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 defence that also functioned as a line of trade and toll border. Haithabu, the Viking’s most important city whose 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 what so ever for those currently living around it.

The Danevirke has received UNESCO heritage status and can enter a new age. Excavation of the line is no longer permitted now that the earthen ramparts are official monuments. What relationship can a monument have to a surrounding landscape in which it has no meaning? Bureau B+B developed a strategy to introduce the Danevirke into the collective memory.

Constructing a mental landscape and publishing the historic novel “Yggdrasil, Asgard und Vanaheim” take 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. These 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 defence line, and implants 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 defences have been cut, large cast-iron grates mark the “Yggdrasil route”. The entire line of defences can be walked along this route and with the book in hand, history can be experienced. The route travels from Haithabu along fortifications, ramparts and the newly added enclosed gardens with an “Yggdrasil”, or holy yew tree, according to the Vikings. These gardens belong to the neighbourhoods and villages surrounding the ramparts and form podia 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 welding together into an unbroken line of unprecedented blossoming splendour.

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