Sagnlandet Lejre – the Land of Legends (and Textiles)

By Solveig Pollei

“Check out and turn in the key. Take your bag to the bus. Bus departs at 9:00 am for Lejre.” And so another adventure begins.

As we continue to practice our ‘bus-riding’ skills, the roads become smaller and less traveled. Then a turn into an area with tall trees, thatched buildings with moss accents and open fields – all just beyond a building with banners inviting us to experience the Stone Age, the Iron Age, the Viking Age, to visit the smallholder, to take historical workshops. We have arrived at Sagnlandet Lejre – the Land of Legends!

Dividing into groups, we follow our guides into the sunshine. Over hills, around a boat landing, ducks announcing our arrival, we walk to an Iron Age long house. Our guide is an archaeology student in period dress and she helps us imagine a world of people, animals, trade. A world where everyone works for the survival of the community. A world which helps build into our world.

Leaving the darkness of the house, we step out and walk past the tended garden. As is often the case, we take a few moments to check out the plants! Our guide continues to show other points of interest as we walk toward our next presentation at the Dragtvaeksted. Our walk takes us into a more wooded area with the last tendrils of a morning mist rising to disappear in the morning sun. One wonders if Grendel might appear.

For those walking toward the back of our group, the ‘oohs and ahhs’ drifting back to our ears make us quicken our steps. As you can see, it is a sight to gladden the heart of any textile addict! A warp-weighted loom resting against the side, a garden of dye plants reaching for the sunshine, and hanks of richly-dyed wool by the door. A glorious hint of what awaited us.

Inside the cycle of textiles awaited: Fiber. Spinde. Farve. Vaeve. Sy. A quick glance showed the raw fibers, spindles/spinning wheel, glorious dye colors, looms, and sewn clothing. From words to hands.

 

From Ida Demant we learned of the progression from animal skin to woven fabrics. Of how the construction of garments evolved from what worked best for sewing animal skins to what was best for the fiber/cloth. Clever ideas. We were taught how to prepare nettles for the cycle. It didn’t seem possible that the resulting cloth would have such a smooth hand. There was so much to see and our presenter was so very knowledgeable, that it was very hard to leave! But there was another presentation so we made our way to the Farver Laden – the colour barn!

We were greeted by our presenter, Fria Gemynthe, who proceeded to show us ongoing dye experiments, a terraced dye garden with the plants clearly marked and then the A-frame barn. Another slice of textile heaven! Hanks of wool dyed with madder, birch, indigo, cochineal, walnut and others.

Each was carefully noted for dye, mordant, etc. And in a corner of the barn, a posterboard with half the dyed skein visible and half under another piece of posterboard in order to test lightfastness. So much to learn. But there are deadlines, so we heed the call for lunch and head to the museum cafe.

After lunch, the shop awaits. (Were you surprised?) One slight change to the shopping experience however. A swan family were resting in the sun and as we made our way to the shop, the cob made his displeasure known in voice and body-posture!

Shopping completed, we made our way to the bus, some more dry than others in a sudden rain shower. Our next stop would be a linen weaving museum. But for now, our thoughts and conversations were on our wonderful time at the Land of Legends.

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