Gemeinde Bellwald (Kopie 1)


Gommervillage Bellwald

The history of the highest Gommervillage

The history of Bellwald (1563 m above sea level), the highest village in Gommer, cannot boast bishops and governors like Münster and Ernen. We do not even know about the "Bei" or "Bell" in the name. It is possible that "Fellwald" became Bellwald through a phonetic shift, as the forest had to be "felled" and cleared when the area was settled. It is said that there were times when it was the duty of every family to fell at least six trees a year in order to obtain the necessary cultivated land. The village's location on a hill would also be appropriate for "Bielwald", especially since a part of the village still bears the name "Biel", and old writings often refer to the Bellwalderberg. Whether it was once called "Fell" or "Biel", there is nothing to interpret from "Wald". According to legend, the people of Bellwald also came up short when it came to the forest, because in their timidity (hence the nickname "hares") they did not dare to push forward when the forest was distributed in Goms. As a consolation, the Lord God gave them the name Bellwald. But the Bellwalders did not let themselves be deprived of the sun and the wide panoramic view



Die Dörfer des Bellwalderberges

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.

Das Dorf

The main village Bellwald was named "Zblattun" in 1374. This name memorising still today for the village part "unner dr Blatte" this is underneath the church. The other neighbourhoods are called "üffem Platz, bim Brunne, üff dr Schlüecht, dr Biel, dr Geissfärrich, ds Mättelti, dSteirufena and Turre"

In the last few years a few more houses where created at the edge of the village, which are used to live in or for guests to make vacation.


Also by the hamlet Ried, were build many new houses in the last few years. Those new houses stifle the tiny old village auf der Krete. Those hamlet was living his highest point between 1630 and 1750, that was the time while the most houses were build.


The hamlet of Eggen, today the smallest of all, was still more important than Ried or Fürgangen around 1600. Today there are still four old houses there: "ds Hüeberhüs" from the 16th century, the large semi-detached house at the top of the hamlet from 1647/1723, the house next to the chapel from 1756 and an old house from the 16th century that was used as a barn for a long time, but was made habitable again in 1976. To the west of it, as the Hofstatt indicates, there was also another house. The old "Restihüs" was demolished in 1895. It stood below the large semi-detached house. The cellar walls of a house that disappeared at the beginning of the 20th century can still be seen to the west of the house next to the chapel towards Fieschertal. After the Second World War, the old bakehouse was also demolished.


The hamlet of Bodmen, formerly divided into Bodmen and auf der Halte, is said to have been an independent community until 1821. The village or Geteilschaft still owns forest on the "Gibelegge".

In 1896, eight buildings fell victim to the fire between the upper and lower Bodme, including three residential houses.




Fürgangen, first mentioned in 1293 as "Wrgangen" or "Wurgangen", was once under the rule of the Counts of Blandrate. Paul Bogner von Niederernen bought these lordship rights in 1444 and called himself "Judge of Fürgangen". After 1595, this jurisdiction is said to have passed to the Schiner family. It is unknown when the "free court" of Fürgangen was united with the Zenden court of Goms. The hamlet of Fürgangen, which belonged to the parish of Ernen until 1963, was largely destroyed by fire on 12 July 1887. The fire destroyed 18 houses, including two residential buildings, and claimed one life. The following year, the inn, stable and barn in Fürgangen also burnt down.

In the fire of 1887 in Fürgangen, according to the municipal accounts, the great "fire" was extinguished in the throats of the fire brigade with "11 litres of white wine, the litre at 80 cents; 11 litres at 1 Fr. and 2 1/2 litres of brandy at 2 Fr. the litre; 3 litres of red wine at 1 Fr.", plus bread for 10 Fr. against hunger. In general, fire has always been a feared enemy in the villages with their wooden houses built close to each other. That is why St. Agatha's Day (5 February) is still kept as a holiday according to the old tradition, as decided by our ancestors at the community meeting on 7 March 1909.

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