Station: [14] Cist Grave

The cist grave is the oldest surviving evidence of human life on Heligoland. It dates back to the Bronze Age, which makes it around 3,500 years old. 

The grave was discovered in 1890. A remarkably well-preserved male skeleton was found inside it, along with two funerary objects made of bronze: a dagger and a decorative pin. The significance of the find was such that it was not allowed to remain on the island. Instead, it was taken to the Ethnologica Museum in Berlin.

In the Second World War, the grave goods were lost, as was all knowledge regarding the origins of the cist grave. It stood in Charlottenburg Palace Park in Berlin, covered in graffiti it was used as a seat. Only when the Berlin collections were reorganised, after German reunification, was the cist grave again given a place of honour, this time on Museum Island in Berlin.

When Heligoland Museum heard of the existence of this Bronze Age grave, it started work. For four years, restorers and museum management worked closely together. The restorers produced a 3-D scan, using a milling machine to make a plaster model, and finally cast the slabs encasing the tomb. Then, the moment had come: the Heligoland cist grave returned to the island in August 2014 in the shape of a faithful reconstruction.

All depictions: © Nordseemuseum Museum Helgoland