A few kilometers from the north-western German city of Detmold in the Lippe region of the country, there is a highly unusual rock formation. In an area otherwise devoid of large rocks, the soaring, slender columns of Externsteine stand out as they rise sharply and with no little majesty from the surrounding landscape.
The five standing sandstone pillars have been ornamented over the millennia by human hand. Although the name usually translates as stones of the ridge, many see these huge columns more romantically as star stones, a place resonant with ancient mysticism and ritual. Yet the true origins of the star stones can be discovered through geology.