Denmark 2012: A Bit of History & A Lot of Knitting (part 1)

Tissø Lake, DenmarkDenmark is a small country which is probably the reason I can get away with describing somewhere one hour away from its capital as "rural" and "remote". I grew up in rural and remote north-west Zealand, not far from this lake. Tissø means 'the lake of Tyr' - Tyr being one of the Norse warrior gods. The photo was taken just in front of an excavated Viking settlement on the banks of Tissø (where these pieces of jewellery were uncovered amongst other things) but the area has been populated since Mesolithic times. Important Neolithic and Bronze Age sites are in neighbouring fields and are just waiting to be excavated. Walking across the Viking site towards Tissø felt like walking across History itself - especially because it was a frosty, foggy day. It was easy to imagine my ancestors making the same walk and feeling the inherent magic of the place.

Dolmen near SkamstrupTissø is part of a marshy landscape known as Åmosen (literally: the Creek Marsh) which stretches across most of my childhood landscape.

Åmosen is dotted with megalithic tombs - they are so common that my parents have two passage graves in the back garden(!). The one shown is a dolmen surrounded by standing stones. It dates to approx. 3500-3200BC. Åmosen is also known for the plethora of Neolithic settlements - the majority of the finds exhibited in the National Museum have been found in this marshy land. No wonder I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was growing up - it is difficult not to be enchanted when you can find arrow heads everywhere and explore ancient tombs in your back garden!

Dagger made of flintstoneOne of my favourite artefacts was not found anywhere near my home, but I think this stone dagger is just so amazing.

It is the Hindsgavl Dagger and can actually be seen on Danish bank notes.

The skill exhibited in shaping the stone is just outstanding and although the National Museum holds many equally intricate daggers from the same period, the combination of craftsmanship and the natural beauty of the stone is breathtaking.

We didn't get a proper photo of it for some reason, but I just want to mention The Sun Chariot that was found just a bit north of where I grew up. It shows the sun being drawn across the sky by a divine horse. Note the wheels: I want to knit a jumper that uses the wheel motif. It is one of my favourite motifs. Every time I see the Sun Chariot I get quite emotional. It epitomises my cultural heritage, I guess.

The pins in the photo belong to the same period as the Chariot and were found nearby. I love the swirling circles - all symbols indicative of the sun worship prevalent in the Bronze Age.

If you live in the UK, you will be familiar with the Danish butter brand, Lurpak. Did you know that a lur is actually a Bronze Age musical instrument used in religious ceremonies - and probably connected with human sacrifices? Did that put you off your sandwich!?