Some of you may have heard about the destruction of the Saxon Irminsul by Charlemagne (Karl der Große, Carolus Magnus) in 772. During his efforts to destroy the German tribe, Charlemagne destroyed the Saxon fort called (H)eresburg and the stone sanctity of the Irminsul that stood near. The fort stood near to what is now the town of Obermarsberg in Westfalen.
Only about 40 kilometres from this place, a more famous Irminsul could be found. It is not certain what the Irminsul at the “Extersteine” (near Paderborn) looked like or where is was located exactly (some writers say that the Irminsul destroyed by Charlemagne was the one at or near the Extersteine), but that the Extersteine were a Germanic sacred place is one thing that can be no doubt about. The stones themselves are strange ‘mountains’ upto 30 metres high that seem to have come straight up from the ground. A room is cut out of them, there is a stone ‘grave’ (used for initiations?), a gigantic god hanging against one of the mountains, the biggest stone-cutting of Europe and a temple all the way up one of the stones. The room was Christianised into a chapel and is now closed to the public. It is said that there are ancient drawings or texts on the walls inside. I only know about a rune-like figure for sure. Also there is something which may have been a ritual bath.
When I was at the Extersteine in the summer of 2004 I didn’t know about the “hangagod”. It is a figure that hangs as if he is nailed to a cross. The figure is partly formed by natural cracks, partly cut out manually. The figure is taken for being Odin, hanging from the Yggdrasil in order to learn the secret of the runes. Very well-known is the very detailed stone cutting with a scene of Christ being taken off the cross. A sun and a moon are present, some strange figures, the bottom part is said to be made by the Germans, while the Christians cut their own relief over it. Striking is the bend Irminsul on which one of the figures (Nicodemus according to some) is standing. This last may be a reference to the fact that the Germans indeed worshipped an Irminsul at the Extersteine and that the Christians wanted to show that their faith is better than the pagan superstition.