The “Great Monolith” and the Tertiary Quartzite “Devil’s Stone”

  • Geotope type: Single block of stone standing alone, menhir
  • Rocks: Tertiary or brown coal quartzite
    (Sweet water quartzite)
  • Geological period: Tertiary (Eocene to Oligocene)

When hiking through the Thümmlitz forest reserve near Grimma you will find numerous natural monuments. The trails are tidy and the many information boards prompt hikers to follow the trails of the stones. The most impressive of these are probably the “Devil’s Stone” and the “Great Monolith” right next to it.

When approaching it, the “Great Monolith” with its size of almost five metres can be seen from a distance. It is thus the highest single block of stone standing alone (menhir) in Saxony, and one of the highest in Germany. Menhirs (maen = “stone”, hir = “long”) are stones that were set upright by people in prehistoric times. They usually served as boundary stones or signposts, as with the “Great Monolith”. At the beginning of settlement history Thümmlitz forest was not the forest we know today, but rather a mixture of woodland and heath. The “Great Monolith” could be seen from miles away, and it served as a landmark between settlements. In the 1950s the stone fell over and broke into two pieces. It wasn’t until 1981 that both parts were put together again with cement and that the menhir was re-erected.

In comparison, the “Devil’s Stone” is somewhat less conspicuous than its upright neighbour. This is a natural slab of rock measuring about 3.3 x 3.6 metres. The middle of the slab contains a roundish hollow. Legend has it that the devil left his hoof print here, giving the stone its name.

04668 Grimma

Knollenstein „Teufelsstein“
N 51° 10′ 27.3; E 12° 50′ 23.2 (WGS 84)
4558836; 5671363 (Gauß-Krüger)
348996; 5671419 (UTM 33)

„Großer Monolith“
N 51° 10′ 26.96; E 12° 50′ 23.09 (WGS 84)
4558833; 5671352 (Gauß-Krüger)
348992; 5671408 (UTM 33)

Stadtverwaltung Grimma
Markt 16/ 17
04668 Grimma
Tel. 03437 98580

For privacy reasons Google Maps needs your permission to be loaded. For more details, please see our Datenschutz.
I Accept

MDV Fahrtenplaner

Tertiary quartzite of the “Great Monolith”, Photo: Anja Hartmann

Tertiary quartzite of the “Devil’s Stone”, Photo: Anja Hartmann

The “Great Monolith” and the “Devil’s Stone” are so-called Tertiary, brown coal, or also sweet water quartzite rocks. They developed during the time period of about 37 to 30 million years ago in the coastal lowlands of the ancient tertiary North Sea, which can be roughly compared to today’s Leipzig Lowland Bay. Quartz was able to dissolve into crystalline silica in seepage water and was then transported to deeper lying sand and gravel layers. Here the crystalline silica was deposited in a solid form as quartz again, and this in turn led to a cementation (silicification) of these layers. The rocks were later partly surrounded by inland glacial ice during the glacial period. Quartzite would often emerge in the shape of a loaf of bread which is referred to as a Knollenstein (“bulging stone”) in German. The Tertiary quartzite is a hard, tough, durable and weather-resistant rock. The material was used in the last century to make fireproof ceramic products such as refractory lining for ovens. A well-known site where Tertiary quartzite was mined was Glossen near Mügeln in the Geopark Porphyrland.

The “Great Monolith” – Saxony’s biggest menhir, Photo: A. Hartmann

Original site of Tertiary quartzite (top) in the Profen brown coal opencast mine, Photo: Rascher

Field railway in Glossen used to transport the mined tertiary quartzite, Photo: PLA.NET