The Cup Stone Trail of Schonach

"Summstein" (Humming Stone)

This journey takes us to the heart of the Black Forest in Southwestern Germany, where we find ourselves surrounded by picturesque landscapes and dense forests, once again embarking on a quest to uncover the legacies left by our distant ancestors. We will follow the so-called Schalensteinpfad (Cup Stone Trail) of Schonach.

Schonach’s Prehistoric Legacy

Situated at an altitude of about 900 meters in a valley, Schonach is a charming village, home to approximately 4,000 inhabitants.

Historical records suggest that human settlement here did not occur until the early 12th century. People were drawn to the higher regions of the Black Forest after the economic development of the Black Forest was initiated by the monasteries, notably the St. Georgen Abbey, in the 11th century. It has been officially confirmed though that an axe from the Neolithic era was found, which means a tool that could be up to around 7000 years old. Discovering a prehistoric axe does not necessarily indicate a permanent settlement, but it could suggest the possibility of one.

Traces of the Celts, who are said to have emerged in the wider area about 2,500 years ago, have not been found. However, I think one only needs to climb an adjacent hill, teeming with rocks featuring carved basins and other modifications, to potentially acknowledge their presence.

View from the mountain that is dotted with numerous cup-marked and other worked stones

As described on the Schonach community website, there is in fact speculation that these basins are not the work of glaciers or erosion, but instead could likely be attributed to the Celts as their sacrificial bowls (some say healing bowls). In my opinion, these voices are correct.

Upon closer inspection, you can also find various stone structures that are so imposing that they seem to belong to an earlier era, which I would describe as megalithic.

Here again, it appears to confirm what I’ve observed on various other excursions: namely, that the Celts likely discovered a much older sacred site and continued conducting their rituals on its remnants.

Coat of Arms of Schonach

As usual when it’s about old sacred sites, the Church, along with some inaugurated secular officials, appear to have possessed a deeper knowledge. This becomes subtly apparent when looking at the village’s coat of arms, which depicts the Virgin Mary in combination with a crescent moon. That coat of arms itself does not seem to be very old, about 120 years or so, but the age of Schonach’s community seal, which also featured Mary around 1800 already, fades into the mist of history. The old village church was as well dedicated to Mary.

Those familiar with the relevant literature understand that places devoted to the Christian veneration of Mary actually once served to honor the Mother Goddess. This deity has been revered under countless names across millennia and numerous cultures around the world. For instance, about 100 km from Schonach, in 2008, the Venus of Hohle Fels was discovered. This female figure, carved from mammoth ivory, is believed to be between 40,000 to 42,000 years old. To me, it undoubtedly symbolizes this very Mother Goddess too.

Cup Stones Along the Trail

The Schonach Cup Stone Trail is a picturesque, approx. 2.5km nature path through the forest on a mountain adjacent to the village. The route meanders past a series of boulders marked with uniquely shaped, bowl-like depressions. At points, it winds through a sea of granite rocks of various sizes, scattered along the slope.

The path has been made more accessible by adding small bridges.

As indicated previously, the concentration of cup-marked stones in this relatively small area is unparalleled in the surrounding region. These stones bear names that evoke a sense of mysticism, such as Ghost Rock (German: Geisterfelsen), Witch Stone (German: Hexenstein), Blood Rock (German: Blutfelsen), etc.

I haven’t necessarily matched all names with the images, and certainly not all stones that exist there are captured in the gallery below, or were even discovered during my exploration. Some images display the same stone from various angles. However, I believe the selection provided should offer a good impression of the location and what to expect when visiting. Official sources mention “a large number” of these stones.

Many cup-marked stones

The Humming Stone

The Humming Stone (German: Summstein) is a unique specimen. When you place your head into its lateral indentation and vocalize or make noises, it appears as though the entire block absorbs the vibrations, resonating with a humming sound.

This observation could suggest that a few or perhaps all of these bowls are not sacrificial vessels at all, but rather healing bowls, as some have speculated. Frequency, vibration, and physical or mental well-being appear to be intricately linked. The concept of the site functioning as an ancient sanitarium at least would align with the worship of the Allmother cult. The latter venerates her for various attributes including fertility, protection, and notably, her embodiment of the Earth’s grounding energy and healing powers.

The Humming Stone

Stone Settings and Worked Rocks

It’s not just cup stones that you encounter along the way. Again and again you come across arrangements of stones of varying sizes, up to truly megalithic proportions. This together with the presence of the mentioned coat of arms, suggests that the site held spiritual importance well before the Celtic era, indicating its roots may stretch back to the megalithic age.

Traces of stone splitting can also be observed, hinting that the villagers perhaps have exploited the abundant granite deposits as a quarry, or there might have been attempts at destruction. In the Black Forest, you occasionally encounter split menhirs. According to what I’ve read, there were historical efforts to prevent the continued use of old pagan sites by destroying them. In this case, however, I’m more inclined to believe in the quarry theory, especially since the many other cup-marked stones have been left intact.

Stone arrangements and worked rocks

The Schonach Cup Stone Trail, or Schalensteinpfad in German, is an intriguing destination, despite the limited accessible information about its historical background. It is clear to me that this location did not come into existence purely through natural processes. Having witnessed it firsthand, it’s nearly unfathomable that anyone could question its human-made origins.

I think it is another underrated and overlooked place in the Black Forest, downgraded to a mere tourist attraction, that would actually have the potential for us to learn about our past and forgotten spiritual knowledge.

Video & Map

A few impressions of the site
Schonach in the heart of the Black Forest

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