The megalith in Nobbin on Rügen is located close to the northern end of Rügen, near Arkona, and is today only 10m from the steep coast of the Baltic Sea (see map). It is a trapezoid chambered long barrow surrounded by 23 x 5 stones plus four large guarding stones at the corners. The mound, which is known in local folklore as "Riesenberg" (giant's mound), contained two small stone chambers. It has been protected since 1957.
The site has long been known and has often been visited by travellers, such as Ludwig Theobul Kosegarten in 1754, J.F.Zöllner in 1795, and Johann Jakob Grümbke in 1803. Caspar David Friedrich possibly drew the megalith in his lost oil painting "Abend am Ostseestrand" (n.d.) and in "Hünengrab am Meer" (c.1807) (Sprockhoff 1967: 105 and plates 96, 97). Another painting was done by Carl Gustav Carus in 1820. Ernst Sprockhoff listed the site as no. 466 in his 1967 catalogue.
The Riesenberg was excavated and partly restored from 5.4. until 26.5.1970 by Ewald Schuldt and his team (Schuldt 1972). During the excavation Schuldt found several middle Slavic pot sherds in the earth surrounding the badly preserved southern chamber, which he therefore assumed to have been destroyed during the 9th or 10th century AD. The northern chamber was completely covered by earth and turned out to be an extended dolmen of which the cap-stone was missing. Among the earth with which the chamber was filled, an urn and grave goods from the pre-Roman Iron Age were found. This secondary burial shows therefore that the chamber must already have been missing its cap-stone in the pre-Roman Iron Age (Schuldt 1972: 155157).
Another interesting find was made just beyond the southern end of the long barrow, between the two biggest guarding stones. Here, several cobbled areas were discovered which contained not only traces of charcoal and dark stains in the earth, but also more middle Slavic pottery (Fresendorfer Gruppe; 9th to early 10th century AD) and an arabic coin from the 9th century. (Schuldt 1972: 158 and Fig. 117). In a letter from 2.6.1985, Schuldt stated accordingly that during the 9th century AD Slavic people had lived in this area of the megalith and that three stones along the southern end had already then fallen over (after Ortsakte).
In the neighbourhood of the site the following later
prehistoric finds were made:
In 1986, Werner Baumann and Max Seurig published a study about "prehistoric mathematics" in which they studied the geometry of megaliths. One of their examples besides Boitin and Forst Mönchgut was the chambered long barrow of Nobbin. They conducted exact measurements of the lengths and angles between stones and came to the conclusion that they reflect exact construction principles based on the megalithic yard and standing in relation to the calendar year (Baumann and Seurig 1986: chapter 1).
Baumann and Seurig 1986: Tafel 1
Herwig Brätz was in 1986 likewise convinced of an astronomical significance of the site of Nobbin, based on work done by Friedrich Hirsch in the 1940s. In correspondences with Ewald Schuldt (in Ortsakte), he expressed his belief that Schuldt had wrongly re-erected three stones during his restoration in 1970, which had been astronomically important. He also pointed to an 'angle sign' on the southwestern guarding stone, which Schuldt explained as the result of natural erosion processes. In a letter from 2.6.1986, Schuldt dismissed all of Brätz' theories as "nonsense" and "pure speculation", about which to talk would be "wasted time".
The megalith of Nobbin, which Schuldt called the most impressive of Rügen (1972: 153), is today a prominent tourist site near the attractions of Arkona, and features on several postcards and in tourist brochures and electronic advertising. Recent paintings of wheel-shaped crosses and the runic 's' on some of the stones may also suggest the activity of neo-pagan groups (see picture above!). During a visit on 2.8.1995, I saw the remains of a camp-fire between the two southern guarding stones.
Bauman, H.Werner and Max Seurig (1986) Prähistorische Mathematik. Beiträge zu Rechenmethoden alter Kulturen. Bonn: self published.
Schuldt, Ewald (1972) Der Riesenberg von Nobbin, Kreis Rügen. Bodendenkmalpflege in Mecklenburg, Jahrbuch 1971, 153160.
Sprockhoff, Ernst (1967) Atlas der Megalithgräber Deutschlands. Part Two: MecklenburgBrandenburgPommern. Bonn: Habelt.
© Cornelius Holtorf