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Wet west Jutland

1 April 2006

Forty minutes after the boat docked at Esbjerg in Denmark, Moth and I were at our first Danish monument, the Jættestue ved Mejls in west Jutland. Spookily the MP3 player randomly selected a track from Julian's Rite 2, a favourite on our megalithing trips.

As we drove through the almost flat sandy landscape we kept spotting large, tall round barrows – not the flattened shadows of their former selves you get in the UK - these are big, fat and pert. Effectively the jættestue were two very large barrows, one of which had been opened up to reveal two small stone chambers inside, looking all the world like little dolmens. Very nice. The weather was evil – cold, windy, wet. Grim, in fact…which interestingly is the Danish word for ugly. I didn't know it yet, but I would have to get used to this…

Further north, up the west coast of Jutland, we headed for Ølustrup to see what is billed as 'three long dolmens and a long barrow' in James Dyer's 1972 book Discovering Archaeology in Denmark."/>
It was peeing with rain, visibility was very poor and the air hung heavy with the smell of pigshit from a nearby farm. One of the long barrows had some nice exposed chambers, but the site was not particularly whelming. We were pushed for time so headed off towards our cottage near Middelfart* in the island of Fyn.
[*yes, we tittered everytime, too!]

Directly en route was Klæbek Høje (featured in The Megalithic European [TME] page 164).

Also known as Bække, Klæbek Høje is a couple of huge verdant round barrows from the Bronze Age with a much later addition by the Vikings.

They constructed a skibssætning, a megalithic longship between the barrows. The stones at each end of the 'boat' were bigger, implying prows. We liked it a lot. Dyer's book said that the depressions of tracks running through the middle were the remnants of a prehistoric military road or trackway, but neither Moth nor me bought this idea.

Just down the lane from Klæbek Høje stands the mighty Hamborggårdsten, an oath stone.

Hygge is a Danish characteristic meaning 'cosy' or the pursuit of cosiness and is very important to our Danish brothers and sisters. There is no higher compliment than to say to your host: 'what a hygge evening'. For novice hygge-pursuers, light a few candles and you get the idea. When we reached our cottage near Båring we found it was not at all hygge. Within a hour our friends arrived, we lit some tealights, put the kettle on and things got more hygge as the rain pelted down on the thatch. Nevertheless we were to become rather fed up with rain….

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
9th April 2006ce
Edited 9th April 2006ce

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