Two of Europe’s Biggest Cairns are About to Be Buried in Trash
Two of the biggest European cairns are facing destruction in the World Heritage city of Maulbronn, Germany. If it happens, the prehistoric monuments would be lost and scientific investigation impossible. This would be extremely unfortunate for all the citizens who would like to see these huge prehistoric cairns restored – not buried under trash.
If the present owners of the city’s quarry - Lauster-Steinbruch Stuttgarter Straße - had their way, the mighty buildings would be sold to the landfill operator Fischer in Weilheim and be covered by 400,000 cubic meters of construction waste.
The cairns in Maulbronn, Germany are under threat. (Author provided)
The Massive Cairns of Maulbronn
In the archaeology of Western Europe these impressive relics are generally referred to as megalithic cairns, but they are totally undervalued in Maulbronn. In other parts of Europe, these monuments have been investigated and restored for almost 70 years.
The long, stretched step-pyramids are similar to structures found in Brittany, on the Canary Islands, and in South America and Egypt (such as the mastabas of Saqqara). They are recognized as earlier, quadratic versions of the pharaoh’s pyramids.
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Mastaba of Pharaoh Shepseskaf of the 4th dynasty. (Jon Bodsworth)
Official and academic archaeologists have been aware of the existence of the megalithic cairns in Maulbronn for a long time, but no investigations have been completed. Some may believe that they don‘t like to be outperformed by citizen scientists announcing such sensational discoveries, but the discoverer Troy Hans Schliemann, was a citizen scientist too.
In Anglo-Saxon countries, citizen scientists may be considered as useful associates in public research, but in this country they are hindered by the state agency which protects historic monuments because they are forbidden by law to carry out excavations.
Stonework Hidden Under Heaps of Rubble
But it was only by examining the Zwerchhälde-Cairn of Sternenfels that we have proven that this supposed rubble heap does not only possess a circular wall, but also systematically set stonework deep inside it. In the early 2000s, geology students at the University of Karlsruhe performed geo-electrical measurements and detected a central cavity measuring 5 meters (16.4 ft.) in height in the mound. If this is the tomb, it is comparable in size with similar but more famous Egyptian structures. However, digging a tunnel to be certain of the find would require engineering skills and financial support.
The first time the three megalithic cairns of the area were mapped was by the surveyor Johann Michael Spaeth from Kleinsachenheim in 1761. The map is upside down, meaning the cardinal points are mixed up.
North should be located at the bottom of the 1761 map. (Author provided)
As you can see on the correctly orientated and shaded relief map in the image below, the volume of the quarry is virtually equal to the two purported rubble heaps. In fact, these “heaps” are built with square-hewn stones without mortar – a technique that is seen in some of the oldest architectural features in the world.
A shaded relief map showing the three megalithic cairns. (Author provided)
Features of the Megalithic Cairns
You can see the exposed stonework at Cairn 2 next to the entrance at the corner of the building. If this was just a pile of rubble, it would consist of boulders, clay, sand, and remnants of broken stones. Yet here you can only find sandstone ashlars (finely-dressed stonework), which would have been used as paving blocks.
A dredger damaged the systematically placed stonework. Nonetheless, you can still see the horizontal set of stones at the very back. With the owners’ permission we could restore the wall within a day. But they have other interests.
The exposed stonework at Cairn 2. (Author provided)
The original façade of Cairn 1 is well-preserved all along the street side and obviously it was set with dry stones. The knee-high wall you see in the image below the prehistoric wall was built circa the 1940s - like the walls inside the entrance which were grouted with cement.
The original façade of Cairn 1 with the modern wall below it. (Author provided)
Cairn 3 is on the South-side of Stuttgart Road, on the city’s builder’s yard.
Cairn 3. (Author provided)
This cairn shows ashlars over the entire wall. The typical stepped style of prehistoric cairn architecture is evident. This is one of the best-preserved specimens.
Cairn 3 is one of the best-preserved. (Author provided)
The megalithic grave it contains has been known about for a long time. It is closed by a steel door.
The steel door on Cairn 3. (Author provided)
You may not expect to find the entrance into the cairn so high up the side, but in the Schmie district we know of the existence of about 20 cairns and some of them have ramps to what are now destroyed grave chambers. This is especially true in Freudenstein, where one can see the existing foundations of grave chambers on what seem to be the second and third floors of a very tall cairn.
Over the years, people have used the well-shaped rock plates and cut stones of the grave chambers for their own purposes and so many of the cairns were reduced to their foundations. This is the sad story of the gradual destruction of our own culture. But it was not so different in Egypt - hundreds of pyramids shared the same fate. Since our monuments stood in archaic quarries the people who dismantled them may have been unaware of their importance.
Big blocks of stone were used in building the corner of the monuments. This was common in ancient buildings. But who would believe in the existence of prehistoric pyramids in this country if responsible archaeologists do not?
Big block cornerstones. (Author provided)
The former owner of the quarry, Rolf Burrer, told us that there are two more tunnels at Cairn 1.
A portal into a grave seems to be next to the access road at Cairn 2. There you can see big blocks of stone that are so familiar to people who have looked at the Egyptian pyramids. The burial chamber tunnel is arched in Cairn 2. The entrance is still walled up and the left side is obviously destroyed. It is the only part of the outer cairn where such big blocks are visible.
The visibly arched portal of Cairn 2. (Author provided)
Comparisons to Other Ancient Monuments
As an art teacher who studied comparative art history I always compare such findings with more well-known prehistoric monuments, for example to the so-called kennel-hole portal tombs of Tobernaveen and Corracloona in Ireland, which are cut in stone too...
Tobernaveen and Corracloona portal tombs in Ireland. (irishmegaliths.org.uk)
...and with the burial chamber entrance in the cairn of Montioux nearby Saint Soline in Eastern France. This Celtic period mastaba is dated by some archaeologists to about 1800 BC. However, others say 500 BC would be a more accurate date because iron tools were only officially used from about 800 BC.
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You can compare typical Celtic portals with the burial chamber portal of the mastaba of Pharaoh Shepseskaf of the 4th dynasty (2510 - 2500 BC), which was originally walled up, too. Such global comparisons are quite legitimate because pyramids are everywhere in the world and they are similar in architecture.
The Egyptian monument measures 99.6 meters (326.77 ft.) in length, 74.4 meters (244.09 ft.) in width, and 18 meters (59.06 ft.) in height. In comparison, Cairn 2 in Maulbronn measures 166 meters (544.62 ft.) in length, 82 meters (269.03 ft.) in width, and 20 meters (65.62 ft.) in height over the actual level of the road. Both the Egyptian and the German mastabas are comprised of red sandstone.
The entrance to the mastaba of Pharaoh Shepseskaf. (Author provided)
Because our portal is walled up to the arch’s apex it could be a wonderfully simple starting point in the search for the burial chamber. The retaining wall should be some meters thick, if you compare it with the Egyptian monument. But as things are, the prehistoric tomb is not allowed to be uncovered.
Following Dr. Wielands’ theory, the dry masonry walls should only appear at the base as an “encircling wall of a rubble heap.” But we find stone steps and horizontal stonework even on the crest of Cairn 1, where it makes little sense in terms of safety. In comparison, excavators found clay up to 4 meters (13.12 ft.) high along the sides of the pyramids of Teotihuacan, and in Giza meteoric clay from the monuments transformed into desert sands.
There are breaches on the summit of the cairn, which point to burial chambers that have been broken into. (Author provided)
At the street side of Cairn 1 you can see part of a stone step. The stonework could easily be uncovered down the side by removing the erosional rubble. (Author provided)
Horizontal dry stone masonry is visible on the steep Western slope of Cairn 2. The cairn has a length of about 166 meters. (Author provided)
In comparison Cairn F of Bougon has a length of about 72 meters. (Author provided)
If step pyramids were built all around the world, even by the prehistoric farming cultures of North America, why shouldn’t there be any at the productive center of the prehistoric European continent? The preconditions were optimal. In the Celtic Iron Age they had enough raw material to produce steel tools thanks to their enormous ironstone on the Swabian Albtrauf.
Hill sides offered the necessary building blocks and after breaking the stable ground people were able to erect the monuments which are misinterpreted today, even by serious (?) archaeologists, as ordinary rubble heaps.
We do not know if both cairns on the North side of Stuttgart Road were built to be the same length. But there are clues. Near Schlaitdorf there are twin-cairns in front of a quarry too. They are not the same length, either. Maybe a King and Queen were buried together, side by side.
Near Schlaitdorf there are twin-cairns in front of a quarry too. (Author provided)
Nearby Roigheim has a similar layout at the long access path to the rock cut room. But here only one cairn was built along the way. Maybe the queen died and the king was lost on the battle field of the clan wars of the time. The rectangular quarry is completely filled by another cairn. Luckily this is one example which is not fully looted.
Nearby Roigheim has a similar layout, but only one cairn. (Author provided)
Another pair of cairns is standing at the top end of the cloister lake. It looks like the wings of a bird. The soul bird was a popular motif in ancient cultures and can be found on several rockfaces of our rock necropolises.
Another pair of cairns look like the wings of a bird. (Author provided)
The northern cairn. (Author provided)
Such well-preserved ancient stonework can be seen at the back side of the Southern cairn. Imagine, a wall in a rubble heap! I have never seen such a phenomenon before.
The back side of the southern cairn. (Author provided)
Mega Monuments Lost Under Rubbish
It is not the first time that impressive prehistoric monuments have been buried under rubbish. Near the city of Karlsruhe at Grötzingen there is a former quarry called Kaisergrub (Emperor’s pit or Emperor’s grave), a hint that once an emperor, presumably a Gallic Caesar, was buried in this stone grave. After World War II people built a landfill over this supposedly meaningless stone pit – the garbage mountain is now taller than a forest.
Grüne Heiner stands in Weilimdorf near Korntal. It is an imposing prehistoric construction. A triangular monument protrudes out of a quadrangular socket. The US military is said to have unloaded their rubbish at this site.
The rubbish heap over a monument in Weilimdorf. (Author provided)
And this is how it could soon look at Maulbronn. If it does, there is no chance of finding the entrance to the burial chambers.
The area of Fuchsberg near Haberschlacht, which served for decades as a nuclear missile site after World War II, was misused as a dump by the US army too. But there the triangular layout of the large monument is very well preserved. There seems to be a portal to an underground vault there, but concrete slabs block it. It could have been used as a storage space for unknown pollutants. We don’t know.
The supposed portal is identical to the left eye of a stylized bull head. To the left side is the real dump. (Author provided)
Why Aren’t These Sites Being Acknowledged?
It is incomprehensible that there is no acknowledgement of these big prehistoric monuments with us when you can encounter them everywhere in the country. They are never registered by archaeologists - quite the opposite of Great Britain, where people are proud of every single one, for example the tumulus of Langdale End, Scarborough, North Yorkshire.
The tumulus of Langdale End, Scarborough, North Yorkshire. (Author provided)
No one would dare to transform such a magnificent building into a dump. But with us only utilitarian thinking counts, our brilliant ancient culture seems to stand no chance against it.
Another significant example is found in Franconia near Nenzenheim. You can still see the long alley to the main doorway of this Celtic mastaba. It is 395 meters (1295.93 ft.) long, 230 meters (754.59 ft.) wide, and 27 meters (88.58 ft.) tall.
You can still see the long alley to the main doorway of this Celtic mastaba. (Author provided)
Every attempt to represent this building as a dump would fail because such an incision would never occur, it would have been filled in from the beginning. No one would try so hard to avoid a deep ditch like this. An entrance to the building’s interior should have remained open. You can imagine a subterranean disposal site, too. But you can only speculate how much rubbish was tipped on the original building.
If you compare the famous megalithic monument of Maeshowe on the Orkney Islands (circa 3000 BC) you see a similar long, deep incision. That mount is 7 meters (22.97 ft.) tall and its diameter is 35 meters (114.83 ft.) wide. The alleyway has a length of nearly 12 meters (39.37 ft.), but in Nenzenheim it is about 60 meters (196.85 ft.) long.
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It makes you wonder, how vast are the hidden chambers of Nenzenheim?
Are the Maulbronn Cairns Destined to be Garbage Dumps?
The officials of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg are called upon to take responsibility for these colossal prehistoric monuments and start exploring the burial chambers we are forbidden to investigate ourselves.
At comparable taxpayers’ expense, unnecessary rescue digs are carried out just to explore the last cesspool of the Middle Ages, instead of important monuments of real world heritage, which could be restored for the people of our country and for all of mankind.
You can read more information about the current status of our research on our homepage: www.megalith-pyramiden.de
Top Image: The visibly arched portal of Cairn 2 in Maulbronn, Germany. Source: Author provided
By Walter Haug