Oensingen, St. George. Foto/photo: TES.

The Romans, Alemanni and Swiss-Italians in Oensingen

The castle of Neu-Bechburg was built in the 11th and 12th centuries. The castle still defines the skyline of Oensingen.

More than one thousand years earlier, in the Roman period, this place was an important traffic junction.

The Great St. Bernhard pass was of great importance. Emperor Claudius (10 BC – 54 AD) made this mountain pass accessible in 43 AD as a  preparation for the invasion of England.

This road led from Aosta (Augusta Praetoria Salassorum) to Martigny (Forum Claudii Vallensium), via Avenches (Aventicum) and Oensingen (Roman name unknown) to Windisch (Vindonissa). Another road led from Oensingen via Langenbruck to Kaiseraugst (Augusta Raurica).

Oensingen was the largest Roman town after Olten and Solothurn (Salodurum) in the area of the present canton of Solothurn. In the vicinity of Oensingen, the remains of several Roman villas and many other archaeological objects have been found.

The Celts (the tribe of the Helvetians) and their predecessors already inhabited this area before the arrival of the Romans around 15 BC.

The name Oensingen has an Alemannic origin. The Alemanni immigrated to this area after the departure of the Romans around 410 AD,

The church of St. George, in the centre of the village, was probably built on the foundations of a Roman building, probably a temple.

The first mention of this church dates back to 968. Little else is known about the (early) medieval building history. Solothurn remained Catholic during the Reformation.

The present church was built in the middle of the sixteenth century. From 1643 to 1648 the church was rebuilt, and in 1773 Paolo Antonio Pasoli (1738-1804) applied the current architecture and (Baroque) decoration.

Paolo assisted his uncle Gaetano Matteo Pisoni (1713-1782) in the years 1763 – 1770 with the construction of the Cathedral St. Ursen in Solothurn. It explains the similarity and Italian influences.

The centre of the village and its beautiful houses from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries also show the prosperity and importance of this village in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.