Well, we’ve reached the end of our Danish journey. Here’s the updated map:
So far, we’ve done 1729 miles: 539 in the UK and 1190 from Calais to Hirtshals.
On Monday, we visited Aggersdorf: a fine opportunity for a bit more Danish history. We’re back in the reign of Harald Bluetooth (a quick aside: we’ve found out why he was called Bluetooth. Some Vikings, presumably including Harald, had incisions cut into their teeth and dye rubbed in to make them look more fierce. Sounds lovely….).
Poor Harald was under a bit of pressure, bless him, from the Holy Roman Emperor to the South and from his own subjects who hadn’t yet got their heads round the concept of doing as they were told. He’d greatly expanded his kingdom to the North, but now he had to keep things under control. In 980-81 Harald had a string of circular forts built, all on important trade routes (so possibly they were also to be used for tax collection).
We visited the biggest fort, Aggersborg. All you can see nowadays is a (reconstructed) raised earthwork circle. The church came later.
Originally, it had a 4 metre high earth-filled rampart surrounded by a 4 metre deep ditch.
Four gateways, at North, South, East and West were joined by two wood-paved roads, splitting the interior into 4 sections, each of which contained 12 longhouses set out around three squares (so 48 longhouses in total).
It’s been estimated that around 5000 mature oak trees would have been needed to build Aggersborg (66 per house, plus the ramparts and roads).
The forts were only used for a short time before being abandoned. It may have been that the military pressure subsided, particularly after the Holy Roman Emperor Otto II’s death in 983, or it may have been to do with Harald’s own death in 987 following an uprising. Accounts vary, but one thing they all seem to agree on us that Harald’s son Svein Forkbeard had a big hand in his dad’s downfall, in true Viking tradition….
Svein went on to make a major nuisance of himself over in England, and it was his son Cnut who became King Canute of “halting the tide” fame.
We found yet another lovely little free stop, this time up on the North coast:
The next morning, during a short bike ride, we found a statue of a crab and technology guru Mark insisted on taking a photo of me for the blog:
Lord Snowdon has nothing to fear (and he’s dead…).
We then trundled East a few miles to Lyndholm Høje (høje = hill). Here you can see an old burial ground, with graves dating from around AD 400 until the late 900s (after which point Denmark was a Christian country and they came over all boring, burying folk in churchyards like the rest of us).
The only reason the grave markers here are all still in position is that it’s an area of shifting sand dunes; it had been buried in sand and there wasn’t much incentive for farmers to want to plough here.
There are 41 “normal” graves and almost 700 cremation graves, with the oldest graves at the top of the hill and newer graves further down the hill.
In a cremation grave, the person would have been cremated at the grave site, which was marked out with stones, with earth then added to create a bit of a mound.
Men tended to have graves marked by stones in a triangle or ship shape; women’s graves were marked by stones in a round or oval shape.
So there we are… one more free night parked in a forest and then it was time to head to Hirtshals for our ferry crossing to Kristiansand. There must’ve been 6 lanes full of motorhomes waiting for the ferry; hopefully we’ll all spread out once we get to the other side 😎