Geopark: The Gudme Prince’s Hall and Lundeborg

Geopark: The Gudme Prince’s Hall and Lundeborg

5884 Gudme

Photo: Knud Mortensen

En sommerdag på Lundeborg Havn

What you see today as merely flat fields situated about 60 m a.s.l. on a slightly undulating till plain from the Young Baltic Glaciation - was around 400 AD the largest settlement in Scandinavia.

In the village Gudme there are traces of two large halls of about the same size that have been construed as The Gudme Prince’s Hall and his hall of the gods. Both halls from the Iron Age are today demarcated by concrete pillars, the dimensions of which give you an idea of just how large these halls were. At its largest expanse, the Gudme settlement had 50 farms and these farms were generally larger than the farms we know from the adjacent areas.

But Gudme was more than a huge town. During the same period as Gudme, a large trading post was located on the coast of Storebælt just north of Lundeborg, which is now a quaint little coastal town. Over a period of 500 years, merchants and especially craftsmen met every summer to trade, manufacture new goods, and at the same time get the ships repaired that they had arrived in. At the trading post they produced combs, glass and amber pearls, and jewellery was cast in noble metals such as bronze, silver, and gold. Artefacts bear witness to trade with the Roman Empire.

The trading post by Lundeborg was undoubtedly protected by the Princes of Gudme and it certainly must have contributed to the consolidation of the power and wealth of the principality. The wealth is also visible in the significant sacrifices of the area, which is evidenced by a large find of gold halfway between Gudme and Lundeborg. The find was made in 1833 and is the second largest gold find in Denmark. It consisted of about five kilos of gold in the form of various rings (armbands, necklaces, finger rings), gold ingots, Roman gold coins and sundry gold “scraps”.) Gods and the sacrifices to them must have played an enormous role in the lives of the Iron Age people, and this is also evident in the place names that have survived until the present day: Gudme (home of the gods), Gudbjerg (mountain of the gods), Galdbjerg (sacrifice mountain), and Albjerg (shrine mountain).

The size of the Gudme settlement is also highlighted by the fact that the largest burial ground in Southern Scandinavia, called Møllegårdsmarken, is located precisely halfway between Gudme and Lundeborg. The roughly 2,500 cremation graves from the start of the Gudme glory days fan out from an older mound from the Bronze Age. The burial grounds is remarkable in that despite its size and the obvious wealth of the area, the graves themselves are not especially affluent.

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