corners.
  4. Old window jambs showing, next to enlarged window openings, the format of earlier windows: about 50 by 30 centimetres (20 inches by 12) – similar to the house from Malvaglia (821).
  5. Irregular protrusion of the beam ends of morticed block construction.

Late medieval alpine dwelling houses can be recognized by these characteristics even when there are no dates on the building. All of these features are present on the Blatten house.

Im Freilichtmuseum Ballenberg werden lehrreiche Führungen angeboten. Hier steht das Wohnhaus aus Blatten VS im Fokus.


Eight old dwelling houses dated between 1176 and 1341 are known in Central Switzerland. They were built by a political and economic upper class. One of these houses, the house of 1336 from Canton Schwyz (751) is here in Ballenberg. In contrast to these buildings, the Lötschen valley houses are 100 to 200 years younger. They comprise a cellar, a living floor with parlour and open hearth kitchen and rooms on an upper floor. They are modest dwellings for a population of small mountain farmers. Today the dimensions and details of the houses betray neither riches nor social differentiation. That was perhaps formerly revealed by other indicators such as possession of livestock or real estate.

Spannende Märchen, Sagen und Klangdokumente aus verschiedenen Regionen der Schweiz, jeweils in der entsprechenden Mundart, wollen auf dem Ballenberg entdeckt werden.

Swiss Open-Air Museum

Museumsstrasse 100
CH-3858 Hofstetten bei Brienz

+41 33 952 10 30

Opening hours

11 April to 27 October 2024
10 am to 5 pm daily

Follow us
QR scan