Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rolsø church/Rolsø kirke, Mols herred, Randers amt.

Rolsø Church in Vrinders, ab. 20 km west of Ebeltoft


Rolsø church in Vrinders is a new church, built in 1907, and in connection to this the old church in Rolsø was demolished. Luckily it is a rare event to demolish the old historic churches in Denmark. The new church is built in Romanesque style and the demolished material from Rolsø church was used in the wall work. The inventory comes partly from the old church. Late Gothic altar candles with traces after three lions. A Romanesque granite font with double tovstav (rope decoration), foliage and human heads on the foot - in 1906 rests of an original red and black ornament was found. South German baptismal basin from 1575 and a pulpit from 1664.

Although the old Rolsø church was demolished the medieval porch in monk bricks was kept. In the north by the nave a wall with two round arched windows was built. The white-chalked building is now a chapel of rest and is placed upon the idyllic church yard which is still in use. In the building is the former altar piece and a pieced-together epitaph. Upon the wall is a small limestone with the paternal and maternal coat of arms of Hans Skade of Rolsøgård and Ingeborg Sparre. The church yard is surrounded by granite boulder dikes and equipped with a køreport (driving gate) and a gate between three Renaissance pillars. Close by is a wooden bell frame.

The demolished church in Rolsø had a Romanesque choir and nave in granite boulders, a Gothic extension with styltetårn (stilted tower) and porch. The communion table was raw walled. The altar piece was a Gothic velvet triptychon. The church had two bells, one small and without inscription from the Middle Ages and the other - which is now farm bell at Rolsøgård - was casted by "Knud Riise ved Tønsberg."

Vrinders, landscape and farm.
photo 2006

Names in the Middle Ages:

Rolsø (1328 Rolfsyøø); Vrinders (*1486 Wrindes, 1501 Wrynnesby); Andrup (1552 Anndrup); Skovgårde (1458 Schoffgard); Rolsøgård(*1486 Rolsøgaard).

Rolsøgård, farm/manor, belonged 1328 to hr. Jens Hviding, 1448 to Morten Nielsen (Vognsen of Stenshede), 1511 to Gunde Nielsen, 1561 to his son Jørgen Gundesen of Sostrup; with his sister Inger the manor came to Mikkel Nielsen (Hvas of Gerholm), whose daughter Margrethe brought it to Erik Krag (+1606); his son Jørgen Krag (+1643) sold it to Hans Skade, who still owned it 1638; his son-in-law Vogn Hvas (of Skørholt) was the owner in 1655-62, hereafter his widow Kirsten Skade 1669 and her brother-in-law Jesper Vognsen (of Stenshede) (+1687). His son Jens Vognsen exchanged it 1689 to his brother-in-law ritmester (captain of horse) Otto Andreas von Lindenquist (+1692), who 1691 sold it to Bodil Pedersdatter (the same Bodil, who built Rødegård in Vistoft parish), the widow after Poul Nielsen of Strandkær, but the deed was 1693 by his heirs conveyed to Hans Jacobsen of Lyngsbækgård, whom she had married. Later the estate belonged to the family Gersdorff and several various owners up till present.

Dolmen, Vrinders

Listed prehistorics: two round dolmens with overturned cover stone at Rolsøgård, and in the southeastern corner of the parish a pentagonal dolmen chamber where the cover stone has skålgruber (hollows).
Demolished or destroyed: 5 dolmens, a passage grave and 8 hills.
At Andrup was a burial site from early Roman Iron Age.

Source: Trap Danmark, Randers amt, 1963.

foto Rolsø Church 2003 & Vrinders 2006: grethe bachmann

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chessboards on Jutland Churches

"The Devil's Board Game."

Veggerby Church, North Jutland

Bejstrup Church, North Jutland

Skallerup church, North Jutland

Svenstrup Church, Northeast Jutland

Grinderslev Church, North Jutland

Grinderslev Church belonged originally to Grinderslev Augustine cloister built in the middle of the 12th century. A chess pattern like this is seen on the walls of several Danish churches. They were interpreted in many ways, like either the stone master's spare-time occupation - repair of stone damage or spreadsheet -mysterious symbolic numerals or messages and finally interpreted as the symbol of white/black, good/evil and life/death. Popular name is "Devil's Board Game", which means that a human is playing with death about the time of his leaving this world. The legend also says that the Devil often disturbed the church building by tearing down at night what had been built at day. The building master then would make a game board for the Devil, who in his gambling mania would be so occupied that the building could remain undisturbed.

In a work from the National Museum about Danish churches a Danish historian M. Mackeprang , once the director of the National Museum, wrote about the chess boards. At that time he counted 22 churches with chess boards, mainly from North Jutland. Later in 1983 the number was increased to 35. The spreading of the chess boards shows a marked attachment to North Jutland, and outside this area are only known one at Bornholm (Povlskirken ) and a few in Norway and Sweden. But some people thought it was still not investigated properly, so a Jute newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, started a research - the result was some ten new examples, which did not disturb the original picture though. Up to date 45 churches in Jutland are registered with chess boards, six churches have two examples and four have three examples, the full amount is 59.

Text below is from an article by Jens Vellev in archaeological magazine Skalk 1/1988.

"The placing of the chess boards upon the church walls seem random chosen, but rebuildings and replacements might have changed things essentially. The chess pattern varies in form and size, the biggest is 53x132 cm. The 8x8 squares, like a common chess board, seem to exist in only one example. The chess boards are found both in squares and rectangles. The inner small squares are sometimes surrounded by other geometric figures, triangles, circles and alike - and these also fill in areas at times.
South of Aarhus and in a straight line to Thyborøn by the North Sea there isn't one example of a chess board upon a church, neither in south Jutland or at the islands, except for the one example at Bornholm. The chess board in Povlskirken on Bornholm is 8x8 squares, but just below is another carving, a complete perfect example of, what we today know as Backgammon. This really looks as if the stone mason meant it to be a board game. The carved ashlar is of the same black silurchalkstone from which the church was built, so nothing suggests that this board game wasn't there from the beginning.
Chess boards of the North Jutland type are seen in a few Swedish and Norwegian churches, i.e. Rydaholm in Sweden, and three in Norway, all situated in Østfold. In one of the Norwegian churches is furthermore found an ashlar with the runic inscription "Odinkar", a name which in Norway is known only from this one find, while it was common in Denmark in the Viking period and the Middle Ages.
The chess boards are early medieval, but it is not possible to give some exact limitation about the dating - since the dating of just one example often causes trouble. How did they arise, and what do they mean? They cannot be one man's work, although it sometimes happens that local ideas set a fashion.
In a frescoe in Täby church north of Stockholm a worrying gentleman is playing a board game with a smiling spectre - a remind to the viewer not to forget life's corruption; "The Devil's Board Game" might have had a similar mission, but this explanation suits best for the example at Bornholm, which is of quite another character, it seems to be of another root than the North Jutlandic. They remind about each other, but the differences exclude that it is a particular game.
Other possibilites must be taken in consideration. In the Apocalypse, chapter 21, the Heavenly Jerusalem is described with an exact specification of a long row of measures. A Spanish handwriting from the 900-years shows the city - not upstanding as normally, but flattened - with twelve gates around a chess patterned place. The illustration is somewhat older than the chess boards in the churches mentioned here, but a connection cannot be excluded.
There is no certain interpretation, but it is certain that the chess boards had a very particular purpose, and sooner or later it might be traced."

photo: grethe bachmann

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Kollerup church / Kollerup kirke , Vester Han herred, Thisted amt.

Kollerup Church, Thy
A few km northeast of the town Fjerritslev

The old Romanesque Communion table, which had a reliquary, has got a pretty place left of the new altarpiece.

A piece from a monstrance cabinet.

A piece of Romanesque gravestone

The medieval door of broad oak planks

The church is situated only 10 km from Svinkløv and Grønne Strand by the North Sea. It has a Romanesque nave, a late Gothic longhouse choir, a western tower and a southern porch and a chapel at the north side of the nave from 1591. The Romanesque nave of which only the flankemurene (flank-walls) are preserved is built in granite aslars. Both doors are preserved , but somewhat changed. From the windows only a round-arched window with a monolit coverstone in the north wall of the nave is preserved. Four other monolit coverstones are bricked-up in the north wall of the chapel, put together to two small niches, while two stones are placed above its north door. In a couple of re-used ashlars in the east wall are some carved lines which form various not very visible figures. In the wall also a chessboard ashlar. From the demolished choir-arch origin probably some vaguely profiled ashlars in the north wall.

In the late Gothic period ab. 1500 the Romanesque choir was replaced by a longhouse choir in re-used ashlar-material and yellow monk bricks. At the same time the walls of the nave were heightened and in the whole building was built five octagonal cross-vaults and a pointed choir arch. The gable triangle in the east was re-walled in 1653 and 1681. The tower is also late Gothic in the same materials, re-used ashlars and yellow monk bricks. Its cross-vaulted bottom room, which is now a tool shed, has a pointed tower arch. Also the two storey-porch to the south is late Gothic. The octagonal vaulted chapel in the north side of the nave is connected to this in a large flat round arch. Its northern part was after 1952 divided into a boiler room and a priest room, when the whole building was restored.

The Romanesque communion table rests upon a square pillar and in the top is a reliquary. The altar piece from 1883 is a simple joinery with a painting from 1898. A Romanesque granite font with archade decorated pyramid foot. The baptismal bowl is pewter from 1689 with a Baroque engraving. The pulpit from 1599 is a rural copy of an Aalborg-type with naive reliefs and a contemporary sounding board. "Lord of the Manor"- pews from 1590 with the coat of arms and names of: Henrik Gyldenstierne and Mette Rud. From a very pretty monstrance cabinet with fine ornaments and rich wrought-iron mounting the cabinet is preserved. Church bells 1) ab. 1450-75 by PLP 2) 1620 by Rudolph Borchardt. A door wing in broad oak-planks is placed in the wall of the north door.

Gravestones: 1) Romanesque with a flat-relief of a Sct. George cross 2) Romanesque with an indefinable figure 3) Fragment of a Romansesque grave cross.

Names in the Middle ages and the 1600s:
Kollerup (1455 Koldrvp); Brøndum (1401 Brwnnæm); Borup (1450 Borup); Andrup (1462 Amdrvp); Vester Hingelbjerg ( 1455 Hingilberg); Aldrup (* 1462 Altrop, 1479 Aldrop); Nr. and Sdr. Dromshave (*1508 Droms waadt, 1626 Drumbshafve, 1688 Nøre-, Synder Droms Hage); Graven (1664 Graffuen); Årup (1542 Aarup Gaard); Bjergegård (1678 Bieregaard) ; Pedersbæk (1552 Persbeck).

In 1455 and 14734 the væbner Esge Bonde of Borup is mentioned. In 1462 he is called a peasant, although he belonged to the noble family Bonde of Thy, knighted in 1430.

In 1455 Jap Skytte of Hingilberg is mentioned, in 1462 the væbner Bord Jensen in Amdrup , and in 1470 and 1504 Ylfar Eskesen of Brøndum. In 1504 he sold to the prior of Vrejlev kloster a part of Størup and Clettrup (in Skallerup parish, Vennebjerg herred, Hjørring amt), which he had inherited after his wife Dorte Pallesdatter and his children.

An agreement was made in 19/9 1474 ab. a Skt. Jørgens Kapel in Kollerup between the Børglum-bishop and Mourids Nielsen Gyldenstierne of Ågård that a priest had to be engaged in order to be in receipt of people's charities and gifts.

During the 1600s the parish suffered much from sand drift.

Listed prehistorics: already Pontoppidan's Atlas mentions that there were heathen gravehills, dolmens and sacrificial places in the parish. The parish is very rich in prehistorics of which a large number are listed: Northwest of the church is a hexagonal dolmen with a cover stone; at Brøndum a long dolmen and a passage grave, of which only a few cover stones are visible; in the dunes at Andrupgård is a disturbed passage grave, where were found a flint axe, arrow heads, amber pearls and clay pot pieces; furthermore 52 hills of which several are large.

At several places in Kollerup plantation are noted Stone Age settlements, mainly from dolktid (a period of 700 years from ab. 2400 bc ). In a bog were found 11 sickles from early Bronze Age. At Hingelbjerge were 10 small hills with jordfæstegrave ( burials where the body was placed unburnt in a wooden coffin or just in a hole in the ground, i.e. swept in a leather cape) from the Viking Period, several with weapons.

Source: Trap Danmark, Thisted amt, 1961

photo 13 June 2006: grethe bachmann

Friday, December 05, 2008

Esrum Kloster, North Zealand

The old wing

Esrum Kloster was etablished by the Order of the Cistercians (White Brothers). Esrum actually began as a Benedictine monastery established by archbishop Eskil in 1140, but was abandoned and in decay - and Eskil then established Esrum in 1151 as a daughter-cloister of the cloister in Clairvaux, since he was a private friend of Bernhard of Clairvaux. Only small remains are left from the large medieval grounds, but there is still a certain medieval atmosphere in the simple tall building.

A lovely tree in the park

The medieval cloister buildings in red monk-bricks were placed north of Esrum Sø in a beautiful untouched landscape with forest and meadows, a landscape which still ecists - but today only a single late medieval east wing is preserved. Below under the present private house-buildings are found rests of a very large building-complex. The cloister-church seems to have been more than 100 meter long ,which makes it the biggest in Denmark.

Fine old wall and a walled-in window

Esrum was a Nordic centre in the common European net of cloisters spreading from Sicily to Norway and from Poland to Ireland. It became the biggest and most important cloister in Scandinavia and was ancestress of a long row of cloisters in Scandinavia, in North Germany and in Poland, among those Vitskøl, Sorø, Ryd, Dargun in the Wendic area (later moved to Eldena) and Colbaz in Poland. During the 1100s Esrum monastery was a Scandinavian spearhead for spreading the Order of the Cistercians. Furthermore the White Brothers of Esrum became the biggest landowners in North Zealand , receiving gifts during the Middle Ages from magnates and other rich benefactors. These old informations are kept in the socalled Esrumbog from 1497. Five manuscripts are preserved, four from about year 1200.

Esrum Kloster from the yard

After the reformation the cloister was allowed to function until 1559. The last monks were transferred to Sorø Kloster (Monastery), and the demolition of the big cloister church in Esrum began. Some of the building materials were used for building Kronborg Castle by Elsinore. The rest of the building by Esrum were used for several purposes up to 1931 where they were transferred to Indenrigsministeriet (ministry of the interior) and later to Boligministeriet (ministry of housing). They were leased by private persons and by The National Museum (Copenhagen) storing purpose.

Esrum Møllegård

In 1992 a Natural Center and a School of Environment were established in the old farmbuilding Esrum Møllegård. The old watermill was restored and a part is now converted into an ecological café. The same year the restoration of the cloister-building started, finansed by Frederiksborg Amtsråd plus several fonds and private persons, and in 1997 Esrum Kloster opened to the public and was in the year 2000 administratively added together with Esrum Møllegård in an independent fond Esrum Kloster and Møllegård.

Esrum Kloster in the yard, entré in the corner down to
the restaurant
in the vaulted cellar.

When digging the area during the restoration many relict-plants grew up from seeds which had been sleeping in the earth for centuries. Experts from Scandinavia got together and created a fantastic medieval garden (Esrum Klosterhave) with a various selection of plants with a cultural and medicinal history. Herbs can be bought in the shop. Besides the ecological café in Esrum Møllegård there is also a café in the vaulted cellar in the cloister building , "Broder Rus Café", where people can get dishes made from original medieval recipes and beer, brewed like the monks did. (Munkeøl).

Vistkøl Kloster, the church ruins

Cistercian Cloisters in Denmark in the Middle Ages:
Esrum Kloster (1151-1153) earlier a Benedictine monastery. Monks came from Clairvaux.

Holme Kloster (1172) Later name 1672 Brahe Trolleborg. Remains without public admittance.

Knardrup Kloster (1320) between Ganløse and Mårløv. Monks from Sorø. No remains.

Løgum Kloster (1173) Monks from Herrevad. Remains: a tree-naved cross-church and part of east wing with library and Kapitelsal.

Roskilde Kloster (Nunnery) (before 1177) connection to Sorø Kloster, from here a daughter cloister is established in Bergen at Rügen 1193. (Rügen belonged to Roskilde bishopric.)

Slangerup Kloster (Nunnery) (1175) No remains.

Sminge Kloster (1165) by Gudenå north of Silkeborg. Monks from Vitskøl. Moved later to Veng Kloster.

Sorø Kloster (1142/1161). Monks from Esrum. Daughter-cloisters Knardrup and Ås. Remains: Sorø Klosterkirke. Archbishop Absalon' s burial place is here.

Tvis Kloster (1163), East of Holstebro on an island in the river Tviså. Daughter of Herrevad Kloster. No remains.

Veng Kloster (see Øm Kloster). North of Skanderborg. The church still exists.

Vitskøl Kloster (1158) Vitae Scola, daughter-cloister of Esrum. By Limfjorden south of Løgstør. Vitskøl founded a daughter-cloister in Øm, established with means from Valdemar the Great's paternal inheritance. Later name Bjørnsholm, present name Vitskøl. The church is a ruin. Cloister-building is partly remains.

Øm Kloster (1172) Cara Insula, by Mossø, south of Ry. Daughter-cloister of Vitskøl. Once named Emborg. Monks came from several places, among others Veng. Øm Klosters Chronicle covers the period 1172-1267. No remains, except ruins. Exhibition and little museum mainly with bone-findings. Building materials from the demolished Øm Kloster were used for Skanderborg Slot where the church still exists. (by the main street in the town Skanderborg).

Ryd Kloster by Flensborg Fjord.

photo 2008: grethe bachmann (except photo from Vitskøl 2003)