The history of the Mayener Grubenfeld begins with the eruption of the Bellerberg Volcano about 200,000 years ago. During the eruption the sides of the cinder cone split open in several places, so that three lava flows could form. One of the lava flows moved southwards, solidified and became the site of the Mayener Grubenfeld, which is one of the oldest and most important sites of basalt mining.
Here, the use of basalt as a raw material began about 7,000 years ago. Celts made so-called 'Napoleon’s hats', i.e. stones for grinding cereals, out of this raw material. About 2,000 years ago, Julius Caesar recognised the value of Mayen basalt for making good quality millstones. Basalt was then quarried from the Mayener Grubenfeld for centuries - right up until the 1950s. So we can find traces of Roman mining right next to a 20th century electric crane.
A circular trail, about two kilometres long, runs through the Mayener Grubenfeld, past the idyllic Silbersee lake and down into the solidified lava flow of the Bellerberg Volcano with its bizarre pillar formations. More than 50 illustrated information panels tell the story of the Mayener Grubenfeld.
The entrance to the Mayener Grubenfeld is through the information area of the Erlebniszentrum Grubenfeld (Mining and Quarrying Discovery Centre). Do not let this deter you from visiting the Grubenfeld, as there is no entrance fee for the information area. The whole of the Mayener Grubenfeld is open to visitors free of charge. And yet a visit to the Erlebniszentrum Grubenfeld exhibition area (for which there is an entrance fee) is highly recommended: The exhibition entitled 'SteinZeiten' ('Ages of Stone') is all about the history of basalt mining in the town of Mayen in the Eifel. Test your strength and discover how hard the stone breakers had to work!
You need to allow at least an hour for your walk through the Mayener Grubenfeld.
The entrance to the Mayener Grubenfeld is at: An den Mühlsteinen 7, 56727 Mayen.