Today we are going on a trip to one of these places that will inevitably leave visitors astonished. I’m referring to the Nonnenfels (Nun’s Rock), nestled near the town of Bad Dürkheim in Southwest Germany.
According to official sources, this is believed to be the remains of a medieval outer bailey that may have served as a defense for the nearby grand Hardenburg Castle. In general, however, very little is known about this place and its former purpose. All available information is nothing more than vague speculation.
An ancient megalithic site?
Upon observing this structure, it becomes evident that it does not resemble a castle ruin in any way, and I wonder who could come up with such an idea. Usually, I am cautious about making any definitive statements. However, it is abundantly clear that we are dealing with something much older here: a megalithic ruin, to be precise. I mean, who and for what purpose would or could have built such a colossal construction in the Middle Ages, which, moreover, was obviously not to be used as a defensive structure or seems to have been an observation post?
The entire area around Bad Dürkheim is rich in artifacts from the prehistoric era, particularly of Celtic origin. Nevertheless, there should never have been such a colossal structure in the southwest or even in the whole of Germany. Officially, such structures exist in South America, for example, but not here. Moreover, in my opinion, the Celts themselves were probably not capable of building something so massive, i.e. of moving and stacking stones weighing tens of tons or more.
The gigantic boulder, which looks a little like a tank coming up the hillside, seems to have once rested on two supports. One of them is now missing and the block has obviously tumbled down on one side.
I believe the construction of the Hardenburg was deliberately planned to be in near vicinity of this formation. From my observations so far at sites I have visited, I conclude that the medieval nobility, as well as the Church, always sought proximity to ancient places of worship, knowing only too well of their power as age-old sacred grounds. It is therefore comprehensible that they erected their own buildings strategically in close proximity to these places.
See for yourself!
A completely man-made formation?
There is a lingering feeling that the entire rock formation was artificially stacked with multiple huge slabs or blocks. As a non-geologist, it is difficult to determine whether these visible seams are a result of this stacking or if they are partially filled and fused natural faults.
In any case, the “interior” has undergone considerable modifications. These include supporting structures on the right and left sides, which probably serve to stabilize the overhanging rock ceiling. A rectangular block of stone, reminiscent of an altar, also catches the eye.
The massive rock, which resembles a tank, has a seemingly pointless carved staircase leading to nowhere. I had encountered similar stairs at sacred sites I visited before or in photographs of ancient megalithic locations in other countries.
An old quarry nearby
Just a few meters away from the Nonnenfels, there lies something that could have been an old quarry. Whether or to what extent it was involved in the construction of the megalithic formation remains uncertain. According to official sources, it is assumed that the site, and particularly the supposed Nonnenfels “castle”, was exploited for stone extraction during the Middle Ages.
Hardenburg Castle within sight
About 400m away from Nonnenfels, on a hill opposite, lie the ruins of the Hardenburg, a fortress, built in the early 13th century. This is one of the largest castle complexes in the region. Not only the remains of the massive artillery towers, some with walls up to 7 meters thick, give us an idea of the former grandeur of this bastion.
From the castle, one can also catch a glimpse of the ruins of Limburg Abbey. It was erected in the 11th century atop the remnants of a prehistoric Celtic settlement.
An adjacent rock face, which looks as if it has been cut away smoothly, gives the impression that a considerable part of the hill has been removed. Whether the latter happened during the construction of the castle or whether stone was quarried and processed here earlier, perhaps a very long time ago, remains uncertain.
Some of the elements integrated into the castle’s masonry also appear to be ancient megalithic remains. However, this is only a personal perception and I do not intend to make any definitive claims.
There can be found menhirs at the ascents to the Nonnenfels and the Hardenburg. Such stones were mostly installed in more recent times, usually by associations or foundations, but in my opinion, they are intended to subtly indicate the significance of the marked sites as prehistoric sanctuaries. This is analogous to many other similar ancient places where the Church has left its mark in the form of wayside crosses, chapels, Marian shrines, or similar structures.