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Einhornhöhle

Unicorn Cave


Useful Information

Image: The entrance to the Unicorn Cave.
Location: 2km northeast Scharzfeld, 15km southeast Osterode. A7 exit Seesen(Harz), B243 34km to exit Scharzfeld. Through Scharzfeld, turn left after the city center, paved single lane road 2km to parking lot, signposted. 300m walk to the cave.
Open: APR to OCT Tue-Sun 10-17, tours hourly on the full hour.
JAN to MAR Sat, Sun 11-16.
During Christmas School Holidays of Niedersachsen daily 11-16.
Last tour one hour before closing.
[2011]
Fee: Adults EUR 7.50, Children (6-12) EUR 4.50, Children (0-5) EUR 1.50.
Groups (20+): special rates with advanced reservation and payment in one amount.
[2011]
Classification:  Karst cave, horizontal cave, Zechstein-Dolomit
Light: electric
Dimension: L=610m, H=25m. GR: L=30m, H=12m.
Guided tours: L=492m, D=50min., St=60, V=15,000/a [2005].
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Fritz Reinboth (2001): Über das "vermeynte bey Quedlinburg gefundene Einhorn", Mitt. Verb. dt. Höhlen- u. Karstforsch. 47, H. 4, S. 106 - 107, München (Deutsch - German)
Ralf Nielbock (1990): Die Einhornhöhle-ein quartärwissenschaftliches Kleinod im Südharz , Mitt.Verb. dt. Höhlen- & Karstforscher, H.36 (2): S. 24-27, 2 Abb.; München 1990. (Deutsch - German)
Erich Thenius (1997): Neues vom Einhorn - Fabelwesen oder reale Existenz? Sage oder Wirklichkeit?, Natur und Museum, 127 (1), Frankfurt a.M., 1.1.1997, S. 1-10, 9 Abb. (Deutsch - German)
Klaus Duphorn (1969): Geologische Ergebnisse einer Grabung in der Einhornhöhle bei Scharzfeld am Harz, in: Der Südharz - seine Geologie, seine Höhlen und Karsterscheinungen, Jh. Karst- u. Höhlenkunde, Heft 9, München 1969.  online (Deutsch - German)
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: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2014/07/21 08:08:26 $

History

Image: the interesting ceiling of a chamber.
 
1541first mentioned in a land register, called Zwergenlöcher.
1583elaborate description by the chronist Letzner.
1686scientific excavation, description and trip report by Leibniz.
1729construction of a staircase for the expected visit of König Georg II., which was cancelled.
1748first mention with the name Einhorns-Loch.
1784visit by Goethes .
1872excavation by Virchow.
1902 bis 1910visits and reports by Hermann Löns.
1905construction of the entrance adit.
1908start of development, supervised by the Harzclub-Zweigverein Scharzfeld.
1956three year excavation campaign by Meischner.
1968excavations by Schütt.
1985-1988excavations by the Niedersächische Landesmuseum Hannover, Urgeschichtsabteilung, proved that Neanderthal man lived in the cave for long periods of time mor than 100,000 years ago.
01-JAN-2002cave closed for the public.
01-APR-2003cave reopened by the new administration.

Description

Image: the first chamber after the artificial entrance.

The Einhornhöhle (Unicorn Cave) is entered through an artificial tunnel at its end. The tour follows the main passage, which becomes bigger and bigger, until it reaches the Blaue Grotte (Blue Grotto), a huge chamber with collapsed roof. This is the natural entrance to the cave, it was used for thousands of years. From here the tour returns on the same trail. The guide explains the development of the cave, its history and the new archaeologic and palaeontologic discoveries made a few years ago. The replicas of a cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) and a cave lion (Pantera leo) explain the kind of animals which roamed the cave. The remains of Neanderthal man found in the cave are the reason for a Neanderthal diorama.

During the 20th century the Blue Grotto was the exit of the cave, the visitors left the cave here using a long iron staircase. The Schillerhalle to its left side was also part of the tour. The cupola has a very good acoustics, the guides demonstrated this with an Harzer Jodler. Yodeling has some tradition in the Harz, introduced by miners which moved to this area in the Middle Ages. But the stone stairs of hall are not straight enough for the law, the management was not able to get a permission and an insurance. Instead of replacing the historic stairs they decided to change the tour.

In the Unicorn Cave numerous prehistoric remains were discovered. The natural entrance, a steep shaft, was a trap for numerous animals, which could not leave the cave after they once fell in. Stone Age man used the cave too, probably entering it the same way used until the 18th century. The visitors cut a tree at the rim and threw it into the cave. Then they climbed into the cave using the tree as a ladder.

Image: the Blue Grotto, todays cave exit.

The name of the cave remembers a bone find in the cave. The famous mayor of Magdeburg, Otto von Guericke, tried to reconstruct the bones as a unicorn. Even Leibniz cited this discovery in his 1749 published Protagaea. The common people thought unicorn bones had magic healing powers, and so cave bear bones from the cave were processed into medicine for a very long time. Even stalactites were used for medicine, as their form resembled the horn of the unicorn. Today the cave has no speleothems left.

Otto von Guericke is famous for his experiment with the Magdeburger Halbkugeln (Magdeburg two hemispheres experiment). After inventing the air pump, he pumped the air out of two airtight hemispheres. The vacuum was so forcefull, even hitched horses were not able to pull the hemispheres apart. During subsequent pressure experiments he invented the barometer.

The cave was closed in 2002, because the former tenant (Harzklub-Zweigverein e.V.) discontinued his work. On the 01-JUN-2002 the Förder- und Betreiberverein "Gesellschaft Unicornu fossile", a non-profit society for the protection of the cave was formed. The society created a workplace for a cave warden which is partly financed by the unemployment insurance. The cave was reopened in spring 2003.


Einhornhöhle Gallery

See also


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