"All God's churches great and small"

The heading is stolen from an old English television series about three vets in Yorkshire called "All God's creatures great and small" but I found that with a little modification it would fit well here.

Our stay in Vendsyssel was over and we had to move south of Limfjorden to the old town of Viborg. On our way though, there were still a few places to visit. From Facebook we had discovered that my cousin Anne was in the area with her family and we had decided to visit them along the way. They were vacationing in a small fishing village called Nørre Vorupør (Nørre = North) and I wanted to visit the even smaller Sønder Vorupør (Sønder = South) anyway, to see the place where I had spent one interesting summer 45 years ago.

Our first goal was someplace else though. A small village called Tranum, north of Vorupør. Almost 50 years ago I spent one very memorable summer here (my first real boy-girl experience J) and I wanted to recall that memory by visiting the area. We therefore headed straight for Tranum when we left our hotel in Brønderslev. 40 minutes later we were there, and I saw the vacation center as well as the beach. Not that there was much to see, but it recalled some memories, and that was the whole purpose of the visit. After the visit in Tranum we drove south along a low moraine ridge that follows the coastline. After a few miles we turned inland and up on the ridge. On top of the ridge was a small church called Lerup Church. Closes to the church a narrow valley, Fosdalen, leads through the ridge. We followed a track down this valley to a place where a holy well is situated. There is not much water in the well anymore, but in the old days it was considered holy, and miracles are supposed to have happened here. People flocked to the place to drink the water, and a so-called "kildemarked" (a fair - like Dyrehavsbakken north of Copenhagen, which also arose around a holy well) was established here. At the fair all kinds of entertainment were available, including the more carnal ones. In 1585 it had become so "entertaining" that the local vicar from Lerup had to write to the authorities and ask them to stop the fair, as "such improprieties take place, that righteous citizens cannot go there". It's very clear from his letter that he thinks of drunkenness, prostitution and fornication out of wedlock in general". Unfortunately we saw no such things, as the fair has long been gone, and we were almost the only people there at the time, though another car was parked at the parking lot. But they may have been further down the track. We turned back after the visit to the spring.

From Lerup we headed straight to Vorupør, and arrived there only eight minutes after the ETA (estimated time of arrival) we had promised my cousin. We had a cup of coffee (me) and tea (Tim) and talked for about an hour before we had to leave. We still had about 100 miles to go to our destination and a couple of more things to see. From Nørre Vorupør we drove south and passed Sønder Vorupør, where I once more saw the place, where I vaccationed in 1970 after my last year in school. The seven boys from my class and a couple of the girls, stayed there with some teachers and some kids from other schools, and helped to decorate the then rather new center.

We continued south towards a very small community called Lodbjerg. The church of this community is the smallest medieval church in Denmark (built around 1450), and the last time I was there was in 1980! The church looked the same though, with the same few benches and a few frescos. We spent about half an hour here, then went outside to enjoy the view of the landscape (the church is as is the case with many Danish village churches built on top of a hill). Among the views are that of Flade Sø, a shallow lake, that was once part of Limfjorden, but was cut of by shifting sands, and today it is a freshwater lake. After our visit to Lodbjeg we drove to the the neighboring Vestervig Kirke. (Vestervig Church). Vestervig is a rather modest parish with only 1,600 inhabitants, but the church is large. Actually it is the largest village church in Scandinavia. The church is from 1150, and originally served as an abbey. Today the Augustinian monastery is long gone, but the church still stands and for some years in the elevenhundreds it served as a cathedral. By the way it was in Vestervig that King Knud II (Cnut The Great) gathered his fleet before his conquest of England in 1015.

Unfortunately the building itself was closed for repairs, so we couldn't get inside, but looked at it from the outside. Just outside the cemetery the remains of an ironage village from around 400 AD has been discovered, so we took a look at the few remains. Then we entered the cemetery and walked aound for a while looking at graves. The most interesting grave at the spot is probably the (alleged) joint graves of Liden Kirsten and Prins Buris. Liden Kirsten (Little Kirsten) was the sister of King Valdemar I The Great, and Prins (Prince) Buris, was her lover. The two of them were very much in love, but the king didn't approve of their relationship. Prince Buris was of royal descent, and could be a competitor to Valdemar's throne and Buris' father, Henrik Skadelaar, had been an accomplish in the murder of Valdemars father som years earlier. Valdemar had his sister killed and buried at Vestervig and Buris was chained to the church wall so he could look at the grave of his beloved, but not quite reach it. He was chained here until his death and then buried with her. Not side by side, but feet against feet. At least that is what the legend tells. In reality Buris was Valdemars companion in several wars, but in the end Valdemar got suspicious and believed that Buris would overthrow him, so Buris was gelded, blinded and chained to a wall according to historian Saxo Grammaticus, but probably not in Vestervig. Today nobody actually knows who are really buried in the double grave. But the legend is very romantic and even today brides leave their bridal bouquet on the grave as a wish for a happy marriage.

Close to the church is a so-called "beeshus". I don't know how to translate it. "Bees" is local dialect for the Danish word "bisse" which means "stampede" and "hus" translates to "house", so literally a "stampede house". Or rather a house that should prevent stampeding. In the old days the cattle was grassing free in the fields, and in summertime the animals often were attacked by warble flies which could make them stampede. When many warble flies were present the farmers could drive the cattle into these houses to prevent the stampeding. There are a few such beeshus left in the area, and this particular one, today serves as an exhibition that tells of the church and the monastery, which we looked at for a while. Right behind the beeshus is another cemetery, called Sankt Thøgers Kirkegård. On the cemetery you can see the foundations of Sankt Thøgers Church, that is even older than Vestervig Kirke. Thøger is known in English as Theodgar of Vestervig, and according to legend he build the first primitive, church made of straw and twigs himself around 1050. He died in 1065 and his remains was placed in a box at the alter of his church, but later the church was replaced by one built of ashlar, and the shrine that contained his remains, were moved to this church in 1117. In 1197 it was reburied somewhere in the abbey, and today nobody know the exact spot of the grave. In the 42 years he was placed at the alter, miracles happened here, so some years after his death, he was canonized by either pope Alexander II or Gregory VII. We took some pictures of what was left of the later church before moving on.

We drove south and crossed Limfjorden at the town of Struer but continued south without stopping. At Holstebro we turned east to Viborg. On our way we passed the calcium mines in Daugbjerg and Mønsted, but as it was close to closing time, we decided to postpone a visit there to a later time. Instead we drove to the center of Viborg, where we visited the cathedral which is famous for it's frescos painted by Danish painter and sculpturer, Joakim Skovgaard from 1901 to 1906. The cathedral building is from the 19th century, but there has been a cathedral here since 1130. We spent some time inside the cathedral, admiring the frescos, and other things. In the cathedral a single Danish King, Erik V Klipping, is buried under the floor, so we looked at his gravestone as well. More about Klipping to follow in a future article.

Outside the cathedral is a lawn. Here Viborg Landsting was held for 600 years and the kings of Denmark were hailed here by the noblemen, while staing on a large stone. A statue of Queen Margrethe I and her son Oluf om the stone is commemorizing this. Oluf was only six years old when he was hailed as king, and he died 11 years later, before his seventeenth birthday. Across from the cathedral is a small garden. Here we saw a statue bust of Steen Stensen Blicher, priest, authour and poet, who was born near Viborg. He was the author of stories like "The diary of a parish clerk", "The Hosier and his daughter" and "The Rector of Vejlby". The latter being written in 1829 was the first Danish crime novel. This was the final event of the day, and we found our hotel and relaxed before next day's sightseeing in central Jylland.

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