The Wild Women of the Untersberg

The people of Grödig report that around the middle of the 17th century the wild women came down from the mountain to the boys and girls herding animals in the area of Glanegg1) and gave them bread and food. Furthermore, they came down to visit during the harvest time, arriving in the morning and left in the evening as the other people had dinner (without sharing the dinner), returning into the mountain.

On one day, a small boy sat on a horse which his father had put in front of a plow. The wild women appeared out of the mountain and attempted to take the boy by force, but his father, who was well-versed in the secrets and occurrences of the mountain, approached the woman without fear and took the boy away from them. He berated them: “How dare you go out of the mountain this often? And now you want to take away my boy as well? What do you want to do with him?” The wild women replied: “He will be taken good care of, he will live a better life than at home, and the boy is very dear to us - he will never suffer!” But the father never released the boy from his grasp, and the wild women left while weeping bitter tears.

At another time the wild women emerged near the ball mill2) and took a boy with them who had herded animals. This boy was seen by woodcutters one year later on a foothill of the same mountain, wearing green clothes. The following morning the woodcutters took his parents with them, but to no avail, and the boy was never seen again.

Source: Panzer, F. Bayerische Sagen und Bräuche. Beitrag zur deutschen Mythologie. Erster Band, 1848. p. 12.


A wild woman frequently went near the village of Anif, which was about half an hour distant from the mountain. She made holes into the ground and used them as bedding. She had very long and beautiful hair which almost reached down to the soles of her feet. A farmer from the village frequently saw this woman and fell in love with her mainly because of the beauty of her hair. He couldn't resist going to her and watched her with great pleasure. In the end he couldn't resist and in his simplicity he simply laid down in the hole next to her. They didn't say anything to each other, let alone do anything inappropriate.

But in the second night the wild woman asked the farmer: “Don't you have a wife of your own?” The farmer lied and replied “No!” But his wife was worried about where her husband was going in the evenings and where he spent the night. She spied after him and saw him sleeping in the field next to the Wild Woman. “My God”, she exclaimed to the wild woman, “your beautiful hair! What are you doing with each other!” With these words the woman stepped away from them, and the farmer was alarmed at this turn of events.

But the wild woman reproached the farmer over his faithless denial and told him: “If your wife had displayed anger and hatred against me, you would be very unhappy indeed and no longer be able to leave this place. But because your wife restrained herself, I will tell you this: Love your wife, and live with her faithfully, and don't dare come back to me. For it is written: Everyone shall live faithfully with their wedded wife - even though one day the respect for this commandment will decline greatly, and with this the all temporal wealth of married couples. Take this shoe full of money from me, leave, and don't look back.”

Source: Panzer, F. Bayerische Sagen und Bräuche. Beitrag zur deutschen Mythologie. Erster Band, 1848. p. 12f.


The caves of the Untersberg from which the wild women emerge are called the Iron Door. The older people frequently saw the wild women on the heights as they hung up white and red clothes for drying. There was often a wheel lying in front of the cave, and within the Untersberg a golden plow was said to be buried.


Source: Panzer, F. Bayerische Sagen und Bräuche. Beitrag zur deutschen Mythologie. Erster Band, 1848, p. 13f.

Notes & Commentary: Weird Locations: The Untersberg, Part 1


1)
Today, Glanegg is part of the town of Grödig.
2)
This is likely one of the so-called “Untersberger Marmorkugelmühlen”, a water-driven stone mill near the village of Marktschellenberg where stones are polished into spheres by water power. They are still in operation today, though primarily as a tourist attraction.