Frankenstein Etymology

Frankenstein means “the stone of the Franks”. Beginning around 500 A.D, the Franks took control of Gaule which was part of the Roman empire at that time. One of their their conquest was a Roman quarry in the vicinity of Darmstadt, Germany. A Knight called Arbogast Von Frankenstein is remembered as the earliest person known using this name. Later, in the thirteenth century, a castle was erected by the Baron von Frankenstein near the original site of the roman quarry.

A legend depicts the fight of Sir George Frankenstein in the sixteenth century. A carvings in the crypt where he is buried near the ruins depict him slaying a dragon under his feet. The dragon’s tail, nevertheless, pierces the knight’s armor, killing him. Before he died, however, he was able to save beautiful Annemarie, “The Rose of the Valley.” This beautiful legend includes all the classics of the dragon warrior myth.


Another legendary figure was Johann Konrad Dippel (1673-1734) who was born in the castle. He studied Paracelsus and lived his life searching for knowledge as a wandering scholar and alchemist. He would sometimes signs his works “Frankensteina,” and claimed to have the secret of the philosopher’s stone, as well as the ability to create life.

By the late eighteenth century the castle had fallen into ruin, but it remained a symbol among the Romantics. The great Goethe spent part of his youth near the Frankenstein Ruins and later read Faust in progress under the linden trees of the Frankenstein Ruins to a circle of friends.

Florescu in In Search of Frankenstein (1975) suggested that Shelley may have visited Castle Frankenstein during her trip down the Rhine, in the summer of 1814, with her husband Percy. If so, she probably heard local stories about the eighteenth-century alchemist Konrad Dippel who lived at Castle Frankenstein and was rumored to have carried out experiments with human body parts. We know that the couple stopped in Mannheim near the Frankenstein ruins but there are no evidences that she visited the place.

Other suggest that Benjamin Franklin, the father of electricity, is the “Frank” in Frankenstein.