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Langeland: more lovelies

7 April 2006

We were so wowed with Langeland that we felt another trip was necessary. I liked the close proximity of all the monuments and their variety (it's a bit like Carnac in that respect) and the delightful drumlin-hilly landscape.

I was feeling quite miserable due to the terrible cold weather and long driving days we'd had. I felt sure that Langeland would cheer me, especially as the sky was blue and the sun was shining. Next time we're going somewhere hot – like Sardinia – Moth promised. (Or Africa, I hoped.)

We started at Skovsgard megalithic longship tucked away in some leafless late winter woodland in the east on the island. The stones were all there, but all fallen down and thick with acid green carpet moss.

At one end the stone was bigger, like a prow. If only they could be re-erected, this'd be a corker.

Just a five minute drive away (everything here is just a five minute drive away) the Kædeby dolmen lurks in a hedgerow to the south of Kædeby.

It's isn't that easy to find as there are no heritage signs to it and no information board. It's not until you're right up close do you realise the enormous bulk and height of the capstone. As we approached Moth disturbed a sleeping hare, and two deer on the path ahead of us didn't notice our approach until we got quite close.

There were some cupmarks on the capstone showing up clearly in the low sun, but I'm no rock art aficionado and was not whelmed.

The Annemolehøj jættestue is just across the road from the Dyssekammer i Herslov which we had noticed at the roadside the day before.

This was lovely. As usual, the information board displayed lots of useful text in Danish, but from what we could glean the usual potsherds, ritual axes and amber beads were found.

This passage grave had a wide transverse chamber which once you were inside it felt inconceiveable that such a large stone structure could be hidden under such an unassuming little mound.

On a line within sight of the Dyssekammer I Herslov and the Annemolehøj jættestue is yet another monument, the Langdysser I Herslov, but it looked unkempt and had no visible access from the road.

Ringelshøj is a long barrow like Hulbjerg and is tucked away in trees. It was pretty unkempt, but at one time was yet another monster.

Moth noticed Pæregårdstrand dysser on a map and wanted me to see it because he knows how much I love beachside monuments. Pæregårdstrand dysser is about 1000ms along the beach perching on the sandy cliffs, 7 metres above the seashore.

Unfortunately it was overgrown, forgotten and largely trashed, despite its stunning location and the fact that it was once a large monument with three chambers and good sized kerbstones.
The walk back along the deserted beach under virtually cloudless skies was wonderful.

I liked Kong Renes Høj a lot.

It's not hard to see why. We were particularly intrigued with the capstone of one of the dolmens which someone at some point had tried to cut into pieces. They failed to complete the job and left the chunk they'd removed where it lay.

We stopped briefly for Moth to see the very long Langdysser nord Forfrettesvig, but it was in crop and he couldn't get to it.

Tvedeskov is fascinating. Tucked away in woods this double passage grave has lost all its caps but this gives the advantage of being able to see its design. A nice job was made when it was excavated and restored in 1978.

Our final monument on Langeland was the disappointingly abandoned and probably only just tolerated Jaettestue i Skovtofte. In a pine and birch plantation it reminded me of Slatepits Copse long barrow in Oxfordshire – almost lost, horribly overgrown, carpeted with thick moss and in danger of complete loss through sheer neglect.

So many monuments in such a tiny place! Either they escaped destruction because of Langeland's remoteness, or the population here were prolific in their grave building because the farming, fishing and fowling was so easy. The lack of Romans and the late arrival of Christianity probably helped, too.

If you want to take your family on holiday and still see sh*tloads of big old rocks, you'll do no better than Langeland. Just make sure you go during the summer months.

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

Jane Posted by Jane
15th April 2006ce
Edited 17th April 2006ce

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