It should be 68 meters high, the Isterberg. In the area of Nordhorn and Bad Bentheim it is practically within call of the Dutch borders. Only two hours by car from me I visited the "Isterberger cliffs", which according to archaeological findings left traces of civilization at least 8,000 years ago. I planned this trip spontaneously and consciously did not take any theoretical knowledge with me, which is not always recommended. On the other hand, I also like to get my own impressions and then compare them with the explanations, experiences and notes of other people... knowing well that I am annoyed by what is omitted or unnoticed or feel obliged or motivated to go there again later.
The cliffs of the Isterberg, which are hidden in the forest, are, as so often, not signposted. A circular path leads around the area of the Isterberg, which, however, after approx. 1-2 km through fallen trees and subsequent continuation in the deep mud spontaneously forces you to turn back. These are the moments when you wonder whether it's better to go home right away or to have a coffee in nearby Bentheim.
Without a detailed geographical instruction or map I then cross-country into the forest along a footpath, which offered further alternatives to the right or left at short notice, of course without further signposting or hiking signs.
At some point I was glad to find a rock, but in my opinion it seemed to have nothing to do with the "cliff" complex there.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
It was, as I quickly found out, a rock that was possibly (or probably?) used for sacrificial purposes. The rock can be climbed easily accessible and one stumbles practically on two meters height directly over a "sacrificial tub", which is "cut out" there. The almost rectangular design with gutter is unmistakable for every visitor. Further coarse furrow-like working traces of the rock are directly (left) at the edge of the basin.
The sacrificial ponds with (approx. 10 cm depth) - if it is something like that at all ha
I found 4 almost parallel beads pointing up and down. At the rise, the rock looks as if it had emerged over three parallel aisles over the millennia or if it had been made accessible by heavy equipment.
Further processing traces in or on the sacrificing rock can be found there in large numbers. Who left them there and whether they can be assigned to the conspicuous traces of ritual remains unclear. .
Continuing along the path, a small branch leads to the next rock, which is "stratified" like a hamburger. One does not have the impression that one of the layers has a morphological relationship with the other. Vertical erosion traces are probably well understandable with sandstone formations, but the vertical layers, which differ so much in form, thickness and orientation, give me some food for thought. The dense planting on top deterred me from climbing the summit. Reminds me a little of landscapes in Avatar - departure to Pandora.
Layered rock like a hamburger
I didn't have to walk much further until I came across a rocky plateau slightly downhill, which corresponded to my original goal - as far as I could judge. A Dutch couple greeted me 2.50 meters above me and confirmed that I had reached my destination. Both were also armed with good photo equipment and immediately expressed their displeasure that the weather was so good. At first I was astonished at this statement, which sounded a little ironic, but was meant seriously. They made me understand that they had already repeated their visit because they were there last autumn. I asked her what this had to do with the weather. They told me that in wet weather it was easier to find petroglyphs that were practically invisible in summer. I was happy to have learned something new again and at the same time I was a little disappointed to have to overlook decisive hints at over 20 degrees and such imperial weather.
I stood in front of a rather large rock plateau which extended to the left and right up to a height of 2.50 metres and practically formed a compound of rocks abutting against each other. This formation of sandstone rocks was called "Sloopsteen", "Teufelsfelsen" or "Siebenschläfer", depending on the group of rocks. It was already clear to me before that there would once again be a deregulation of the church's name. Without further ado I climbed the plateau and was surprised to discover several pine trees on "naked" sandstone, which live there with minimalistic yield.
The entire rock complex is said to have served at that time as a Germanic place of worship in honour of the god Istraz, the alleged eponym of the mountain. Traces of rock, some of which look like the hoof or paw prints of animals, assign scientists to long extinct molluscs that are said to have eaten their way through the mud before it became hard. One refers here to trace fossils like Rhizocoralllium - I have looked at some of them here and unfortunately have to say that the very conspicuous traces here are not wormlike structures but rather of a large area nature.
Is it true that the worm was in here? Some tracks look man-made. One finds there impressions that at least look as if they had been placed with weight into an originally soft mass, as if by shoes.
Worm prints, often even in relief, can usually be detected without any doubt - simply because of their shape. In these cases here one has to think quite abstractly around the corner in order to relate these findings to it. I'm not saying that something like that doesn't happen here, but the conspicuous rock marks are probably of a different origin. I would then relate them more to human activities. Of course, I'm not a paleontologist and I can be wrong. But a large part of the particularly conspicuous traces, some of which even appear symmetrical, I would by no means assign to a worm here. Then I would rather join again the wild speculation of a not unfounded erosion theory.
Personally, I found the exploration of the plateau plain from above partly very humpy, one could also call it "scaly". The surface is conspicuously bulbous like the outer skin of a dead being. So far meione subjective description. From below and on the side, the whole thing does not necessarily look completely different. There are only a few sharp-edged or smooth surfaces that are particularly eye-catching.
Scaly structures to which geologists certainly have an answer. However, these structures are a conspicuous exception on the ground.
I don't want to rule out that geologists have helpful explanations ready, especially for the last two structural illustrations, but the hunchbacked surfaces, which cover almost the entire rock plateau, may not be so easy to explain.
Some sections are neither erosion activity nor chemical processes, which makes the plateau quite interesting. There are round bases, machined arches, smooth sections or even geometric shapes that can only be man-made.
Elaborate arches or round "coincidence"?
Triangular structures; symbols and trough distributors?
Rounded wall sections appear to be shaped and stand in contrast to other "unmachined" areas.
"Base" stones - evenly rounded
The author Gert Meier, the Marburg rock researcher Elisabeth Neumann-Gundrum and the Rhine architect Karl-Heiz Wend already saw numerous faces in the rock forms on the Isterberg in the 1990s. I must admit that I was struck by this issue on the spot without ever having heard of them before my visit. I too saw faces in the rock formations that reminded me of lizards. Elisabeth Neumann-Gundrum has apparently been involved with so-called large stone sculptures since the 1980s and has also published a corresponding illustrated book entitled "Europe's Culture of Large Sculptures. Primal images / primal knowledge of a European intellectual structure." Of course, the theses formulated here are dismissed by mainstream science as "pseudoscience", although renowned scientists at home and abroad have also confirmed the discoveries and evidence of Dr. Neumann-Gundrum. University professor Dr. Ernst Burgstaller, Linz/Upper Austria, for example, speaks of an overwhelming number of photographic documents that leave little room for doubt. According to the appearance it is a so far unknown creative period of early mankind of very important creative power and spiritual-historical statement.
A for me unmistakable lizard figure with extremities; from the profile left in the background one could read out a skull relief with some imagination.
You don't need much imagination to spot lizard heads or reptiles or to recognize such shapes and partly also head profiles as such. I hadn't concentrated on something like that during my visit, otherwise I'm sure some more pictures would have come together. Neither did I know anything about the name "Echse vom Isterberg", which the discoverer Karl Heinz Wend first read out of a rock structure there.
Here the lizard head read out by Karl Heinz Wend, which is said to have been "hewn out and clipped in" at one corner of the Devil's Rock (quote of author Gert Meier). It was pure coincidence that I also took a picture from the side. It is supposed to be the main head, although other rocks were "outed" as face stones (like surely also my lizard figure).
I find this following face stone far more striking, which also immediately caught my eye. In any case, the traces of processing should be as unclear here as the goal of creating a sculpture. Of course, this has suffered a little over the millennia.
The rock carving below interprets Gert Meier (in his article Die Echse vom Isterberg bei Bentheim und die Externsteine; Forschungsbericht des Forschungsgruppe Externsteine 2010/2011; >> Source) as a sign of Venus (Ostara). K.H. Wend took at least one similar photo of a rock with similar structures. Maybe it's just a recurring symbol around here. In any case, I am not sure whether such a thing can be interpreted from the editing tracks here.
K.H. Wend's theory is that the entire plant forms a lizard's body. There are not only numerous trenches against it, as well as the fact that "faces" appear in several places. Perhaps a bird's-eye view of a drone-flight would provide more information. Unfortunately, it is also still necessary to check whether the eye of the above-mentioned main head is actually sculpturally designed in such a way that one can recognize a human double profile in it. Since I did not know this assumption, I could not go into more detail about this theory on site.
In pre-Christian times, dragons and lizards were regarded as symbols carved in stone with a ritual-astronomic reference, which can be proven in many places in Europe and Egypt.
Elisabeth Neumann-Grundrum and Wend are of the opinion that the location of this plant also had a geometric relationship. There is a hint that the Isterberg is geographically on the same line as the Externsteine - and that both may be connected by an old place of pilgrimage.
She wrote in 1989:
"From this gigantic lizard a very old, apparently primeval'pilgrimage path' is supposed to extend to the Externsteine as end point and destination, partly over the crest of the Teutoburg Forest. On its slopes, north and south, as Mr. Wend reported (I saw photographs), there would be countless large, apparently partly worked rock groups, mostly overgrown by scrub and trees. What would be required here is unimaginable..." Apparently, Wend had further convincing information. I couldn't find him on Google so far, he's probably already deceased.
Many things are possible, after all the Externsteine are also known as face stones. I still have a journey ahead of me.
But first I would take another closer look at the Isterberg, which also has one or the other exciting rune (there is obviously a separate rune stone here), which I had unfortunately missed. It is undisputed that this site is a "sacred grove" which, in my opinion, should be preserved more aggressively than it is now.
Here are some more impressions, which from my point of view point to a megalithic structure, which I would classify elsewhere as well..
If you visit Bad Bentheim, just a few kilometres away, you will find that the mountain castle there was also protected by various rocks. Here, too, it was probably once a pre-Christian place of worship. The castle stands on a 7 km long hill called the foothills of the Teutoburg Forest, the so-called Bentheimer Höhenrücken. At the site of the castle, it reaches its highest point at 90 metres.
In the rock below the access to the castle there are numerous pagan and Christian symbols in Bentheim sandstone. However, there is no mention of the strange rock formations in the area of the slope.
The different zones for the bow construction seem strange to the attentive visitor. In the lower area one sees a worked base with platform, above it a smooth wall, which was worked 100%, above it rough rock and only then the masonry begins. It would be interesting to know what the place once looked like in front of the castle. In any case, one could well imagine that a lot had already happened here long before the first lord of the castle appeared.
Here the platform in front, which possibly formed the base for the processing of the wall above. Who was the first to work here?
Here an illegible inscription in the castle facade in airy height.
Rock and structure collide. The original rock walls are very well worked out.
In front of the supporting masonry are sandstone rocks with partly figurative forms. Here, too, very considerable work has been done.