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Inns and hags – place names by the river Kongeå

 The high topographical maps from 1899 show some of the place names south of Jedsted.
The high topographical maps from 1899 show some of the place names south of Jedsted. Photo: Kort og Mastrikelstyrelsen.

Place names tell the local history

Names of farms, fields, meadows, roads, places and streams tell us the history of an area's development. For example, the Kongeå got its name because the river forms the border between the king’s part of Denmark and the duchies of Southern Jutland. The name Kongeå first appears in written sources in 1698. Until then the river was called Skodborg Å after an abandoned castle, which in 1298 was called Skotborg. 

The inns

Along the main routes were the public houses, which usually had the suffix ’kro’ (inn), for example Villebøl Kro and Kalvslund Kro in Kalvslund parish and the Hvide Kro in Farup parish. There were also illegal drinking places which should preferably avoid any attention from the authorities, yet at the same time should attract customers. They had names like ’Kom-Igen’ (Come-Again), ’Snur-om’,(Spin-around), ’Kig-Ind’ (Look-In) or ’Tænd-Pibe’ (Light-Pipe), where you could enjoy a pipe (and a mug of beer) in peace and quiet. Both in Farup and Hjortlund parish there were inns called ’Snur-om’. Both were located where the road turns (spins), and the name invited you to spin in to get a mug of beer. 

Crossing points

Names with the suffixes –bro  -vejle, -vase and -spang showed where you could cross the watercourses and gorges. Gredstedbro and Vilslev Spang both lead across the river Kongeå, but there could also be a ferryman with a boat or barge, as shown in Fermstoft and Fermstoft Fælled in Kalvslund parish. Ferm is a contraction of the word ’færgemand’ (meaning ferryman). The parish also contains Fævase and Råsvejle where ’fæ’ (cattle) and ros (horses) went through.

In Hjortlund you can find Driftvej (meaning operating) and south of Gredstedbro is Drivervej (referring to driving cattle). Bullocks and other animals were taken through here, and it was not unusual to have complaints about the animals that went into the fields to graze.

Animal life

Place names also show where wild animals or animal husbandry have been present.

In Vilslev parish, the storks flocked to Storkevang, and horses were kept at Følhave (’føl’ meaning foal).

The parish names Hjortlund and Kalvslund can be traced back to 1325 and mean ’the small forest with deer’ and ’the small forest with calves’. Other examples in Kalvslund is Kokhave (cock), Fæsti (beast), Fårebjerg (sheep), Ravnemark (raven), Rævebakke (fox), Skadeng (magpie) and Ålegårdsskifte (eel trap). However, Katteskæg does not refer to a cat, but to the plant Nardus stricta.

In Hjortlund there are several animal references at Fårehus (sheep), Fårevej (sheep) and Kalvefenne (calf). Bjørnekærsvang (bear) probably refers to a man named Bjørn, which means bear.

Inspectors, hags and shitty meadows

In Kalvslund you can find Kontrolørager and Kontrolørskifte (inspector), which were pieces of land owned by customs inspectors.

Among the more special place names are Kællingrendesti and Kællinghøjsvang in Hjortlund and Kællingvang in Kalvslund. Evidently, the area was plagued by ’kællinger’ (old hags), who were female beggars.

The prefix of skide (literally meaning ’shit’) in the names Skidenast, Skidenfenne and Skidenhjørne in Kalvslund warn against marshy and muddy (brown) areas, which people should try to avoid. There was also a Skidenast in Hjortlund. The suffix ’–ast’ means rump or bottom, so here was the brown rump.

Likewise, the ’ond’ (evil) in Onde Enge and Ondhøjsvangin Hjortlund signified places where it was difficult to cultivate land or where the meadows were hard to mow. You might also think that Pissemose was to place to urinate. It is possible, but it could also be Persemose, as the place was called in 1922. ’Perse’ means to smooth, squeeze or press together, so perhaps the place was used for a laundry.

Author: Charlotte Lindhardt