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There are much evidence from the early Walser communities throughout the Swiss Alpine regions. Such as famous walking paths that originated from the Walsers as they travelled and moved their animals as part of their livelihood.
Who are the Walsers?
The Walser were colonists. They moved out of the Valais Rhone Valley in the region 14th and 15th Centuries around 700 years ago and were given special land management and grazing rights in the high altitude settlement areas. The Valais people themselves are not counted among the Walsers. Dr. Johannes Führer defined the group: "Walser is the name given to the inhabitants of the historic Walser settlements in the heights of the Alps, in which the language, culture, economy and historical awareness of the Walser were or are alive in the 20th century."
The long, snowy winters made these folk skilled in being able to store forage for their animals. The foundations of their barns were made from a wall built from unworked stones. A specific building style, the wooden ledgers of the stable and the round timber are connected in a log building, the walls are reinforced with stakes and tied to wooden cramps. Photo by Gloeggli in Gimmelwald.
Several Walser communities came to the Berner Oberland region and some preserved Walser wooden barn buildings can be seen in Gimmelwald and Mürren. Nowadays the barns remain mostly empty since modern farming mostly uses centralized large stables. An old and empty Walser barn in Safiental (GR) has been renovated and opened to the public with the support of a public trust, to show an example for perfect preservation.
As well as Gimmelwald and Mürren there were Walser settlements in Trachsellauenen (behind Stechelberg), ‘Ammerten’, (higher up above Trachsellauenen behind Stechelberg) and Walser farms in the Sefinental valley. Ammerton or Ammerten was a large settlement in the Ammertental behind Stechelberg. When and why this settlement was abandoned is unknown. It was mentioned in a choir manual from 1762 and Marc Théodore Bourrit from Geneva wrote in 1787: "Ammerten is still an almost lost home for people", and around the middle of the 19th century Peter Ober wrote “The village is no longer ". Perhaps the wave of emigration to the United States in the middle of the 18th century, included members of the Walser communities from the Berner Oberland region.
Photo below: “Rear Lauterbrunnen valley with Undri Ammerta and Obri Ammerta on the slope in the foreground to the left of the centre of the picture”
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