The North German town of Haldensleben in Saxony-Anhalt is near Magdeburg in the former East Germany. The area has one of the largest concentrations of hunebeds in Central Europe. In just one area to the west of Haldesleben, measuring 20 square kilometres, there are no less than 85 hunebeds. Research shows that there used to be another 48 in the same area. So, high time for a visit …

A route called the Gräberweg (‘Tomb route’) has been laid out in the woods, although the starting point is not easy to find. But once you have begun it is impossible to go wrong, there are hunebeds everywhere. It is an impressive sight.

The start of the route
You soon reach the first hunebed

Some hunebeds have been restored and the plugstones between the large boulders have been renewed. This gives a good idea of how they must once have looked. Today we usually see only a pile of stones placed one above the other but here, with a little bit of imagination, you see a hunebed just as it might have appeared more than 5,000 years ago. They were skilfully built with a burial mound of turfs and sand, plugstones, a chamber beneath and probably a wooden door at the entrance. The hunebeds were probably wind- and water-tight so that the inside would have remained dry.

Restored hunebed with an obvious entrance
Inside the same hunebed. The plugstones between the large boulders can clearly be seen.
Not all hunebeds are easily accessible
Now and then a stone sticks out above the shrubs, marking the remains of a hunebed
Occasionally you find an information board which includes approximate dates
The largest of all the hunebeds here, known as the Küchentannen
The Küchentannen

It is all a bit chaotic, and the hunebeds have not been restored in the way that we would do it here in the Netherlands. As we reached the Küchentannen a sudden thunderstorm began – time to go home.

You can find more information about the hunebeds around Haldensleben (in German only) on the website im Haldenslebener Forst

Text                             Harrie Wolters

Translation                 Alun Harvey


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