Iron Man – Swisttal, Germany - Atlas Obscura

Iron Man

Swisttal, Germany

This mysterious pig iron pillar does not rust, despite being weathered by the elements for centuries. 


An unusual pillar stands within a storybook German forest. Just like the dense woodland surrounding it, the chunk of metal has inspired strange tales of its own.

Known as the Iron Man (der Eiserne Mann in German), this old iron pillar is an unexpected item to stumble upon. Strangely, the metal marker does not rust, despite withstanding centuries of rain.

It’s partially buried in the ground, making it look like the rectangular chunk of metal has always called this plot of earth home. However, that isn’t quite the case. The pillar has only stood within the forest since the early 18th century, pinpointing the spot where a few walking trails meet. According to one 17th-century document, it was previously used to mark a village boundary.

In the 1970s, metallurgical tests were conducted on the pillar, as people have long been curious about why it doesn’t rust. This investigation revealed it was made by someone pouring pig iron into an earthen trench, which is a medieval ironworking method.

Naturally, given the marker’s odd appearance and mysterious history, stories have popped up surrounding it. Some tell tales of strange travelers who visit the marker in the night, while others say the structure is an out-of-place artifact that gives a glimpse of an unknown part of Germany’s past.

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February 23, 2018

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