Hollow Stone (Kallenhardt)

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General view of the Hohler Stein culture cave in the Lörmeckal valley

The Hohle Stein in the Kallenhardt district of the North Rhine-Westphalian municipality of Rüthen is a large cultural cave that has produced archaeological finds from the end of the Paleolithic to the pre-Roman Iron Age . The Hohle Stein is located in the nature conservation and FFH area Lörmecketal , in which - only a few hundred meters away - is the rock formation Hoher Stein .

Creation of the cave

350 million years ago, in the Middle Devonian Age , thick limestone layers formed in the Devonian Sea around Warstein, a reef made from the remains of dead marine animals. At the southern edge of the southern of the two large limestone trains of the Warsteiner Saddle lies the Hohle Stein. In the following geological ages, the mighty limestone bank was folded and fissured as a result of earth shifts and mountain-forming processes. Smaller of these resulting crevices were filled with calcareous sediments over time. To the south of the Hohlen Stein lie the so-called Arnsberg layers, which were formed around 270 million years ago in the geological age of the Upper Carboniferous . At the foot of the hollow stone, the carbonated water of the Lörmecke meets the mass limestone . On the one hand, the hard limestone offers resistance to the water - the Lörmecke changes direction in the vicinity of the hollow stone - on the other hand, the acidic water slowly dissolves the limestone, and so numerous caves could form in the Lörmeckal over time . The connection between tectonics and cave formation can be shown particularly well using the example of the hollow stone . The shape of the cavity is clearly determined by the fracturing and stratification of the rock.

Location and research history

View from the Hohler Stein culture
cave in the Lörmecketal

The large hall of the hollow stone has a maximum length of about 30 m, the maximum width is about 20 m. In addition, a side corridor starts in the south of the hall, which emerges after about 12 m. Today the southern entrance is about 3 m, the cave portal in the west about 8 m above the normal water level of the Lörmecke . The cave remains completely dry even during floods. In the 19th century the large "main entrance", which is so conspicuous today, was almost completely overturned, shortly after 1800 it was still described as "moderately large" ", later it appears to have been completely closed. The resulting debris pile was destroyed in the 1980s Mined in the 19th century to extract material for road construction and lime.

Between 1928 and 1934 the primary school principal E. Henneböle (Rüthen) and the geologist Julius Andree (University of Münster, later an important representative of Nazi archeology) carried out excavations in the Hohlen Stein. Only then did the cave hall reach its impressive size today. Before the approximately 1500 cubic meters of sediment was cleared out, the hall was only a few places higher than approximately 3 m. The previous excavations in the cave were anything but professional from a modern point of view, so that numerous important archaeological findings were completely destroyed. It is to be expected that in the area of ​​the forecourt of the cave there are still untouched archaeological finds.

Archaeological finds

Large entrance to the Hohler Stein culture
cave in the Lörmecketal

During the excavations in the cave, (at least) two different phases of use were found, which showed up as separate cultural layers.

The older sediment package in the Hollow Stone apparently belongs to several phases of use during the end of the Paleolithic around 12,500 years ago in the Younger Dryas period . The stone tools found in the hollow stone belong to the so-called handle tip group. A search in the excavation finds revealed bone and antler tools, remains of the hunted prey, especially reindeer , and much more. Despite the extensive destruction of findings caused by the excavations, the Hohle Stein is an important site from the late Paleolithic in Germany. In addition to the leaf cave in Hagen and the Balver cave in the Hönnetal , the cave stone is one of the most important archaeological find caves in North Rhine-Westphalia .

In the upper part of the cave sediments, numerous relics from the pre-Roman Iron Age (approx. 750 BC to the turn of the century) were discovered: broken ceramics , fibulae , jewelry , spindle whorls , human skeletal remains. Individual ceramic remains come from the migration period . It is interesting in this context that some iron smelting sites have been found about one kilometer upstream. Fragments found at this site may suggest that the ovens and the cave in the hollow stone were used at the same time, but this cannot be clarified due to the inadequate excavation documentation. A large number of archaeological finds from the hollow stone are exhibited in the district home museum in Lippstadt .

For the interpretation of the Paleolithic finds

Small entrance to the "Hohler Stein" culture cave in the Lörmeckal valley

During the construction of a clarifier near Rüthen in the Möhnetal , a layer of peat around 1 m thick was found under about 2 m of floodplain clay . In examining the preserved in peat pollen was found that the lower layer of peat dates from about the same time as the Stone Age remains from the Hohlenstein, the younger Dryas - and Parktundrenzeit (or about 9,000 to 8,000 v. Chr.). The pollen found provides information about the climate and landscape of that time. Only a few tree pollen were detected ( willow , birch , pine ), mainly non-tree pollen. At average temperatures, which were about 6 ° C below today's, a tree-poor tundra had developed. The various excavations around the Hohlen Stein in the first decades of the 20th century produced a large number of end-Paleolithic finds. This culture is called the Ahrensburg culture after the most important site . The typical tool is the tip of the handle .

In addition to around 1500 stone tools , individual bone tools, there were mainly animal bones, mainly from reindeer , and bones from woolly rhinoceros , (cave) bears , ice fox , ptarmigan and other representatives of the Ice Age animal world. These bones did not enter the cave at the same time. The remains of reindeer, ptarmigan and arctic fox are certainly at the same time as the tools from the Ahrensburg find layer. The findings of the hollow stone are of clearly supra-regional importance.

The cave stone is one of the most important finds of the Ahrensburg culture in the entire low mountain range (next to the Kartstein and Remouchamps cave stations ). In 1996, M. Baales presented an extensive dissertation in which he describes the "Environment and hunting economy of the Ahrensburg reindeer hunters". The reindeer hunters of the end of the Paleolithic Age did not "follow" the herds - as can often be read to this day - reindeer herds are much too fast for that. Instead, they went ahead of the herds, lurking in narrow passages and passes. This so-called "head'em off at the pass" technique was observed in recent reindeer hunter tribes in North America, then transferred to well-known Palaeolithic find complexes. This was the only way to understand previously inexplicable findings, for example the large amounts of tiny bone fragments that were often found. The bones were finely crushed and boiled with water so that the fat contained in the bones could be loosened and skimmed off. This bone fat was the crucial reserve in times when hunting was not possible.

It can no longer be clarified whether such tiny fragments were also found in the hollow stone, as they may have been lost during the less professional excavation. The reindeer migrated in spring from the winter in the lowlands to the summer in the low mountain range. According to M. Baales' thesis, they were already expected by the Ahrensburg reindeer hunters at bottlenecks on these hikes. They had obviously used the time before the arrival of the reindeer to produce tools and hunting weapons in large numbers. The particularly suitable flint was brought in from a distance of at least 10 km. In spring, a herd of reindeer migrated south from the Haar , crossed the Möhne and used the wide Glenne valley to penetrate deeper into the Arnsberg Forest. It is possible that the reindeer hunters had blocked the Glennetal with a barrier at the confluence of the Glenne and Lörmecke rivers to ensure that the whole herd passed the Hohlen Stein. However, several large and small surface sites are known from the South Westphalian mountainous region, which were also visited by people from the end-Paleolithic stem tip group.

At the narrow point just below the Hohlen Stein, at least 14 - but probably considerably more - reindeer could be killed in a short time. The animals were dissected and the bones were opened to obtain marrow. After such a supply of food and tools had been created, the hunters perhaps moved to other bottlenecks in the vicinity ( Eppenloch , Bilsteinhöhle ), or also to the south, in order to be able to continue to hunt individual reindeer in the summer reindeer settlements. These hunters only used dogs as pack animals and draft animals. A dog has been proven for the Kartstein cave station with some certainty, a single tooth from the cave stone could possibly also come from a dog, but more likely from a wolf . Numerous thin antlers of female or not yet fully grown reindeer that do not show any signs of processing were found in the hollow stone. Such finds also occur in Eppenloch and at other sites in Westphalia, for example in the Oeger cave in Hagen- Hohenlimburg , and beyond. It does not have to be ritual dumping, as local researchers have claimed, but also the remains of hyena burrows. Hyenas drag antlers and bones into their living quarters to gnaw and eat.

The hollow stone in the pre-Roman Iron Age

1982 checked Hartmut Polenz the cave finds the Sauerland to the possibility of cultic interpretation: "The indicated phenomena can be no other conclusion than that we do - and this is probably true but for all - in the here discussed caves during the pre-Roman Iron Age with places of worship to have to do. ”One of the caves discussed was the hollow stone. In his dissertation on "The meaning of the Iron Age cave finds in the Hönnetal", Wilhelm Bleicher clearly advocates a cultic use of the cave. As usual with him, he quickly inferred from modern legends about Iron Age practices. However, such theses are viewed somewhat more critically in modern archaeological research, since caves are viewed as “multifunctional places”. With the end of the Bronze Age , in which the inhabitants of the Sauerland were still completely dependent on imported metal, with the advent of the new material iron , there were profound changes in the Sauerland . The previously sparsely populated mountainous regions became interesting because of their rich ore deposits . The smelting furnaces ( Rennöfen ) excavated in the Lörmecketal may come from this time, but that is not certain. Various individual finds indicate relationships with the Southeast European area, with the heartland of the Hallstatt culture . In "Layer IV" of the Hohlen Stein there were human and animal skeletal remains, jewelry and costume components, ceramics, spindle whorls - the usual spectrum of Westphalian cave finds from the pre-Roman Iron Age. The still widespread interpretation as a place of fertility rites with human sacrifices and cannibalism can probably be put aside, since here there are more indications of a place of secondary burial with ancestral and dead rites. The reference by W. Bleicher, which refers to the shaft-like character of the cave, must certainly be taken seriously. It is possible that skeletal remains, grave goods and / or offerings were actually thrown from the higher parts of the cave into the lower parts. The layer description by Henneböle / Andree suggests this impression.

Sagas, legends and myths

In his theses on the Nibelungen saga , Heinz Ritter-Schaumburg suggested that one of the dead could have been “King Attila” von Soest from the Thidreksaga . However, these speculations have no scientific basis. Even in historical times - up to modern times - the Cave Stone was inhabited or used by people. In 1590 a shepherd from the nearby Körtlinghausen Castle fled with his herd from wolves in the cave. At the beginning of the 17th century the cave even housed a forgery workshop. In 1813 the Hohle Stein served a saddler and Riemenschneider called Föhring who had moved in as a workshop and emergency accommodation before he received permission to settle in the town of Kallenhardt. The memory of this Föhring may well form the background of a little cave legend:

“In grandmother's time the cave was not very comfortable. The soul of a man named Röing, who lived some time ago and died a violent death, was banished to the Hollow Stone. Since then his soul has been there. One evening someone who was overbearing dared to say: 'Röing, kumm mol heriut!' Then it started to rumble in the cave. With a thunder-like crash, heavy boulders tumbled down the rock, one of them right in front of Benz Mühle. All the people in the mill made the sign of the cross in shock. The big and otherwise cheeky wolfhound crept into a corner whimpering. The challenger did not dare to go home that evening and asked to be allowed to stay in the mill overnight. "(After Henneböle, 1963)

See also

Reading list

To geology

  • Claus-Dieter Clausen, Klaus Leuteritz: Geological map of North Rhine-Westphalia 1: 25,000, explanations for sheet 4516 Warstein. Krefeld 1984
  • Peter Meiburg, Dieter Stoffels: The caves in the Warsteiner mass limestone. In: Peter Meiburg (ed.): Geology and mineralogy of the Warsteiner area. Pp. 143-178.
  • Andreas Ritzel: The geological structure and surface design of the Lippstadt district. Lippstadt 1972.

Excavation reports and "old literature"

  • Julius Andree: Mesolithic finds from the Hohlen Stein near Callenhardt i. W. (excavation 1933). In: From prehistory in Rhineland, Lippe and Westphalia  2 (1934/35), pp. 129-136.
  • Franz Breitholz, Julius Andree: Iron melting furnaces from pre-Christian times in Loermecketal near Callenhardt i. W. In: From prehistoric times in Westphalia, Lippe and on the Niederrhein 1 (1933), pp. 37-42.
  • Eberhard Henneböle : Paleolithic finds in the Lürmecketal. In: Mannus 20 (1928), pp. 162-171.
  • Eberhard Henneböle: Paleolithic finds in the Lürmecketal II. In: Mannus 21 (1929), pp. 220–232.
  • Eberhard Henneböle, Julius Andree: Preliminary report on the excavations in the Hohlen Stein 1933 . In: From the prehistory in Rhineland, Lippe and Westphalia  1 (1933/34), pp. 49–54.
  • Eberhard Henneböle: New finds from the "Hohlen Stein" near Kallenhardt. Excavation 1934. In: From prehistory in Rhineland, Lippe and Westphalia  3 (1936), pp. 41–47.
  • Eberhard Henneböle: The prehistory and early history of the Lippstadt district . Lippstadt 1952 (= contributions to local history of the Lippstadt district and its immediate surroundings, issue 4).
  • Eberhard Henneböle: A visit to the Hohlen Stein in 1824 . In: Lippstädter Heimatblätter 40 (1959), pp. 125–126.
  • Eberhard Henneböle: The prehistory and early history of the Warsteiner area . Warstein 1963 (= contributions to Warsteiner history, vol. 2).
  • Karl Kennepohl: A forging workshop in the "Hohlen Stein" near Callenhardt . In: From the prehistory in Rhineland, Lippe and Westphalia  1 (1933/34), pp. 233-235.
  • Hermann Schwabedissen : The Middle Stone Age in western northern Germany. With special attention to the flint tools. Neumünster 1944.
  • Hermann Schwabedissen: The penknife groups of the north-western European lowlands. To the expansion of the late Magdalenian. Neumünster 1954.

Significance of the end-Paleolithic finds

  • Ancient and Middle Stone Age sites in Westphalia. Edited by Klaus Günther. Münster 1988 (= introduction to the prehistory and early history of Westphalia, vol. 6).
  • Michael Baales: Environment and hunting economy of the Ahrensburg reindeer hunters in the low mountain range . Mainz 1996.
  • Wolfgang Taute: The stem tip groups in northern Central Europe. A contribution to the knowledge of the late Paleolithic. Cologne 1968.

Significance of the Iron Age finds

(Attention: completely outdated!)

  • Wilhelm Bleicher: The meaning of the Iron Age cave finds of the Hönnetal. A contribution to the prehistory and early history of the northern Sauerland. Altena 1991 (= Altenaer Articles, Vol. 19).
  • Caves. Residential and cult places of early humans in the Sauerland. Edited by the Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe, Westphalian Museum Office. Munster 1991.
  • Hartmut Polenz: Considerations on the use of Westphalian caves during the pre-Roman Iron Age. In: Karst and Höhle , 1982/83, pp. 117-120.

Web links

Commons : Hohler Stein  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 51 ° 26 ′ 11 "  N , 8 ° 24 ′ 10"  E