The following stories were requested by Erin McGann, who wished for stories from Heidelberg (where she currently lives).
The Legend of the Giants’ Stone
The towering masses of the Riesenstein (“Giants’ Stone”) rock rise up boldly to the west and south of the castle ruins of Heidelberg - a rock perched upon another rock.
Of this formation the following legend is told:
In ancient times, when Heidelberg hadn’t been founded yet and the castle had not yet been built on its heights, a giant came from distant lands - nobody knows where from. The giant settled down on the right-handed side of the river Neckar together with his son. He held in his hands strange plants indeed, and for those he dug holes into the ground with his hands and lowered them down with their roots. Then they grew there, and from their fruits he pressed the most delicious wine. And the people beheld with astonishment and fear the activities of the strange man. But from time to time the old one was away from the mountain and left only his boy behind. The boy enjoyed gathering rocks or plucking them from the mountain and letting them roll downhill so that they would fall into the Neckar and dam the splashing water. These rocks would bar the way for the boatmen traveling down the river, and some of them are still seen within the Neckar today. And when the old one returned and saw this, he felt mighty joy at the pasttime of the boy.
But when he returned from one of his travels one day, the young giant asked him from where he came and where he went to every time he left the mountain. Then the old one said that he had great pleasure in journeying to the cities of the human and starting fights with them as well as tearing down their walls. Then the giant’s son told his father: “Take me with you when you go abroad next time, so that I can return with the same merry face as you from this foray!” But the old giant replied: “I must first test your strength to see if you are ready for such a venture, and thus shall give you a task to this end.” And he ripped out the largest rock from the mountain, swung it in his hands, and hurled it far beyond the Neckar so that it tore deeply into the ground when it crushed the forest on the other side.
But when the young giant saw this, he was thrilled and ripped an even larger rock out of the mountain with his hands. Then he likewise swung it and hurled it through the whistling air so that it fell right on the center of the other rock and pushed it even deeper into the trembling ground. But the father became fearful of the strength of his own son and turned around and walked away into the wide world. Undeterred, the son followed him in a merry mood. Where they went nobody has heard, and they never came back. But the rocks, which they had hurled across the river, are called the Riesenstein - “Giants’ Stone” - until this day.
 I.e. the northern side of the river, while both the castle and the Riesenstein rock are on the southern side of the Neckar.
Commentary: Heidelberg, which is located in the southwestern part of Germany, is in the middle of a large wine-growing area - as I can personally attest from my many bicycle trips into the region. Nevertheless, it’s not quite clear to me whether the elder giant is actually supposed to have introduced grapes to the region (which explains why they would be considered “strange” by the locals), or if he used another type of fruit to make some other kind of alcoholic beverage.
Like in the earlier story “The Giantess of Mirow”, giants throwing rocks is used to explain an impressive local rock formation. And as in the previous stories, the giants aren’t around anymore - their continued presence would be hard to explain from the perspective of a 19th century storyteller, while ghosts and other spirits lurking around at night or in nearby Otherworlds are easier to justify.
The Neckar Sacrifice in the St. John’s Night
When a fisher ventures out on the quietly gurgling flow during St. John’s Night in order to set fish traps or check fishing lines to see if any fish have been caught by them, he sometimes hears groaning or loud shouting out of the water as if someone was in danger of drowning. But that person should beware of rowing towards such calls or even replying to them. For it is the spirit of the Neckar himself who searches for a living soul during that night and wants to attain power over it. And when someone follows that call, they will be pulled into the depths and then the empty boat floats downriver through the silent night to the abodes of the humans.
But if a child of men were to have the desire to refresh their bodies during the balmy night with a cool bath, then they - man or boy - should readily pledge their souls to God. For if God does not take them into his benevolent protection, they are doomed beyond the hope of rescue. They are grabbed by their feet and dragged down to the cold bottom of the river. And the next day their clothes are found at the shore, and their pitying neighbors will search for the dead person so that they can be buried in the graveyard but fail to find them. For three days and three nights all searching will be for naught, for the corpse lies fixed to the bottom of the river. On the fourth day the corpse begins to rise and the gurgling water no longer keeps it and throws it at the shore. But around the neck they will wear a blue ring - a clear sign that the Neckar spirit has had power over them and strangled them during St. John’s Night.
Author’s Note: Based on Nadler’s “Neckarsage” (“Neckar Legend”) in the Badisches Sagenbuch, p. 479-480. This certainly ancient legend is connected with the prohibition of the heathen water cult, which was for example connected to Frau Holla in the form of a water woman and which was expressed through the celebrations and bonfire during the shortest night of the year.
 The German term was “Setzangel” - a fishing line that was not held in the hand but set into the river without constant observation. These days this is deemed unnecessarily cruel as caught fish will twitch on the hook for many hours at an end, and indeed most regional fishing regulations in Germany forbid the practice.
 While the German term “Neckargeist” had the male gender and I went with the male form in the translation, this might merely be the case because the root word “Geist” is a “male” noun - the Neckar spirit might just as well be female or genderless without the narrator knowing.
 I.e. pray to God and ask for his protection.
 The German text used the slightly poetic “Gottesacker” - “God’s Field” - for “graveyard”.
 The original version can be found here. Since that version is in poetic form, I decided to stick with this prose version.
Commentary: As we shall see in future stories, water spirits in German folklore - especially male water spirits - tended to be very, very murderous. Perhaps unsurprisingly, since they represented the fear of drowning (a frequent occurrence in those days before widespread swimming courses in public schools).
I am somewhat less convinced of connecting this water spirit to Frau Holla (one of the major “Crone” figures of German folklore similar to Frau Gauden) or to the common St. John’s bonfires still found in the German countryside to this day, but perhaps future examinations of further tales will yield additional clues on this.