Danevirke

Danevirke

In the early middle Ages, at the height of Viking supremacy, the border of the Danish kingdom was formed by an extensive system of fortifications and earthen ramparts that extended across the breadth of Jutland. The consolidated ramparts formed the Danevirke, the military line of defense that simultaneously functioned as a line of trade and toll border. Haithabu, the Viking’s most important city where trade relations reached to the Middle East, was located at the top of this line. What remains of this historic border currently lies forgotten and abandoned in Germany. The rich history of the ramparts is still deeply rooted in Danish consciousness, yet it has no meaning for those currently living in the area.

The Danevirke has received UNESCO heritage status and is entering a new age. The excavation of the line is no longer permitted now that the earthen ramparts are official monuments. Therefore the area was confronted with the question: What relationship can a monument have to a surrounding landscape where it has no significance? In response, Bureau B+B developed a strategy to introduce the Danevirke into the collective awareness.

The design began with inspiration from the historic novel “Yggdrasil, Asgard und Vanaheim” which constructs a mental landscape of the ramparts, seemingly insignificant at first sight, and places them in a rich historical context. Set against the background of Haithabu and the Danevirke, the novel is about powerful Viking kings, long journeys, heroic deeds and romantic intrigues. They are not fictional stories; the events in the book really took place. Passing these stories on in book form gives life to the 35-kilometer long defense line, and places the stories into the memory and perception of the landscape for visitors and those living around the line. A valuable, cerebral landscape is reborn.

The places where the defenses have been cut, large cast-iron grates mark the “Yggdrasil route”. History can be experienced walking along the entire line of defense with the book in hand. The route travels from Haithabu along the fortifications, ramparts and the newly added enclosed gardens with an “Yggdrasil”, or holy yew tree, according to the Vikings. These gardens belong to the neighborhoods and villages surrounding the ramparts and form podiums for story-telling and modern rituals.

In the spring, the tops of the ramparts are ablaze with an explosion of blooming flowers and herbs around the cast-iron grates. Seeds of the plants and herbs once used by the Vikings for cooking or for medicinal purposes are hidden between the cast-iron wrought Viking poems. Once a year, the now fragmented Danevirke line is welded together into an unbroken line of unprecedented blossoming splendor.

  • Location: Am Haddebyer Noor, Busdorf, Duitsland
  • Concept: 2010