16 Apr 2016

16th April 2016 Situation, situation, situation?


Saturday 16th 45-50F, 7-10C, light easterly winds picking up to 20m/s, 45mph gusts later, heavy overcast and distant mist clearing. 

I have a few images of an old fortified mound and ramparts which I have not shared yet. Known as Nyfæste Voldsted it lies in a rather marshy area close to the only railway which still crosses Fyn from east to west. Access to the historic site is via a track off a narrow lane between the villages of Gelsted and the more distant and much larger Aarup.

Many Danish place names are literal descriptions: Ny means new in English. Fæste is a shank. Vold means violence or a protective wall. Sted mean place.

The information plaque is mostly in Danish but suggests that it was a medieval fortified site in 800AD. The lighting was unfortunate on the day with the sun behind me. So avoiding casting my own shadow was difficult. Hence the 'misshapen' format.

The earthwork fortifications are surprisingly extensive when seen from the air. [Image taken from Grundkort Fyn.] 

The photographic foreshortening, as seen from the entrance, is an illusion. My own photographs below suggest [falsely] there is hardly room to swing a cat on the tops of the mounds. The small building [which is for sale] right at the bottom of this borrowed image is shown later in this post.

This is a general view from the entrance to the site via a [leaning/self-closing] clapper gate. Two raised walls and sunken ditches protect a prominent mound which was once crowned by a look-out tower. Or perhaps a masonry home for the leader at a later time. There is a record of inhabitation in the 1300s and 1500s and later as a farm in the 1600. It was designed to withstand a siege.

Ponds and marshes lie beyond the fortifications to the north. While a raised circle of low hills lies immediately to the south. Giving the impression of the site lying within the shelter of a half crater wall. A small stream flows around two sides of the site.

This is the view of the site from the lane just before the sharp turn into the gravel track. The twin mounds and sunken earthworks between them are just visible beyond the winter-bare trees which surround the site. Later in the year everything beyond these trees would be completely invisible. Which may explain why it gets [apparently] so few visitors.

The gravel track, which passes the medieval site, leads to farms and former farmhouses only a few hundred meters on. A café and shop there failed to prosper.

Here is another viewpoint with the ponds just visible off to the left, the twin mounds ahead and protective ditches in the foreground. The site is not easy to photograph with most unfortunate trees growing in the foreground ditches. These should surely be removed before they grow too large for easy removal without damage to the ancient structure?

A rather shabby, thatched cottage lies just outside the entrance and is for sale at a nominal price of 200,000DKK, £20k or $30kUS. 

At least the old cottage is highly reminiscent of an earlier time. With signs of timber framing having been rendered over. Despite the sales blurb suggesting the building is ready to fall down it would be a travesty if it were to be demolished. Only for a speculative builder to replace it with yet another, hideous, identi-kit, Danish bungalow! The old place has a timeless atmosphere totally in keeping with the ancient site next door! Bending the planning permission, of an existing structure, to build something modern should be strongly resisted! There are plenty of building plots elsewhere. Sadly there is not the demand to support a small café in the existing building and it would need expensive work to bring it up to minimum hygiene/living standards.

Sales picture above and link below taken from a small ads website:

[House in the countryside, New price/House/ Property - Buy and sale on YellowandFree.dk]

My walk took me along the track to the woods and then an exit via a fire break to bring me back along the marsh. Lots of birdsong everywhere I went and I saw my first Swallows, Goldfinches and Long-tailed tits of this year. I disturbed a large hare and two deer which instantly disappeared into the dense willow scrub. The Mallards took fright and dashed off to the other side of the pond. Though the Tufted ducks, in bright white a black, continued gently on their leisurely cruise. I returned home after an hour and a half of walking under a grey sky. With a thin wind, which belied the 50F temperature and occasional spots of rain. A ride will follow coffee and rolls as the first glimpses of brightness light up the Silver birches.

False alarm! It was already spotting from a heavily clouded, grey sky as I left. After seven miles I made it into the supermarket only for it to rain while I wasn't looking. The Brooks saddle was dark all over and wet! Coming back it had stopped raining and I thought I'd avoided the worst despite the sopping wet roads. Then  it started to rain and became progressively worse until it was pouring off my arms and into my MTB shoes. By the time I was home again I was soaked from head to toe except where the jacket covered me. Even there my racing jersey was wet below the waist. Only 15, rather soggy miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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