Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Hærulf Stone, Immervad Bridge and Sct. Helene's kilde

The Hærulf Stone at Hærvejen, South East Jutland.

The Hærulf Stone is a rune stone at Hærvejen between Immervad and the village Hovslund. The stone was one of the first known from Denmark's about 200 rune stones from the Viking Period and was mentioned already in 1592. The placement of the Hærulfstone at Hærvejen (the Army Road) both illustrates the historic importance of the road and that the area at the village Hovslund was inhabitated for a very long time. The granite stone can be dated to the years 850-900 (Viking Period); it is ab. 2 m tall and weighs ab. 4 tons. The inscription is only one name "HairulfR" , a man's name, written in runes. The name is Old Norse and known from Norway and Iceland and is supposedly a contraction between "Hær" (Army) and "Ulv" (Wolf), which indicates that the Hærulfstone was raised to honour a great warrior. This is supported by an old legend, saying that Hærulf was an earl of the Vikings here in the area more than 1000 years ago.
The Hærulfstone has travelled far and wide. In 1854 it was listed and made a property of king Frederik 7., who placed it upon a nearby lawn, but already 10 years later, after the Danish defeat in 1864, it was brought to Berlin by the Preussian prince Friedrich Carl, who placed it in the park of his hunting castle "Dreilinden" in Wannsee.

Since the reunion in 1920 were made persistent attempts to get back the stone to Denmark. There were many plans. A man had planned to kidnap the stone, but when the car with the lift and camouflage was ready to start, he became scared and his courage failed. But the stone came back to Hovslund by more diplomatic means. In October 1951 the stone was successfully released to Denmark, among others by the help of Berlin's mayor Ernst Reuter who was born in Åbenrå. In a nice and clean condition it was delivered to Hovslund railway station in a German waggon. The stone was moved to a car, which brought it back to its righful place at Hærvejen between Hovslund and Immervad, where it still stands.

It has earlier been referred to as "The Hovslund Stone" or the "Øster Løgum Stone", but is now only known as The Hærulfstone.
Superstition: About 200 m east of the Hærulf stone is a Bronze Age hill called Strangelshøj. Upon the foot of the hill stands a 2 m tall menhir. According to folklore the stone turns around when it smells newbaked bread."

Immervad Bridge at Hærvejen, South East Jutland

A little info about Hærvejen: Before cars and railroads came to, the main road of Jutland followed along the watershed up through the peninsula. *Hærvejen was at that time small gravel roads and sunken roads. There was not only one road, a network of roads formed, what today is named Hærvejen (Army Road). It was used by tradesmen in oxen carts, drivers with their cattle and pious pilgrims. In troubled times it was the army's natural march road. At Immervad the roads from north, west and east met and continued southwards.

* other names: Oksevejen, Adelsvejen and Pilgrimsvejen.
Immervad Bro: A few km north of Hovslund, where Immervad Å-river crosses the Hærvejen (Army Road) lies Immervad Bro. This stone bridge is the most famous bridge of the Army Road. The area Immervad with the bridge is known in history from a battle between king Erik of Pommern and the Holstein grafs in 1422. The battle was said to be so violent that the water in the river was coloured in blood.

In ancient times people had to wade or drive through the water in the lowest part. Later was built a wooden bridge, but in the late 1700s it was so ramschackled that it was dangerous to use it, and it was replaced by a stone bridge. The bridge meant that it was easier for the cattle-drivers to walk their cattle from Denmark to the markets in Hamburg and Rendsburg. On an average day about 700-800 oxen passed the bridge, which was of great advantage to the nearby Immervad Inn.

The stone bridge was built in 1787, and all the stones used were carved from one big granite stone. The bridge was built by a farmer, who together with his neighbour cleaved the long beams out from the stone, which was found at a field near the village Hovslund. It was a difficult work - some of the stone-beams are 3,5-4 m long with 35 cm diameter. It is said that only half of the big granite stone was used in the building the bridge.
Since then the water stream has been led round the old stone bridge. Today it stands as a relic of the past, but it is still a popular resort for locals and tourists.

Spring trickling up from the soil, Mid Jutland.

The Sacred Spring
: Upon a private ground in the hills between Hovlund and Barlund is a sacred spring, which might be one of the explanations, why the area of Hovslund was inhabitated for so long. From far away came sick and palsied to the spring to be healed. The spring was named "The Holy Water" - and still up till 1850 it was visited by many people.
Legend: The correct name is "Helene's kilde", since it gots its name from a princess from Skåne(Sweden),who was famous for her beauty and piety and had a miraculous power of healing by laying on of hands. It was said she was at king Valdemar Sejr's court - and she accompanied the king on his travels and war-expeditions. Once near Hovslund the king was in great pain because of a sprained foot. Helene came up and offered to help. She led him to a place where a spring came up from the ground. She filled a cup with water from the spring three times and poured it over the king's bad foot, while she stroke her hand over the foot mumbling some incomprehensible words. The king's entourage , horsemen, archers, pages, courtiers etc. stood around the place. Helene fell on her knees and prayed the Lord's Prayer (NB: both heathen and Christian customs) The king stood up ,completely well again. The bishop Peter now came to and baptized the spring "Helene's Kilde", and whenever king Valdemar later came to the neighbourhood, he always visited the spring. Sct. Helene's Kilde was through many centuries a very visited shrine like other sacred springs in the country.

photo 2002/2010: grethe bachmann


Kittie Howard said...

Interesting that the menhir turns around when it smells baked bread. One can only wonder how such a curious legend came to be. Grethe, I've really enjoyed reading your posts this Sunday morning. Very relaxing, very peaceful. I thank you for a lovely morning.

Thyra said...

Hej! Maybe the ancient village baker made some PR! " My newbaked bread is so good that even the big stone ourside town likes the scent of it!" `)

Viera said...

Denmark is on my list of places to visit.

Thyra said...

Hej Viera! Thank you for having Denmark on your list! You are very, very welcome!
Thyra `)

swamericana said...

Thyra: What an interesting post, particularly the Viking connections. The stone bridge is so interesting. What ancient history is so close to you.

(Sage to Meadow, Jack Matthews)

MyMaracas said...

Your country is the stuff of fairy tales. The traveling rune stone ...the menhir that moves at the scent of bread ... the ancient bridge and sacred spring ... thank you so much for sharing all this with us.

Teresa Evangeline said...

You have interesting blogs. I look forward to learning more about Denmark, its history, flora and fauna. And, your wonderful poetry selections.

Thyra said...

Jack: Thanks. Every time I find connections to the Vikings I include them. The Viking period is so fascinating.

Maracas: Hej! As I said to Kittie I guess the ancient village baker made some PR about his good bread. "Even a stone likes the scent of my bread."

Teresa: Thank you so much Teresa, and welcome to my blogs. I'll try to live up to your expectations.
And welcome as the first follower of my poetry blog. `:)

swamericana said...

The Sacred Spring history is most interesting. Helene and the spring were very special. Would that we find more of these special places in the world to see. Just looking at it would make anyone feel better.

(Jack Matthews, Sage to Meadow)

Thyra said...

Hej Jack! There are many legends connected to the Holy springs and many with Helene's name. At Zealand
(Tisvilde)is the most famous one, where people should come on Midsummer's Night , take an amount of water and walk to Helene's grave nearby and drink of the health-giving water - and when the morning light came they would be cured. (Helene's body came sailing upon a rock from Skåne in Sweden - and some men carried her to the church, but on the way a slide opened in a bank and a spring showed. There is a large grave built like a stone ship near the spring).
Grethe `)