Wildmannlisloch - Höhle am Selunerruck

Useful Information

Location: At the northern slopes of Mt Seluns, one of the seven Churfirsten. From Starkenbach take the Selunbahn (cable car), then 10 minutes walk to the cave. Ascend by foot 2.5h.
Open: No restrictions. Concerning snow summer and autumn are recommended. [2007]
Fee: free [2007]
Classification:  Karst cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=192.1m, VR=2.4m, A=1,628m asl.
Guided tours:  
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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Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:52:32 $


1703first written account by the priest Johann Heinrich Scherrer.
1819first use of the name Wildenmannlisloch.
15-JUL-1906first exploration by Emil Bächler.
01-OCT-1923start of extensive excavations by Emil Bächler and Alfred Ziegler.
1927excavations completed, a total of 218 excavation days.


The Wildenmannlisloch (Hole of the Wild Man) is a very easy small cave on the mountain range called the Churfirsten. Located on the northern slopes of Mt Seluns, it is reached from the Selns Alpe. The cave is not very impressive from the speleologic view, but it is an important excavation site.

The cave is known for a very long time. It was used by ancient man for millennia, it was often visited or at least known during history. It became an important part of local legends which exaggerated the size of the cave. One legend tells it was home to the two feet high wilde Männlein (wild men), a sort of legendary dwarfs which were friendly to people. They helped people and sometimes came into the valley to do some work. But after a shepard gave them some food and another one some clothes, they were never seen again. This is obviously the origin of the cave name. Stories about passages high enough to drive a wagon inside and several hours walk long reveal that many people talked about the cave but few really visited it.

The first written mention was made by the priest Pfarrer Johann Heinrich Scherrer from Alt St. Johann in 1703. In his book Beschreibung der Toggenburgischen Gebirge (Description of the Mountains of Toggenburg) he tells about the sixth of the Churfirsten, the Luner- or Selunerruck, which has a hole below its peak. But he did not mention a name, the name Wildenmannlisloch appeared first in the booklet Zwinglis Geburtsort (Zwinglis Birthplace) by the priest Pfarrer J. Fr. Franz.

The history of the Wildenmannlisloch is connected with Emil Bächler, a famous local archaeologist and naturalist. The first exploration on the 15-JUL-1906 revealed teeth and bones of cave bears (Ursus spelaeus). But it took more than twenty years, until 01-OCT-1923, to start extensive excavations at the cave. Emil Bächler and Alfred Ziegler excavated the cave during five years, always in the autumn. During 218 excavation days they discovered the remains of 50 one to eight years old cave bears. But unlike other bear cave they discovered a skull very far inside the cave, which they interpreted as human influence, probably cultic actions. They also discovered the bones of other mammals like cave lion, chamois, marmot, snow rabbit (Lepus timidus), wolf, and fox, but only in much lesser numbers. They also found an artifact, a stone tool made of green, oily quartzite which is not found in this area. Ancient man must have brought this tool from far away. However, no human bones were found, which is interpreted as use as a hunter station, but not for burials. His colle

See also

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