|Image: the courtyard of the cave.|
|Location:||At Scharzfeld, 15km southeast of Osterode. A7 exit Seesen(Harz), B243 34km to exit Scharzfeld, at the city limts turn first left, parking under B243 bridge. Trail to the cave about 200m signposted. (37,Lc39)|
|Classification:||Kalkhöhle, Halbhöhle, Abri, Höhlenruine|
|Dimension:||L=30m, H=8m, forecourt 25m.|
|Address:||Gesellschaft Unicornu fossile e.V., Geschäftsstelle Einhornhöhle, Dr. Ralf-D. Nielbock, Im Strange 12, 37520 Osterode am Harz, Tel: +49-5522-31593-85, Fax: +49-5522-31593-86, Handy +49-160-96753324. E-mail:|
|Stand:||$Date: 2011/12/13 08:47:20 $|
|Image: inside the Steinkirche.|
The Steinkirche (rock church) is a huge, nearly rectangular chamber with a triangular courtyard. The cave is located high above the town Scharzfeld at the slopes of the Harz. During the Ice Ages this cave was cut through by a valley and so became open for human influences. At the end of the Old Stone Age (15.000-8.000 BC) the cave was frequented by deer hunters. This was proved by several flint tools which were excavated in the cave.
After the area was christianized, the place was probably used as a church. Worships were held in the cave until the 14th century. But ther is no written evidence of this. The only arguments for this theory are the name of the cave (Steinkirche means stone church) and local legends. Also excavations on the courtyard revealed the remains of a medieval graveyard.
In the era of the crusades, the cave was turned into a replica of the grave. The alterations are clearly visible in the cave and on the cliff faces around the courtyard. The form of the recesses aroud the cave entrance insinuate a wooden gate. Some remains of walls, tiles, and gothic tracery make additional buildings most likely.
However, the legend that the 500 years old church bell of Scharzfeld once hang here, is most likely untrue.
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