Research hike – Impressive border experience around the Basel area – News


Nobody knows the borders of the canton of Basel-Landschaft like Patrick Reimann: he has documented all 1235 border stones.

It all started with a joke: Stefan Reimann asked his brother Patrick, as a canton surveyor from Basel, whether he actually knew the borders of his canton. This joke turned into a scientific adventure: In 2020, the two set out to walk the entire canton border as precisely as possible over 232 kilometers and 1,200 meters in altitude. The last section from Augst to Basel St. Jakob will follow in mid-July.


Patrick Reimann on the Bruderholz plateau – the Baselbiet canton border does not always run over such easily accessible and flat terrain as there does with Basel-Stadt.

SRF / Marcello Capitelli

The two of them needed 27 hiking days within three years, with more than half of the exact limits running through undergrowth and over steep slopes. The only thing they did without was climbing and abseiling from rocks and swimming in the middle of the Rhine.

The result of this trip into the history of the canton is a careful documentation of all boundary stones from four centuries that are still in existence today; the oldest of these is from 1626. Patrick Reimann estimates that around 1,700 of the more than 2,000 border points in the canton of Basel-Landschaft were originally physically marked. He has now found 1233 markings in the field, and the last two are to follow.

First canton surveyor to walk his entire border

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On his adventurous border hike, Patrick Reimann was inspired by the neighboring cantons of Solothurn and Aargau, which have also recently documented their entire length of border. However, their surveyors were also on the road by car. He is probably the first Swiss canton surveyor who personally completed this check on foot and documented all existing boundary stones according to scientific criteria.

Not all Swiss cantons would have recorded their borders so precisely. Incidentally, his own research hike remained purely voluntary, a leisure project out of enthusiasm and without cantonal funds. He was also considering a publication about it – how and when is still open.

The Basel area borders on Germany to the north on the Rhine and on France to the west in the Leimental, as well as on the cantons of Aargau, Basel-Stadt, Jura and Solothurn.

Not all boundary points would be marked; in bodies of water, for example, this is often not done, explains Reimann. Other stones have probably disappeared under the ground over time. However, at least one boundary stone was stolen: there are photos of a stone from 1761 in the Lützel valley, but it is no longer there.

At some border points, the topography makes it unnecessary to put a hewn stone in the ground: in the Laufental village of Röschenz, for example, the then current coats of arms of the canton of Solothurn and the Prince-Bishopric of Basel were carved seven meters above the ground into a natural limestone wall – around 20 such rock markings can still be found today. Quite different on the Rhine: a border point in Augst is marked with a bolt in a pillar of the power plant.

sandstone, limestone and granite

He took with him from this border inspection “a humility that everything that was achieved in these 400 years still counts and is visible today.” Some stones have distinctive or historical names, such as the Galgenstein on Gempen Hill. He has remarkable things in his documentation detained.

A unique feature is a boundary stone in the municipality of Wahlen near Laufen: although it was only set in 2004, ten years after the canton of Laufental changed to Baselbiet, the Bernese coat of arms is engraved on one side. In view of the not very precise relief, Reimann has the suspicion that this could be a subsequent intervention by the people of Laufental, who were loyal to Bern. This quasi-falsified boundary stone will also be left as it is.

I am humbled by what has been achieved in these 400 years.

The two youngest boundary stones in Basel are from 2010 and stand on the border with the canton of Jura. In addition to the red seven-pointed Basler staff, the Jura coat of arms was carved into it – for the Jura this was the first time since the canton was founded in 1979.

To ensure that no one secretly moved boundary stones, unmistakable potsherds were buried under them as “witnesses” to be on the safe side, as a reference in boundary disputes. The work was very precise: when the authorities repositioned a half-sunken 400-kilo boundary stone on the Bruderholz in 2021, they found a deviation of just seven millimeters between the corner point on the stone from 1875 and the “witness” one and a half meters below firmly.

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