A ghostly encounter in the Grund with the "Stierches-geescht"
The small medieval stone arch “Pont du Stierchen” footbridge next to the Abbaye de Neumunster in the Grund area of Luxembourg City was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.
The bridge is said to be the focal point for one of Luxembourg’s most terrifying and strangest ghosts: the Stierches-geescht. The ghost is said to haunt the old parts of Luxembourg City at night.
According to what has to be the weirdest ghostly myth of Luxembourg, the Stierches-geescht was a heavy drinker before his death and is therefore especially fond of scaring drunkards. It is claimed that he’ll sit on the shoulders of inebriated individuals, throw them to the ground and beat them up.
Sometimes he’ll appear as a bull, a wolf, a dog, a cat, a hare or even as a piglet. Some have claimed they’ve encountered the Stierches-geescht as an empty barrel and some as horse dung. On occasions the ghost will present himself as a giant holding a massive club with which he’ll beat unsuspecting drunks.
The myth claims that he would disturb parades and jump in front of horse carriages causing chaos in the City centre during the 17th century. At times, he prevented the monks of the “Abbaye de Neumünster” from calling for evening mass, by holding the bells or he would lie in the street preventing churchgoers from attending the service or leaving the abbey.
A long time ago an unlucky nightly farer on his way home from an evening at the Rham Plateau encountered the Stierches-geescht in the form of a barrel. The man saw the container floating down the Alzette-river and, thinking it was a bucket, he reached for it.
Suddenly, he felt something grabbing him. To his horror, it was the Stierches-geescht, now in the shape of a weird fluvial monster. The ghost put the man on a small narrow part of the “Bockfelsen”, where the poor fellow had to sit all night. Any movement would have caused the unfortunate man to fall off the cliff and face certain death. It wasn’t until the next day that the terrified (and, surely, slightly embarrassed) man could be saved.
In previous centuries the ghoul would run around on the Stierchen-bridge in the shape of a piglet. People would try to catch it, but whenever someone got close the pig would disappear and re-appear on the other side of the bridge. According to one legend, it was only when hunters gathered around in a closed circle and slowly tightened the circle, that the wild creature could be caught. A man carried the animal home in an apron, but when he wanted to show the creature to his family, the piglet vanished and in its place he found a heap of horse dung.
On another occasion, three women saw the Stierches-geescht posing as a grey cat on the Pfaffenthal-bridge. One of them tried to hit the animal by throwing a shoe. She missed the cat and her shoe fell into the Alzette-river only to be found on the Stierchen-bridge the next day. The myth doesn’t specify whether the three women had been drinking.
According to another legend, late one night an exhausted and somewhat intoxicated workman crossed the Pfaffenthal Bridge on his way home. As he approached, however, a gigantic dog barricaded the bridge over the Alzette. It rested its head on one side of the stone wall with its tail lying on the other side. The terrified worker gathered all his courage and crawled over the beast’s tail upon which he ran as fast as he could, only to discover that the monster was following him. The next day, the man was found badly beaten inside his home.
Even today, people on their way home from a night of drinking claim to have encountered the Stierches-geescht. Whether that is in fact true, or if alcohol might have a say in the appearance of a medieval ghost is uncertain. Nevertheless, it’s something to think about next time you go out and end up in the Grund.
Unfortunately Wort's photo archives don't seem to have any Grund ghostly pics, but if you've seen and photographed the Stierches-geescht, let us know. But then again,would you even admit it if you had?
By Line Eskildsen (first published 2011)