fredag 6. februar 2015

The Very First Time - Hooked on Hillforts Part 2

Some of the walls from "The Twin Forts"
You can read Hooked on Hillforts Part 1 here.

I picked two forts that lie right beside each other as my first forts to go visit. They are called "The Twin Forts". I strode out in the car with my local history book1 under my forearm and a rucksack filled with candy and coffee to drive the few kilometers from where I live in Serpent Hill and up to "Junger Lake". I knew I couldn't use too much energy to get myself into the scenery - I HAD to save my energy so I could stumble around in the woods. This could become a tiring experience with my sense of direction. People get a little shocked when they come hiking with me, because they think that I am so incredibly vigorous because I spend so much time in the woods. Fact is that I am more concerned with my food, my coffee and my chocolate than to blast my physical boundaries. I'm not necessarily moving very far in the terrain although I am gone for a long time!

I've seen many of the famous outdoor explorers on TV and they usually always have a plan. I like plans. I made a plan for this trip a little bit inspired by those celebrities and other leprechauns I've read about in books, My plan was to have enough chocolate in case I run out of energy to avoid spending too much of my long stored body fat. It could be fatal. I knew that for sure. Another part of my plan was to bring with me home made mittens that my colleague, Kristine,  had knitted for me. The weather was grey and cold and with my great resting experience I knew that I was going to insanely hurt my fingers when I sit down to eat. I would drive up to "Junger Lake" and go from there to "The Twin Forts", then go farther to the "Goat Mountain", then return to the car and drive up to the old seat and go from there to the "High Hill Fort". Hallelujah, what a challenge! I knew I had no trails to follow because there were none marked on my map, and I don't like to go outside well trodden paths when Thomas is not with me, for he is my living compass. He MUST have been a migrating bird in a previous life. Certainly.

Arriving at "Junger Lake". I take one last check in my book to see where I should go. My book has a whole chapter on forts and I thought that I almost had it all memorized at the time, but it was something I had overlooked and that was how little detailed the map was. Ooompfh, that was a bit stupid because I did not bother to bring with me the real map of the area just to keep the weight on my back down. I've heard that it is important to keep the weight down. That's why I thought that I might as well be keeping more weight down by leaving the book in the car. Yes! Did you notice how smart I was? I sometimes surprise myself with being so smart!

I took my rucksack on my back, and trudged up the hillside on the left side of the "Junger Lake". (Sure, I know that one can not talk about left and right out in the woods, but it was a bit difficult for me to point out the directions when it was cloudy, and I guess everyone understands well what I mean?) I thanked the gods someone had recently wreaked havoc on the entire area with a harvester. It might have become a little harder to walk in all the mud puddles and over slippery twigs, but it was very much easier to find  the highest peak around. What I had always known about forts was that they would be on high ground to have a good view of the main waterways which in this case would be the "Lake of the Oaks" and the "Wavy River". I could see both of them at the highest hillock in the area although if there had been trees there, then I don't think I would have seen so much. It was very nice although it certainly would have been much cozier if it had been a little bit of shrubbery left. I never would have understood that this thing once had been a stone fortress if it wouldn't have been for reading about it beforehand. I just couldn't comprehend how anyone could call any of these randomly shattered rocks for walls? The wind was very cold on top of this hill without trees. I was happy that I had brought with me mittens, and then I took them on, really satisfied by my planning skills. I knew that I needed a rest, for I had walked for about 500 meters in very rough terrain (due to the  "# ¤% harvester) and I needed to warm myself up with some hot liquids, so I looked for the nearest place it would be possible to sit sheltered from the wind. It's not that I like to brag, but finding good picnic areas is actually something I'm very good at!

I went down from the hillock in a kind of a crack in the mound and found a completely circular spot of bog. Wow! There are some things that are impossible to capture with a camera, and one of these things is the intense feeling I had when I stood right there. The only one who could possibly do it must be Dagfinn Kolberg, the famous Norwegian wildlife photographer. I could certainly not do it, even though I tried very hard. The bog was like a small hole surrounded by two mountain sides that stood straight up in the sky. It felt a bit like sitting on the lap of Mother Earth. It was safe and warm there even though the wind blew on the peaks. I disengaged myself from the wonderful feeling of being taken care of and went farther into the fine scenery. Then I found them! The walls! Exactly! No wonder why I didn't understand that I had seen the ruins of a fort when it actually wasn't a fort I had been to. There was no doubt that this was the real fort. I leapt uphill and was in ecstasy.I saw the contours of another fort nearby after having inspected the walls up on the fort. It was only a mini gorge in between, and I felt like I could have been "Ronia" from "Ronia the Robber's Daughter2", the novel. Two forts with a crack in between that separated them. I wondered if there was a handsome "Birk" on the other side? I got over the gorge and found nothing but a nice view to the east end of the village, the "Wavy River", and the vast marshland below me. Anyways, that was fine for an established and steady lady at my age who normally appreciate a spectacular view over a man. At least was this a very nice place to have a rest.

I joined my best hiking companions; the chocolate and my coffee thermos, while I thought that this probably had been part of a defense system. Carbon dating methods have shown that hill forts were here around the Migration Period (about 400-600 CE.) There are many forts on "The Land of the Oaks" and they should all be in direct or indirect sight of each other. The guardians on the forts would kindle beacons to warn the people of the valley so they could get themselves and their livestock to one of the forts that also was used as strongholds when enemies were spotted on "The Lake of the Oaks" or "The Wavy River". These strongholds were almost impregnable because of their locations in the landscape with cliffs on several sides and high walls with wooden palisades where the entrances must have been. I tried to see it all before my eyes, thinking that "The Twin Forts" gave a very strong sense of peace. It was hard to imagine that there would have been attacks from enemies here in this mood. Perhaps it was a very safe haven that never got attacked, far away in the woods as it is. They had everything they needed of food and drink. There was plenty of water nearby, venison to hunt and fish to catch. I also think that all the different forts around here may have had separate features. When one place served as a guarding fort and lit the fire, the villagers seeked refuge in other forts some distance away. Otherwise it would surely become very easy for the enemy to find people if they went after the flames. It struck me that the area was not so big inside the walls of the fort where I was, and I thought that it could not have been so many families who stayed there. It seemed to me that it was perhaps a little strange if people from several farms took refuge in this same little spot with their livestock. They believe that hill forts on "The Land of the Oaks" were attached to a mighty center and they think that this center may have been Haug (The Mound) or Lunde (The Grove) because we know that these farms have been great and powerful at a past time. Maybe the chieftain wanted the forts to loom in the terrain and scare the enemy away, or maybe some of them were the status symbols of the past? There is also a theory that the enemy may have come from the west, ie over the mountains, based on the locations of the following forts "The Fort near the Land where Ull was worshipped", "The Castle near the Farm by the Bog", "The Mountain of the Walls" and "The Fort near the Farm with Delimited Land",  but then it is not so likely that the forts' main purposes were to control the waterways.

I knew that I had more forts to visit. I packed my rucksack quickly and completed the rest of my planned trip, and I will write about that later.

Go to "Hooked on Hillforts Part 3"

1 Holtefjellboka by Per Ivar Søbstad
2 Ronia the Robber's Daughter, a famous novel by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren:

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