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Underground treasures

It is said that time is the great healer and an eraser of all tracks, but fortunately this is not always so. Thanks to zealous archaeologists and their desire to dig deep, we do know quite a bit about the past that will unfold when you set out on this route. Along the way you will pass the second largest gold find in Denmark and also the oldest Iron-age trading post. You will also pass a burial place for more than 2,200 women and men. Then, of course, there are the long barrows - the communal graves with their impressive megaligths.

The trading post at Lundeborg is the oldest of its kind in Denmark. Actually, during the Roman Iron Age from 100 to 400 AD it was among the biggest in Northern Europe. Quite recently, in 1986, it saw the light of day again. When rolling past it, think of the fact that in this place the locals welcomed tradesmen from distant destinations such as Rome and the Black Sea. These traders brought luxury items such as drinking glasses, gold coins and silver and gold jewelry. Today, local people revive this past by staging an Iron Age market every summer at the old trading post.

The Broholm Treasure weighs just about the same as 4½ litres of milk. The 4½ kg gold treasure was found at Lundeborg in 1833 and is on display at the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen. Lord of the Manor, and a keen amateur archaeologist, N.F.B. Sehested witnessed the gold find, which was to be the second largest next to the fi nd of ‘the Golden Horns’. At the Broholm manor he built a little museum for the display of some of the other treasures that appeared out of the rich soil. For more information on the museum, please contact Svendborg Museum.
Make a little side trip to Møllegårdsmarken, which is Scandinavia’s largest burial place dating from the Roman Iron Age. People from the Gudme and Lundeborg area were buried here, often with precious grave goods. Digs by Lord of the Manor N.F.B. Sehested and other archaeologists show that about 2,200 people found their last resting place here. But even before this time burials took place in this area. Park your bike and walk a mile or two through the wood and along Tange Å and you will arrive at two 5,000 years’ old burial chambers – passage graves.

Take a break and count the 52 rocks on the outside and the 45 rocks on the inside. Now you know the 60 m long dolmen at Brudager. The history of this long barrow is the history of several burial chambers built in the Late Stone Age more than 5,000 years ago. In recent times it is also the history of a quarry that provided stones for house and road building. In the evocative wood and memorial grove of Gudbjerglund at Gudbjerg you can see the remains of four long barrows, the longest of which is all of 117 m. For several thousand years the long barrows have served as burial places and later on as building materials for the local vicarage and for the bridges crossing the streams.

In 1993, GOG, the local handball club had to look around for a new place to build their sports hall as the planned site suddenly burst with archaeological fi nds from the Iron Age. No other place in Scandinavia can boast finds from this period on a par with those from the Gudme area, and in the years 400-550 AD Gudme was the most important centre of power in Denmark. The area was named the Valley of the Gudme King and markers have been laid out in the ground so that you may see the contours of the 50 m long and 9.5 m wide mead hall if you leave your bike and climb the stairs of the on-site public viewing tower.