My Hometown History – Mårslet, Denmark
This is my contribution to Scott Thomas’ latest assignment, Hometown History.
Thank you, Scott, for this challenge, that kicked me start photographing in my home environment again!
And they submitted their marks in the landscape, which are still visible in several places: In Hørret Forest just east of town you can see this 18 meter long grave. It is a long dolmen, a collective grave, which consists of a stone-built burial chamber surrounded by a mound and a ring of large stones. Here, society’s most affluent members were buried with their weapons, valuables – and plenty of food for the journey to kingdom of the dead!
The town name “Mårslet” is perhaps nearly as old as this burial chamber? The name Mårslet is composed of two words: “Morth” (which later became “Mår”) and means “forest”. And “slet” which means “clearance”. Thus does “Mårslet” mean “Clearing in the forest”….
One of the first places you can find the name in writing is from 1360, when it was spelled “Mordslet”.
An much older building in Mårslet is Mårslet Church. It was originally built between 1100 – 1200. About 300 years later it was rebuilt to its present appearance. The church-building looks like most other ancient traditional village churches in Denmark with a red tile roof and whitewashed walls. The main building, the nave, in the middle (called the “ship”here in Denmark). Choir and apse to the east of this, and at the opposite end (west) is the tower. On the south side entrance through the porch, this was originally only the entrance for men (and men carried weapons!), women had then a separate entrance on the opposite side (north). The first part of the church that was built was the nave – and when there was money for it ( (often several generations later!) ) – more parts were added …
Around 1800 the Church had a lead roof, but it was in 1828 sold by the church owner,The Baron of Vilhelmsborg, who lacked money, and instead replaced it with a the church’s current “roasted beaver tail stones”. – Mårslet church is now the only church in the country where the entire roof covering consists of these simple but beautiful tiles.
I will not mention the interior of the Mårslet Church here. More about this on another occasion.
Before leaving the church I will show you this photo of the church from around 1900. It is obvious that the city was then a very small town, as there is only one house near the church…. Thanks again to Mårslet Egnsarkiv (Mårslet Region Archives) and our local historical association, which has made a tremendous amount of work to collect old photos and other information about the town’s history.
Taking the picture I am standing in front of the church facing the entrance to our small shopping center. This consists today of two supermarkets, a flower shop, medical center, a dentist and a gas station, the latter is is visible in the picture, the shops are situated further behind the gas station.
The shopping center is located at the site where a farmhouse, Bomgården, was previously located.
In the arcives of Mårslet Egnsarkiv I found this photo of the farmhouse from 1900 – 1910. The farmhouse here and and the associated farm buildings were situated right where the gas station and the big chestnut tree is today (this tree is in the right side of the photo above)
The second photo (below) of Bomgården is an aerial photo – captured in the middle of the last century – not many years before the farm was demolished to make way for the shopping center… One can see the chestnut tree by the road. The main building, the farmhouse, is in the middle of the picture.
East of Mårslet are several major forest areas. Not far from Hørret Forest, where Stone Age people buried their dead, lies Vilhelmsborg Forest, less than 2 km’s from my home. Readers of this blog will find several photos from there here in the archives of this blog.
My next photo is of the Manor Vilhelmsborg’s main building. It is built in 1843. The Manor Vilhelmsborg’s history goes many centuries back. It was founded in 1486, and in the first 200 years the name of the manor was “Skumstrup “.
This is a part of the ruins of Skumstrup as they look today. Skumstrup’s main building has been excavated. It has been over two floors with a stair tower in the center courtyard. At first floor was a great hall. There were two side buildings with kitchen and chambers and associated farm buildings.
But when Baron Villiam Gyldenkrone in 1673 inherited Skumstrup and moved there with his 13-year-old young wife, he named the manor Vilhelmsborg – after himself … And in these years the manor house was relocated and a new manor built on the current location.
The owners of the property after 1673 can be seen on the memorial board at the front of the picture.
Today Vilhelmsborg is owned by the local government in Århus, and it operates today as Danish National Equestrian Centre.
One of the guests who often visited the baron at Vilhelmsborg was Hans Christian Andersen. When he stayed there he often went on horse-drawn carriage rides in the area. On one of these trips, he tells of a dramatic accident, in which the horse trailer crashes on a bridge in the forest and almost runs into the stream, Giberåen. Luckily none of the passengers in the car were seriously injured…. And Hans Christian Andersen lived for many more years – and told us many more fairy tales after that day!
The bridge where this happened is still there – in a slightly modernized version:
My last photo is an aerial photo of my hometown, which is borrowed from our local website in Mårslet: