|5 April 2006
In The Megalithic European, Julian pays little more than a double page spread of lip-service to the long, glorious island of Langeland off the southern coast of Fyn in Denmark, almost certainly due to lack of space in the book and time in the field. So I'm going to try to make up for that here and in my next blog (coming soon).
The thing that doesn't come over in Julian's commentary is the sheer variety, intensity and close proximity of monument after monument in this small finger of land. It took us two days to do it justice.
The bridges to get there are mercifully toll-free and the rolling countryside on the island is more enchanting even than the rest of Denmark. Langeland is home to scores of bird species and hares and deer abound. The main town on the island is Rudkøbing which felt very strongly like a far less bleak Kirkwall.
It was Moth's birthday and while we were waiting for our friends Cloudhigh and Roland Wyckwyre to join us for some lunch, we quickly zipped out of town to see Bjerrebygaard dolmen.
We arrived in blazing sunshine and galloped over the muddy field to reach the stunning monument, cluster of large stones, dolmens with giant capstones and six monster, gnarled 'pantomime' oak trees sticking out of a large mound. Very dramatic.
We spent some time enjoying it until the sky in the northwest darkened suddenly and a wall of weather closed in. We made it back to the car just in time as a full-on blizzard of hailstones pelted down.
We thought we'd take Cloudhigh and Roland Wyckwyre out to see two monuments guaranteed to delight even non-stone-huggers: Kong Humbles Grav and Ristinge Klint, a dolmen near a beach.
Kong Humbles Grav is in all the guidebooks as the most fabulous langdysser with exposed chambers in Langeland. So what we couldn't understand was the place that Julian's instructions took us to in TME…
…a most underwhelming, crescent shaped long embankment on top of a huge grassy mound overlooking the town of Humble, opposite the church.
Moth and I couldn't believe it. We were embarrassed to have taken our friends after the major build-up we'd given it. Something was wrong. We left disappointed and highly suspicious.
As I drove us to our next monument, Moth checked other guidebooks, including the Oldtidsminder På Langeland by Jens Bech of Langelands Museum and Jens Kortermann, a jewel among guidebooks (text all in Danish) but with brilliant maps and drawings.
Oops Julian! If you're reading this, I'm afraid you screwed up, sweetie. The underwhelming earthwork you call Kong Humbles Grav on page 168 of TME is no such thing. The real Kong Humbles Grav will stand up in two paragraphs' time.
Meanwhile come with us to the dolmen on Ristinge Klint, on a tiny, narrow peninsula, jutting out the west of Langeland. The rain, hail and sleet had passed and the beach was bathed in warm sunshine, the first time I'd not been cold whilst outside all week. We walked along the path up through the dunes and along the sandy cliffs above the deserted and beautiful beach until we reached this glorious erection:
It was much bigger than we dared hope from the tiny line drawing in the pamphlet we had. We were all delighted with it.
The *REAL* Kong Humbles Grav
We returned to where we'd previous been to see Kong Humbles Grav and found the real one with not too much trouble. Here's how to get there. Drive past the church and turn down the first farm track to the left, towards a beautifully kept pink and blue farm house with a monster yellow barn. Park here, put your money in the honesty box and walk north behind the white barn and follow the track through the field. Here is Kong Humbles Grav – a magnificent long barrow with squared off ends and lots of good kerbstones.
The main chamber in the middle is an exposed dolmen in superb condition.
Straw had been put on the ground in the chamber so I shot in, not only to get out of the bitter wind and the threat of rain but because it really was delightfully hygge in there!
Our friends departed and we pressed on towards Hulbjerg jaettestue from where I was thrilled to see a honey buzzard.
Hulbjerg is a classic little passage grave, with a good puffy domed mound and a transverse chamber coming off a narrow and low short passageway.
Beautifully restored and carefully tended, this is a model of care for our prehistoric past.
From here we drove to Myrebjerg jaettestue, past some wetlands and lakes crawling with tufted ducks, but the field was in crop and we couldn't get to it.
The Ormstrup langdysser looked promising and spectacular…
… but again the field was in crop and this no-entry sign made the situation pretty clear.
The Kindeballe dolmen was just round the corner from Ormstrup and a great surprise to see at the roadside.
Hesselbjerg langdysser is featured on page 168 of TME in an open watery landscape alive with swans and geese. Compared to other langdyssers we'd seen I found this one disappointing but Moth loved it.
I'd had enough at this point but Moth nipped out quickly to see Langdysser ved Ristinge Nor:
As we drove back towards the bridge to get us back to Fyn, we spotted this Dyssekammer i Herslev from the main road, the 305.
Ain't that sweet?
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
Posted by Jane
14th April 2006ce
Edited 17th April 2006ce
Jane's TMA Blog
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