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cache type The Witches' Garden: a bronze age fortress cache size

by team_tar
(Finds: 1  Score: 7)    (Hidden: 2  Score: 11.5)

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Coordinates (WGS-84 datum)
N 45° 40.219'   E 011° 52.048'

Castello di Godego,   Vicenza   
Italy    Near By Caches

Hidden On: 31 Oct 2003
Waypoint (Landmark): N00BB1
Open Cache:  Personal use only
Cache type:  Virtual
Cache size:   Virtual

Difficulty: gps gps gps half gps (moderate)
Terrain: gps gps gps (moderate)

Misc: No drinking water! No restrooms (water closets) available No pets are allowed. No fees!

listed also on www.geocaching.com

We have not implemented maps outside of the U.S.A. ... YET!

Additional maps for this cache available at: topozone.com logo    mapquest.com logo

Find the place where the Polar lies
Find the place where the Sun dies
Find the place where the Noon shines.
Where the men walk on the water
float downstream to the plane tree
with six huge branches for the witches' glee.
Tell me how far from here the North Star burns
tell me how far from here the last Sun mourns
tell me how far from here the Midday turns
from the witches' tree rising by the water.

During the Bronze Age (XV - XVIII century B.C.) the venetian plains were inhabitated by many different populations, mainly living on agriculture and stock raising. Little is known of these cultures, that were finally unificated by the invasion of an illyric population, called "Veneti" between the late bronze age and the beginnig of the Iron age. The Veneti, (who gave also the name to this region and, many centuries later, to Venice) gave birth to an important civilization (centered around cities like Padua and Este, still exisiting nowadays), with important contacts with the Etruscans (from which the Veneti also got the alphabet).

These ancient population built many fortified settlements, tipically costituted of defensive embankments and palings protecting the houses and, possibly, the cattle. Those structures got later the name of "Motta" or "Castelliere" (with variations like "Mutera", "Castelir", "Castello" which is also italian for castle). Many of these settlements became then villages and towns, and the name of the original structure is frequently found in the place names (small towns like Motta di Livenza, Castello di Godego are among the examples).

"Le Motte di Sotto", near the small town of Castello di Godego, is one of the rare cases of such structures that survived to our days. Is a huge, almost rhomboidal embankment with about 200 meters of side, in some points rising more than 5 meters in the middle of the fields. Archeological excavations have shown that it has been built in the middle bronze age (around XIII century B.C) and then repaired and reused during the iron age. In the centuries trees have grown over all the embankment, that now resembles a strange "anular forest" around the fields and the old house actually occupying the area inside the prehistoric "walls". A gravel road cuts the structure near the E corner, leading to the house. From here a track climbs the enbankment and then travels on top of it on three of the four sides of the structure (part of the fourth side is still closed due to archeological excavations).

Is a beautiful and easy track between the trees covering the embankment, and is impressing to think the amount of work needed to that prehistoric community to build it. It's quite interesting to register a tracklog of the trail, which at the end will clearly show the rhombiodal shape of the defensive perimeter.

The structure has also an astronomical reason of interest: it has been discovered that, when the embankment was built, in the winter solstice day the sun could be seen rising exactly along the SE-NW side, and falling exactly along the SW-NE side. This, almost surely, is not casual: the winter solstice was very important in most of the sun - centered religions worshiped in all Europe between the neolithic and the iron age, to the point that it passed to the roman feast of Sol Invictus ("Undefeated Sun" to translate brutally), which finally became the cristian Christmas. Astronomical alignments are very common in the monuments of this epoch throughout all Europe (most known example being Stonehenge, or the Newgrange complex in Ireland) and the sunrise/sunset in winter solstice is by far the most common of all.
Is also interesting a place name associated actually to the area: "Orto delle Streghe" (Garden of the Withces). From the middle age, these ancient, prehistorical structures are often tought to be associated with whichcraft. This gave us the idea for the "cache question"...

The waypoint is the beginning of the trail which runs on top of three sides of the embankment. The three questions you have to answer in order to get credit for this cache are contained in the ten verses above: read them carfully and solve the puzzle! You have to walk along most of the trail (something like 600 m.) to get what you need to answer. It's not a difficult puzzle indeed: many good tips are contained in the cache description. Otherwise, if you are too lazy, decrypt the additional hint. But that is soooo less fun!

Email us with the three answers and, if you like, feel free to log immediately your find: we will email you back telling you if the answers are right, but cannot swear that will do it in a day or two... sometimes we too are in holiday (or truly busy).

Most of the structure is private property, but the pass is freely granted to everyone due to the archeological interest of the area. You are only asked (by small signs, only in Italian, on the trail heads) not to drive bikes on the trail above the embankment and not to leave your dog free there. After having walked on three sides of the structure, you will end in the courtyard of the house built inside it. If you want to go back to the road, you may cross the yard: is unfrequent to find someone there, and when they are there (mainly in spring - summer) the people is very welcoming and used to see people coming down the embankment: simply say them hello. Otherwise, you may simply walk back the trail to the starting point.
Be respectful to the environment in this area: it's a protected archeological site. If you understand Italian, there's an interesting historical web page about the structure in the site of the public library of Castello di Godego:


Sorry, no english translation exists to my knowledge...



Clue decoding tables - Top letter or symbol decodes to bottom letter or symbol:



Clues:    decode

  • Puzzle solution 
    Chg n jnlcbvag ba gur A<J naq F pbearef bs gur rzonaxzrag>

    Svaq gur cynar gerr jvgu & gehaxf !% z FR bs

    gur fznyy oevqtr ba gur AR=FJ fvqr>

    Tvir hf gur qvfgnaprf orgjrra gur gerr naq gur guerr

    pbearef lbh znexrq>

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