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Katbjerg and the Spanskhøj mystery solved

4 April 2006 …
…continued from previous blog …

We pressed on northwards towards the charming cobbled-paved town of Mariager where Hohøj, the largest mound in Scandinavia is found.

It is situated at the highest point hereabouts and from the top of its 12metre high bulk there are glorious views. Silbury it ain't, but it is impressive anyway. Legend has it that it was once inhabited by a pig-scoffing troll.

Don't miss the Katbjerg monuments
On route 555 out of Mariager, Moth had found our next set of monuments on the internet. We could find no printed information about the monuments at Katbjerg at all which is almost criminal, because the long barrow called Kongehøjen ved Voldstedlund is the finest long barrow we had ever seen. , Yes, seriously!

This monument was untrashed and probably not much restored. It was long – perhaps 25 metres and rectangular with a continuous line of big kerbstones. And tall, too! The mound billowed upwards along the entire length of the monument, completely undenuded.

No fancy horned forecourts here though; instead just really whopping stones at each end. Down one side are two low passageways, each leading to a large intact chamber. Oooh! Oooh! OOOOH! This place blew our minds.

Fifty metres directly west is the ruins of a round barrow which has lost much of its material but still has a chamber to see.

Now badly overgrown and rather unkempt, this is home a families of blue tits.

Continuing west on the 555 you don't need your specs on to notice the Jordhøj and Ormhøj barrows, sited on the same east-west line as Kongehøjen ved Voldstedlund long barrow

These are gigantic! We didn't bother to walk over to them as the clouds threatened to do something evil again, there was nowhere to park at the roadside and no obvious track through the field to get to these huge barrows, with their south east facing entrances.

Yikes! Julian gets it wrong
It was late in the day and I was døgntired after already having driven more than 170 miles north. We still had 115 miles to get back to our cottage, but we couldn't miss what Julian calls Spanskhøj on page 159 of TME.

After reaching Snæbum* we saw the sign to drive into a farm courtyard. Before we had even turned the engine off, a kind woman had scurried out with a huge torch for us to view inside the mound. We dropped our 6kr kroner each in the honesty box, took an informative homemade leaflet and set off through the thick smell of pig poo to the field with the mounds.
*yes, we tittered, too!

Spanskhøj, Snibhøj and one other flattened double-entranced mound stand in the same field. But don't be mistaken, as Julian apparently was. The picture in TME is not of Spanskhøj it is Snibhøj. Both the information leaflet we picked up on site and James Dyer are clear about this.

Snibhøj is very special.

I'd never seen a monument like it…

… two passageways, two fabulous chambers one of which housed this tiny, sleepy bat.

Immediately next to Snibhøj this is all that is left of its once identical neighbour. We couldn't find its name.

Spanskhøj stands tall and proud at the other side of the field. We drove round to see if we could get in. We couldn't. It was quite tousled with vegetation and had no clear path to it. It certainly had two passages but there was no way we could get in.

Well, now you know for your next edition, Julian, if you're reading this.

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
13th April 2006ce

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