In 2011 the Hunebed Centre played host to a delegation from the community of Odsherred in Denmark. They were interested in learning more about how the Hondsrug had acquired Geopark status as they also wanted to become a Geopark. In 2014 Odsherred successfully achieved that status and became the first geopark in Denmark. The area has much in common with the Hondsrug region: the landscape was formed by the Ice Ages, there are many erratic boulders scattered around and they even have quite a number of hunebeds.
Odsherred also has another connection with the Hunebed Centre. Because of the number of hunebeds in the area, Odsherred is also a member of the international network of Megalithic Routes. In that capacity it was the turn of Odsherred to organise and host the annual conference of network members in May 2016. And that was reason enough for Hein Klompmaker and myself to take the opportunity of visiting some of their hunebeds.
We were immediately impressed by the very first one we visited. This was carefully restored in 2003 and looks magnificent. As you can see from the photos, it shows how a complete hunebed might originally have looked. What is striking is that the covering mound is completely round. You see that also at many other hunebeds in the area which have not yet been restored. I asked the archaeologist at the site if that was always the case because in the Netherlands it is often said that the lintels stuck out above the mound. The archaeologist explained that a hunebed was wind- and water-proof and this would only have been possible if the mound was created from layers of different materials. Indeed some hunebeds have been found to contain a drainage system made of birch tree bark. Which makes them miracles of architectural design!
If the capstones had stuck out of the mound, as previously believed in the Netherlands, it would have been almost impossible for the hunebed to have been wind- and waterproof. Wherever the stones stuck out, water would have leaked in. So that is something else we’ve learned!
Text Harrie Wolters
Translation Alun Harvey