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Als well that ends at Baronens Høj

Als is a small island off the south eastern coast of Jutland, Denmark, linked to the mainland by a toll-free bridge. It's got a few pretty HOT monuments...

Blommeskobbel (page 155 of TME) is tucked away in woodland off a muddy track – which thankfully you can drive to because it was raining again.

The trees gave some shelter but it was as damp and muddy and joyless as you could ever want. Blommeskobbel cheered me though. How could it not? The site consists of two langdyssers and two round barrows, with good kerbing, nicely exposed chambers and lots of character.

I had looked forward to Blommeskobbel not just because the name sounds so cool and it means flower stones in Danish, but because when I first saw page 155 of Julian's 'The Megalithic European' [TME] I knew it wouldn't be long before I would have get to Denmark.

I would have liked to have painted here but it was too grey, too damp, too miserable. The weather was forecast to dry up later, but there was no sign of that as we headed up the coast a tiny bit from Blommeskobbel towards Nørreskov, 5 kms away.

The Nørreskov monuments
We'd spotted Nørreskov in James Dyer's book 'Discovering the Archaeology of Denmark' and as we were so close thought we'd take a look even if we hade already found Dyer to be slightly unreliable, banging on about finds and stuff rather than the monuments. (It's always bloody pottery sherds and amber beads, too.)

Our first Nørreskov monument was at Frydendal Kro in the strip of woodland leading down to the sea. Here we found a rather cute little dolmen emerging out of a round barrow…

…. and right next to it, a short barrow (it wasn't long) with a good stone cist in the top.

Dyer suggested that there were others lurking in the woods like which went on for a few kilometres hugging the coast, like this one we just happened across…

The woods had some nice rough but driveable tracks running through it, one of which had a very promising name…

As it had suddenly stopped raining and it looked as if even the sun might appear, we drove along spotting birds (jays, an unidentified-but-mighty-raptor and a goldcrest!) and any suspicious humps with stones. We spotted a couple which were deeply underwhelming, but then rounded a corner and found ourselves face to face with the Havredyssers.

The road ran between them.

Each of them were great with plenty of high mound, kerbstones, cists and a chamber.

Moth strode off into the woods to seek out the Gamle Troldhøj (the Old Troll's Hill) …

…while I sat in the car and had a cuppa like a miserable-and-fed-up-with-the-rain old cow. Three days of low cloud, brisk breezes and cold rain and had taken its toll on my mood.

Dyer suggested another monument 5kms through the woods to look at. Despite feeling like 'I just wanna go home' we went to seek out what Dyer describes as: 'a fine round dolmen with a central burial chamber and a ring of kerbstones', the Baronens Høj. He should have just said: 'it's f*cking ace, Jane!'

The setting, the construction, the character and the fact that the sun came out while we were there lifted my heart! What a beautiful place. It perches like a little crown 25 feet above the sea in a clearing which it shares with an old farmhouse.

It reminded me of Innisidgen on Scilly which 'feels' the same. Its immediate neighbour, the old farmhouse was that very distinctive shade of Danish yellow and its thatch was thickly covered in moss. When the sun came out it glowed green and bright – it felt like it was the first time I'd seen Denmark in colour. That was it. Time to get the paints out. At bloody last!

This is what I managed to sketch.

On the way back to our cottage as we travelled through south Jutland, we sought out the Hjulgraven at an industrial estate at Hjordkær a picture of which Moth had found on the internet and looked very promising. In fact it was crap, so don't bother with it.

Badly restored barrows with not much more to see than concrete markers. Shame. Although the factory next door did have a very interesting collection of electricity-generating windmill parts.

Høj – hill or mound
Jættestue – literally 'giant's stones'
Skibssætning – megalithic longship
Ringdysser – mound or barrow with stones or burial chamber
Dyssekammer – dolmen or burial chamber, I think!
Langdysser – long barrow with stones and/or burial chamber

Photos: Moth Clark and Jane Tomlinson

Jane Posted by Jane
11th April 2006ce
Edited 12th April 2006ce

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