Brilon-Petersborn Olsberg-Elleringhausen (51.355981 | 8.530338)

Mourning and redemption

Wooded mountain peak (670 m) with early medieval ring wall and burial site, peace oak and Friedenskapelle.

The path leads through a kind of gate. On the left and on the right, a mighty rampart made of carefully piled up flat slate stones once protected those seeking shelter from the attackers. A second gate follows for safety. We enter a wide plateau. Suddenly Dagmar Bereiter, who led me up the Borberg with her husband Jochen, stops and says, "Phew, I'm getting goose bumps." I look at my arms: same thing with me! At the same time, I notice that not a single bird's voice can be heard. Except for a raven, which makes a lonely circuit around the mountain with hoarse calls. Jochen points to an oak tree that dominates the square in front of us: "It has seen much suffering in the course of its life." I realize that soul places can trigger very different resonances. Feelings of grief are also part of it.

Dagmar, Kneipp animator and Qigong teacher, obviously has a special sense for energies. "On the Borberg, I can feel: Many people have died up here, many have been buried." The nearly two-hectare plateau on the Rothaarsteig, in the midst of mixed forest, was a rampart castle in the 8th century, to which people from the surrounding villages fled when enemies were approaching. They took with them all the essentials of life to be able to hold out on the mountain for many months if necessary, household goods and seeds, cows and chickens. They even managed to get hold of vital water at this altitude. Jochen's feet scrape free an iron plate that covers the former well: "They must have dug many meters deep until they hit water."

Nahaufnahme steinerne Bank

He tells of Charlemagne, who had his palace nearby, in Marsberg on the Eresburg, but often came to the 600-meter-high Borberg because here he could see far into the Ruhrtal. A medieval emperor enjoying the view? "No, he was concerned with the strategic advantages. It was possible to spot approaching units of the enemy Saxons from afar. And place one's own soldiers accordingly."

800 years later, again times of war, this time the Thirty Years, again the mountain became a place of refuge. In the valleys, the plague was ravaging the people. The dead were taken to the plateau and buried there. Also the robbers, murderers and other "disgraceful". Out of sight, out of mind. Blood-soaked earth as a place of power? Dagmar says, "Many places draw their power from events that were violent and later underwent a healing."

On Borberg, that transformation began in 1925. People of faith wanted to overcome the horror of World War I, wanted to reconcile Germans and French, arch enemies. A chapel was built and dedicated to the "Queen of Peace Mary". The Peace League of German Catholics invited year after year to rallies and common prayers. In 1931, Franz Stock, a priest born in Neheim, who had been committed to international understanding since his youth, planted an oak tree in the middle of the plateau, together with people from many countries who had been involved in the First World War. A natural monument for growing charity.

Blick vom Borberg

Does a place have to evoke cozy feelings to be considered a "soul place"? My two companions answer in the negative. "Loss and grief are part of our lives," says Jochen. And Dagmar adds, "If we're willing to consciously feel the pain, it can turn into positive energy." On the Borberg, this transformation seems to have taken place: The experience of violence turned into a longing for peace.

This awareness is what they are about when they lead groups of people through the Sauerland landscape. They encourage people to pause and perceive their surroundings with all their senses. Doesn't the rustling in the treetops sound different here than ten meters away? Why has this beech grown straight, the one next to it swerved to the right? How does the ground feel under your feet? Ultimately, it's not about the landscape at all. It is only a mirror. To see yourself in it again or to discover completely new sides of yourself. A mountain as a mirror of the soul.

Author: Michael Gleich

A natural monument to growing charity.

Michael Gleich

You can reach the Borberg best from:

Hilbringse hikers' parking lot.

Small, fascinating round tour over the historic Borberg with great views, exciting excavations and a nice place to stop for refreshments.

For further information please contact the Tourist-InformationBrilon-Olsberg: Tel: 0 29 62 - 97 37 0, E-Mail:

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