Skjoldungernes Land: Vikings and place

I don’t do Vikings. Way too much Game of Thrones about them–heck, I’m a (self-)critical modernist, Vikings were done and dusted in Primary 2. But Vikings and place–that’s different.

Sunday was Fortidsmindedag, which like many of these nominated days seemed to have passed most by. After taking a look at, rather limited on Sjælland it turns out, we settled on Skjoldungernes Land around the village of Gammel Lejre, on the edge of the 30 minute driving zone (incidentally, Google GPS lady, where have you been all this time? Arguments over, even if some of the pronunciations are a bit head-scratching).

Skjoldungernes Land, nominated a national park in 2015 and home to a clutch of burial mounds and a stone ship made of standing stones, is named after the Skjoldungerne dynasty. According to the sagas the Skjoldungerne (trans: the Scyldingas) were the descendants of Skjold, son of Odin. Enough already. Here are 10 thoughts arising from our trip.

  1. Perec’s injunction to Force yourself to think more flatly is largely redundant in Denmark, but here the landscape is gently rolling, affording Views.
  2. The stone ships (Skibssætningerne) are not exactly Orkney’s Ring of Brodgar, but could be better known. Are the stones as tall?
  3. A Danish burial mound (gravhøj) or round barrow, at around 4 metres high and 25 metres in diameter, can offer opportunities for Danish mountaineering.
  4. Even I have to admit it’s a common heritage–the Scyldingas are mentioned in Beowulf, and traces of Heorot, the mead hall under attack by Grendel, can be found nearby.
  5. With the scaling up of farming in Denmark since WW2 many of the local farms and agricultural buildings have been given over to 21st century-style uses, such as educational facilities, horse-based physiotherapy, etc.
  6. Organic farm shops abound.
  7. Oilseed rape is a fine addition to the horizontal blue and green picture; a motorway, funneling the populace as quickly as possible into all that CPH can offer, less so.
  8. Just going for a walk is not really a thing in Denmark, but a battery of paths is marked across the countryside for those who choose to hike (special equipment definitely required), plus the inevitable long distance cycle route.
  9. It’s all, of course, classic Danish scale. Open country is rare, with the land broken up into pockets divided by electric fences and micro-managed to fit the needs of the 21st century Viking.
  10. Contemporary public art has its place, and that place is not necessarily in front of a 19th century farmhouse.

19 photos on Flickr

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