Stein Castle is the most important cave castle in Germany. The origins of the upper house are not totally clear. It may have stemmed from a fortification dating to the Roman or Celtic period. Stein was first recorded in 1135. The romantic figure of the legendary robber knight, Hainz von Stein dem Wilden, is closely associated with the castle. He is supposed to have lived in the castle in the early 13th century and was written about for the first time by Lorenz Huebner in 1783.
The castle itself was in the possession of the Toerring family from the 13th century to 1633 . Albert von Toerring-Stein was the Bishop of Regensburg from 1613 to 1649. Adam Lorenz von Toerring-Stein held the same office from 1663 to 1666.
Count Carl Fugger von Kirchberg bought the property from the Toerrings in 1633. Later it passed by marriage to the lords of Lösch.
In 1818 a 2nd class patrimonial court was established in the old Hofmark in the wake of reforms in Bavaria. In 1845 Amélie de Beauharnais, widow of the emperor of Brazil, bought Stein Castle for herself and her daughter. In 1848 she ceded the Stein Court to the state as compensation.
In 1890 Stein Castle went to Count Joseph zu Arco-Zinneberg. In 1928 the Arco-Zinneberg had to cut down the great St. George's Forest in order to sell the wood to get out of debt. Despite that they had to sell up, the forest was possessed by the state and was immediately reforested.
Upper house, rock castle and lower house are today the property of the newly built Stein Castle Brewery (Schlossbrauerei Stein), founded in 1907, which has been in the ownership of the Wiskott family since 1934. The lower house in Stein has housed a private boarding school since 1948, the Schule Schloss Stein.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.