Hohlenstein-Stadel - Kleine Scheuer - Bärenhöhle

Useful Information

Location: Lonetal (Lone valley).
A7 (E43) exit Langenau, through Langenau to Rammingen, turn left to Lindenau. From Lindenau by foot north 1 km.
(48°32'57.57"N, 10°10'20.75"E)
Open: no restrictions. [2007]
Fee: free. [2007]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave ArchaeologyAbri
Light: bring torch
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: Joachim Hahn, Hansjürgen Müller-Beck, Wolfgang Taute: Eiszeithöhlen im Lonetal. Archäologie einer Landschaft auf der Schwäbischen Alb
Konrad Theiss Verlag Stuttgart, 1985, Broschiert, 200 Seiten, ISBN: 3806202222. (Deutsch - German)
Address: Stadtverwaltung Langenau, Rathaus, Marktplatz 1, 89129 Langenau, Tel: +49-7345-9622144, Fax: +49-7345-9622155. E-mail: contact
Guided Walks: Hermann Häußler, Achstraße 44 a, 89129 Langenau, Tel: +49-7345-6719, Cell: +49-172-7848347. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1861 first excavations by Oskar Fraas.
1866 Fraas realizes the origin of the found flints.
1937 excavations by Robert Wetzel.
1939 abrupt end of the excavations due to the begin of World War II.
1954 restart of excavations by Robert Wetzel.
1961 abrupt end of excavation because of death of Robert Wetzel.
2017 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


The Hohlenstein (literally Hollow Rock) is not a cave, it is a limestone cliff at the southern rim of the Lonetal (Lone valley). It is hollowed by numerous small caves, hence the name. The caves are Hohlenstein-Stadel (barn), die kleine Scheuer (small barn) and the Bärenhöhle (Bear's Cave). Stadel and Bärenhöhle are true caves, the Kleine Scheuer is just an overhanging cliff face, a type of shelter called abri by archaeologists. All three caves are important palaeontological and archaeological locations. Like the other famous places along the Lonetal they were excavated in the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. Today the cave sediments are almost completely removed.

The first excavations were made by the former priest Oskar Fraas in the year 1861. He was in search for palaeologic remains, especially bear bones, and was very successful at the Bärenhöhle: he removed 88 skulls and more than 10,000 bone fragments. Because of this the formerly unnamed cave was dubbed Bärenhöhle (Bear's Cave). But although he had this enormous success, the excavation was pure vandalizm. He concentrated so much on bears bones, but threw away anything else. Important archaeological sediments were dug out with shovels, the structure of the findings destroyed, anything but bear bones thrown on huge piles. He noticed this himself, during his second excavation in 1866, and moaned about the destruction he created. And this is one of the milestones of modern archaeology: when he learned that the thousands of flint pieces he found were remains of man. This was the discovery of the Stone Age.

The second excavation was pretty short. In 1939 the archaeologist Robert Wetzel from the Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte from Tübingen started his excavation, but soon World War II started and the excavation was fast-paced shut down. This is the explanation, why the most impressive finding of this excavation, a lionheaded figurine, was excavated but then stored in a paper box for decades and forgotten. After the war Robert Wetzel dedicated many findings, including many pieces of mammoth ivory, to the Ulmer Museum (Museum of Ulm). There they were again forgotten until 30 years after the discovery Joachim Hahn discovered the traces of carving on the small pieces. He reconstructed the headless body of the figure from more than 200 pieces. Again 20 years later Elisabeth Schmid discovered more pieces of ivory, of course in the magazin of the museum, not in the cave, and completed the head.

Robert Wetzel returned to the Hohlenstein in 1954 and excavated the caves for several years. When he died rather young in 1961 the excavations ended again abruptly. But the findings of this excavations were spectacular. The femor, the thigh bone of a Neanderthal is one of only very few bones ever found of those humans in southern Germany. The burial of three heads of people who suffered a violent dead, a man, a woman, and a child, originates from the Mesolithic, about 9,000 BP. The socalled Knochentrümmerstätte (bone fragment sanctuary) was a pit at the cave entrance which contained more than 1,000 bone fragments of at least 54 individuals. It is dated to the Neolithic, about 6,000 BP. Today this is interpreted as secondary burial, the first theory about canibalism is disproved by modern forensic methods. All those findings are shown in the Ulmer Museum.