In his "Description du Departement du Simplon", Dr Hildebrand Schiner wrote in 1812: "Bellwald is in a truly beautiful location. Especially in summer it is a pleasure to look at it, for it is sweetly laid out on the mountain. The village is quite large and pretty and lies at the foot of a beautiful forest (belle forêt), from which it has evidently taken its name. It is next to a large glacier, but still some distance from it. In this seemingly wild area on the side of the glacier and at the foot of the forest, there are large and beautiful mats. The inhabitants are slender, lively and witty, and especially the fair sex has a beautiful complexion. There are no "cretins" or people with goitres. The behaviour of the inhabitants of this village is somehow peculiar to all Gommern; they are not exactly polite, but no less righteous for that."
When this sunny Bellwalderberg was settled is a mystery to us. It is hardly likely that the Stone Age people, of whom graves from the zth and 3rd millennium BC have been found in the Binn Valley, ventured up into the area of today's Bellwald. The people of the Bronze Age around 1000 BC and the Iron Age have also left no traces. No evidence has survived of the Celts and Romans, who were displaced by the Allemanni in the 8th and 9th centuries AD, except perhaps a few place names.
The individual settlements on the Bellwalderberg will probably have developed from single farms. The villages of Bellwald, Ried, Eggen, Bodmen and Fürgangen developed and still exist today. The hamlets of Nesselschlucht, Schlettern, Willera, Ze Fäle and Z'Mettje have died out and disappeared. Even of the former Stafel on Alpe Richinen, which looked like a real village with living huts and stables, only one building and the chapel remain. Everything else crumbled or was transported away. Two alpine huts were saved as museum pieces. The "Auswärtigen" hut and a stable are to be rebuilt in the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum near Brienz; the "Spittel" now stands in the village of Bellwald, where the bakehouse once was. No written documents could be found of the legendary Muttidorf and others.
Only a few stables and remains of walls still bear witness to these former residential settlements, which were abandoned in the course of time. The chapels of Nesselschlucht and Z'Mettjen have survived. The entries in the oldest baptismal register of the parish of Ernen give us an idea of the size and significance of hamlets that have disappeared or still exist today. It should be noted that from April 1615 to November 1617 the information is missing. Often the place name is also missing, and in the case of Bodmen it is not always clear whether it is Bodmen in Bellwald or near Blitzingen.
According to the baptismal register, at least 91 children were carried from Bellwald to Ernen for baptism between 1610 and 1620. Of these, six came from Schlettern, ten from Ried, 16 from Egge and 23 from Bodmen. Strangely enough, there are only two baptised children from Fürgangen, but very often the godparents came from this hamlet.