Alte Grenze Basel und Grossherzogtum Baden. Foto/Photo: TES.

The Border Stones of Switzerland

Switzerland is a country of mountains, cheese, chocolate, cowbells, and border stones. Thousands of border stones mark the countryside.

The history of the (small) cantons, their neighbouring countries, “Untertanengebiete”  and  “Zugewandte Orte” (allies of the Confederation), shows many border corrections. Untertanegebiete were occupied territories administered by the (predominantly) German-speaking Confederation or individual cantons.

Chevenez (canton of Jura)

For example, the Heimatmuseum in Reinach (Canton of Basel-Landschaft) exhibits border stones of the Canton of Basel and the area of the former Prince-Bishopric of Basel (999-1815). In 1831, the situation became even more complicated when Basel-Landschaft separated from the canton of Basel (Basel-Stadt).

In the municipality of Bettingen (canton of Basel-Stadt), dozens of border stones along a sandy path through and in the forest near the mountain of Chrischona mark the old border between the Grand Duchy of Baden (formally until 1918) and the canton of Basel. The stones have the yellow flag with the red line of Baden on one side and the black bishop’s staff of Basel on the other.

Image: Dreiländermuseum Lörrach

At the Saalhöhe (canton of Aargau), near the Fricktal, there are border stones of Aargau, Habsburg (until 1803), Bern (until 1798) and Basel-Landschaft (from 1831).

Chevenez. Photo: TES

On the hiking trail near Chevenez (canton of Jura), there are hundreds of border stones with the bear of Bern (until 1979) and the initials RF (République Française).

Each canton has put, moved or lost border stones over the centuries. However, the country’s external borders have been surprisingly stable since 1515, apart from losing the Italian territories in the Valtellina (Veltin). Napoleon added these Untertanengebiete to the new Republic of Cisalpina in 1798.

Heimatmuseum Reinach.

Mariastein (canton Solothurn)

Mariastein (kanton Solothurn)