The megaliths in Forst Everstorf

The area of Forst Everstorf near Grevesmühlen (see map) is extraordinarily rich in archaeological monuments, including some of the best known megaliths in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which are divided into a northern group (34–43) and a southern group and include the megalith at Forst Jamel (44–49).

The oldest image is by C.Schumacher and shows one megalith (46) in Friedrich Lisch's catalogue from 1837 (cf. p. 164). A drawing of the same megalith was also published by A.von Bonstetten in 1865 (see Sprockhoff 1967: 4 and Lisch 1868: 116).

The cap-stone of one megalith (42) was removed after World War I and re-used for a war memorial in nearby Hamberge.

Several of the megaliths are connected with folklore, in particular two (45, 46) which have long been well-known and were often visited, described and depicted by travellers and antiquarians. They are also known as "Riesen-" or "Teufelsbackofen" (giant's or devil's oven; see image above) and "Riesengrab" (giant's grave; see image below) respectively, and corresponding folktales are told about them (Bartsch 1879: 30f.).

One story about the truly gigantic "Riesengrab" goes like this:

A long, long time ago there lived in this area a giant and his wife. The giant caused his neighbours a lot of trouble by taking away their animals and trampling on their crops and so on. This annoyed the people and they decided to take their revenge out on him and bury the giant alive. They set up look-out posts, who, as soon as they found the giant asleep, would come and tell the neighbours. They found him... and the people arrived carrying pick-axes, spades and shovels. After they had dug a hole in the earth next to the sleeping giant, they rolled him into it and covered him with soil. The next morning the giant's wife went looking for him. Finally she found out that her husband had been buried and where the grave was located. She went and filled her apron with stones, and poured these around the grave. The wife mourned and the people rejoiced. Both would not last long, however, because the same day the giant, for whom the grave had simply been a nice warm bed, got up again and continued his normal life, and now he was even worse than before. The people realised that they had to get rid of the giant if they ever wanted to live in peace and quiet. Once again they found the giant asleep in the same spot. Immediately they set out to bury him alive again. This time they made a deep hole for him, so that the giant would have more earth on top of him and would not get out so easily. When the grave was ready, they took some of the stones which the giant's wife had carried to the site, and rolled them onto his head. These stones were too heavy for him, and he has had to lie there forever. Since that time no more giants have been seen here. The giant's wife, too, left the area shortly afterwards. (translated by Ymke Mulder)

Ernst Sprockhoff listed most of the megaliths in Forst Everstorf as no. 304–315 in his catalogue (1967). After earlier investigations by archaeologists such as Robert Beltz at several of them, most megaliths were excavated in the period between 22.9.1966 and 7.7.1967 by a team led by Ewald Schuldt and Adolf Hollnagel (Schuldt 1970a-e; Hollnagel 1970). They found the megaliths, especially those of the northern group, in a very bad state due to the activities of farmers clearing their fields, stone-robbers and treasure-hunters (Schuldt 1970a; see also documents from the 1930s in the Ortsakte). Most of them were restored.

In Forst Everstorf Schuldt identified altogether three simple dolmens (37, 40, 43), two extended dolmens (34, 36), and five long barrows at least three of which have simple dolmens as burial chambers (35, 38, 39, 41, 42) in the northern group and one long barrow with a simple dolmen (44), one extended dolmen (47), and two passage-graves one of which in a long barrow (46, 49) in the southern group. The protection by law of all these megaliths was renewed in 1988.

During the excavations, one megalith (42) was found to contain metal age pottery and three secondary burials from the younger Bronze Age (Schuldt 1970a: 32–34). Another megalith (45) shows cup-marks on two cap-stones as well as on one side-stone. Inside, early German pottery sherds were found which Adolf Hollnagel thought had been brought in during the earlier investigations by Robert Beltz (Hollnagel 1970: 92). In a third megalith (46), Beltz himself found nothing but a Medieval iron spur, "den wohl ein in der offen liegenden Höhlung des Grabes Zuflucht suchender Ritter verloren hat" (Beltz 1929, cited after Schuldt 1970e: 63).
In 1987, Peter Meinel published an archaeoastronomical study of several megaliths of the northern group of Forst Everstorf, which partly built on, and continued, earlier work by Joachim-Hermann Scharf (1983). Both investigated possible aiming lines between the stones of single monuments towards locations at the horizon where moon and sun appear at significant times of the year. The megaliths were thus interpreted as meaningful for a Neolithic calendar. While Scharf had studied one megalith (46) in particular, Meinel focussed mainly on another (33; see image right). [Image]
One of Meinel's drawings (see figure) shows all significant aiming lines going through the centre of the burial chamber (Meinel 1987: Fig. 15, cf. chapter 6). The practicalities of the actual aiming process remained, however, unresolved.

Nowadays, the megaliths in Forst Everstorf are major tourist attractions, well advertised and frequently visited. The megaliths were popular visiting destinations already during GDR times, when local newspapers reported regularly about the excavations and a leaflet entitled "Naherholungsgebiet Großsteingräber Everstorfer Forst" was available (see Ortsakte). Most megaliths have got information boards next to them, which mention the basic facts about their architecture and some excavation results. Near the southern group, which is located directly at the main through route from Hamburg to Rügen, is car park with several catering stands and a sign-posted footpath to the various megaliths. As a consequence of the popularity, a lot of rubbish is being dropped in the forest, desecrating the site. During my visit in 1995, I came across even faeces and old tires.


Bartsch, Karl (1879) Sagen, Märchen und Gebräuche aus Mecklenburg. Wien: Braumüller. Reprinted 1978: Hildesheim and New York: Georg Olms Verlag.

Hollnagel, Adolf (1970) Der 'Teufelsbackofen' genannte Dolmen im Forst Everstorf, Kreis Grevesmühlen. Bodendenkmalpflege in Mecklenburg, Jahrbuch 1968, 89–99.

Lisch, G.C.Friedrich (1837) Friderico-Francisceum oder Grossherzogliche Alterthümersammlung aus der altgermanischen und slavischen Zeit Mecklenburgs zu Ludwigslust. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel.

Lisch, G.C.Friedrich (1868) Mecklenburgische Hünengräber. Mecklenburgische Jahrbücher 33, 113–117.

Meinel, Peter (1987) Archäoastronomische Untersuchungen an mecklenburgischen Megalithgräbern. Dissertation A. Jena.

Scharf, Joachim-Hermann (1983) Sind die historischen Zeiteinteilungssyteme biologisch relevant? Verhandlungen der Anatomischen Gesellschaft 77, 29–58.

Schuldt, Ewald (1970a) Die Dolmengruppe im Nordteil des Everstorfer Forstes bei Barendorf, Kreis Grevesmühlen. Bodendenkmalpflege in Mecklenburg, Jahrbuch 1968, 7–38.

Schuldt, Ewald (1970b) Der Urdolmen im Everstorfer Forst bei Naschendorf, Kreis Grevesmühlen. Bodendenkmalpflege in Mecklenburg, Jahrbuch 1968, 39–44.

Schuldt, Ewald (1970c) Ein zerstörter Großdolmen im Everstorfer Forst bei Naschendorf, Kreis Grevesmühlen. Bodendenkmalpflege in Mecklenburg, Jahrbuch 1968, 45–48.

Schuldt, Ewald (1970d) Ein Ganggrab mit trapezförmiger Einfassung im Everstorfer Forst bei Naschendorf, Kreis Grevesmühlen. Bodendenkmalpflege in Mecklenburg, Jahrbuch 1968, 49–59.

Schuldt, Ewald (1970e) Das große Ganggrab im Everstorfer Forst bei Naschendorf, Kreis Grevesmühlen. Bodendenkmalpflege in Mecklenburg, Jahrbuch 1968, 61–87.

Sprockhoff, Ernst (1967) Atlas der Megalithgräber Deutschlands. Part Two: Mecklenburg—Brandenburg—Pommern. Bonn: Habelt.

© Cornelius Holtorf