The Nazi Temple of Pomerania: Exploring the Mysterious Odry Stone Circles
Odry is a small village in Pomerania in the north of Poland. This location became famous with the discovery of the second biggest site of stone circles in Europe. It is also known to be the home of at least 600 Neolithic burials, but is still holds many secrets.
The site is in a beautiful forested area near the Wda River. For many centuries, these kinds of places were damaged in Poland. The worst devastation took place during the 19th century, when people destroyed old kurgans (prehistoric burial mounds or barrows), stone circles, and other Neolithic constructions to prepare farmers’ fields. Nowadays, most of the Neolithic sites are located in the forest. It could be said that the caring tree roots saved them and protected them over the centuries.
A Forgotten Neolithic Site
Odry was first investigated during the second half of the 19th century by two amateur archaeologists - Wilhelm Stryjkowski and Abraham Lissauer. They concluded that the structures they discovered came from the Neolithic period.
Fragment of Circle IV of the cemetery of Odrach, Gmina Czersk. (CC BY SA 3.0)
In 1915, Paul Stephan surveyed the site and suggested that it was created with an astronomical purpose. According to Józef Kostrzewski from Poznań University, the stone circles are dated back to the 1st or 2nd centuries AD, however, this dating may not be correct. The structures are believed by other researchers to be at least a few centuries older than this. According to the Michał Pawleta from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań:
'The interpretation of past phenomena among archaeologists, and consequently, the meaning of the past and its remains, has not always stayed constant. This is also true in the case of particular monumental sites. Agreement on their dating was never reached. At the beginning of 20th century some archaeologists linked them to the Neolithic monumental religion and therefore they date back to the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC, others claimed that they are connected with the Wielbark culture of the 1st to 3rd century AD. Nowadays, as already mentioned, archaeologists unanimously agree that they date back to the period of Roman inﬂuence. Moreover, there was also no agreement as to the ethnic identity of their builders. Polish archaeologist Józef Kostrzewski claimed in the 1930s that they were Slavic cemeteries from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, and later used by the Goths.'
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The discoveries made by Paul Stephan suggest that the central stelae of four of the stone circles are connected to solstices. Moreover, he identified various stellar alignments on the assumption that the construction was dated back to the 8th century BC. Nowadays, some researchers suggest that his assumptions and the alignments are wrong. However, Stephan said that the Odry circles were designed to establish a precise calendar.
A Temple for Nazis
Stephan’s interpretation was also used by Nazi archaeologists to support their theory about Pomerania’s origins. In general, they were strongly attracted to everything they saw as magical. They were fascinated with occultism and witchcraft as well. Apart from collecting an impressive library of the books related to these topics, they were also looking for special areas ''of power''.
Heinrich Himmler believed that the power of the old occult masters would help the Nazis rule the world. He followed the Witch-Cult hypothesis created by Margaret Murray, a famous researcher in this field. He believed there was a scientific backing for witchcraft and with time he became obsessed with searching for it. He trusted that Celto-Germanic religion would bring him all that he desired - but the simple version of their traditions was not enough for him. The Nazis created the dirtiest and most corrupt version of ''witchcraft'' to ever exist.
Heinrich Himmler. (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S72707 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)
During World War II, the Nazis presented the origins of the Odry circles as proof that Germans were long-standing inhabitants of Pomerania. In 1940, they decided to make the stone rings a special temple for their occult celebrations. The soldiers who arrived there received orders to clean the area and to put the stones in places they looked like they belonged.
Problematic Stone Rings
Archaeologists still debate the origins and the reasons behind the creation of such a huge burial center amongst the stone rings. It is difficult to agree upon one conclusion to summarize the stone circles’ roots. It is almost impossible to find out how old the constructions discovered in Odry really are. It is known that the area was settled by the Goths, but the earlier history of the region has never been confirmed.
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In 1963, Jerzy Dobrzycki, an astronomical historian, proved that Stephan’s conclusions were undermined by Kostrzewski’s chronology. The site was also investigated in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. A team of researchers, including Mirosław Dworak, Karol Piasecki, Ludwik Zajdler, Mariusz Ziółkowski, and Robert Sadowski, suggested different hypotheses connected with the astronomical alignments of the site as well. According to them and the newer generation of archaeoastronomers who researched the site in the 1990s and 2000s, the solstitial alignments might be fortuitous.
An example of stone circles in Grzybnica, Poland. (M. Pawleta)
The researchers analyzed 10 stone rings in these areas, but there are probably many more. Around 29 kugrans were identified in a nearby neighborhood, but it is known that there are at least 602 burials in Odry.
The Stone Rings’ Energies
Nowadays, the site of the stone rings is a very popular place. Many people who practice water sports on the river nearby visit the site for some rest. The tourists who go there claim to feel a calming energy. There are many stories of people experiencing this energy, which is said to be generated by the Neolithic constructions.
People standing inside stone circles and “tuning into the energy” in Grzybnica. (M. Pawleta)
The site in Odry still holds many secrets. The area is very large to excavate and some parts of it still await reconstruction and exploration. The most recent research using satellite pictures helped researchers to discover that the area of stone rings and kurgans is much larger than it was thought to be. What else may be found there in the future?
Top Image: Odry stone circles, Poland. Source: CC BY SA 3.0
Piotr Kaczanowski, Janusz Krzysztof Kozłowski,Najdawniejsze dzieje ziem Polskich (do VII w.), 1998.
The past in the present. A case of ancient stone rings in Pomerania, Poland, by Michał Pawleta, available at: https://www.academia.edu/8429854/The_past_in_the_present._A_case_of_ancient_stone_rings_in_Pomerania_Poland_w_N._Sch%C3%BCcker_red._Integrating_archaeology_science_wish_reality_Frankfurt_9-16
The Stone Circles at Odry, Poland, available at: http://www2.astronomicalheritage.net/index.php/show-entity?
Odry, available at: www.kamienne.org.pl/index.php/przewodnik/14-przewodnik/180-odry.html
The Stone Circles at Odry, Poland by Stanisław Iwaniszewski, available at: http://media.astronomicalheritage.net/media/astronomicalheritage.net/entity_000008/ch02cs3.pdf