Where the River Kongeå meets the ancient road Hærvejen
Vejen municipality is the area where Hærvejen's branching countryside arteries meet with Kongeåen. Throughout most of prehistorical and historical time, the municipality has been a communicative and trafficated nerve centre. Almost everywhere you go, you can find relics when digging in the ground. Right back from the Neolithic period, settlements have been found with large longhouses.
This large and intensive settlement activity continuesright through ancient and modern times. The burial mounds from the Neolithic and Bronze Age often form rows and long lines in the landscape, which presumably must reflect the routes of those times.
Visible burial mounds
Burial mounds were built in places where they were visible, not just for locals but also for foreign wayfarers. Down through the current Vejen town, lies a row of burial mounds, that swings south of the town swung in a western towards Foldingbro. Important fords or bridge constructions over the river Kongeåen would certainly been built here.
Another more westerly crossing by the large watercourse, according to the burial mound collection, could have been constructed at Tobøl-Plougstrup. A handful of bridge foundations and fords have been registered at different places along the river Kongeå, mostly consisting of large stones and downward pointing oak posts. Unfortunately, none of these crossings can be dated in greater detail.
Two fords have been found between Skodborghus and Københoved, where the westernmost post lay 300 metres east of site where the rune stone was found in Malt. In this area, five north-south heading sunken roads have been registered that run down towards the Kongeå river. Further west near Lintrup and Plougstrup, fords have also registered in the river.
The place names Skibelund and Københoved bear witness to sites of traffic and commercial importance. The latter name means place of commerce, and it seems natural that they were found on stretches where important land and water routes met. The name can go back to the Viking Age or early Iron Age.
It is interesting here that the Malt rune stone from the 800s was just 1,200 metres north of Københoved. Right next to the monument, a hollowed road could be followed in a north-south direction and this may have led down to the marketplace
Lage Viking Age and Middle Ages
n the late Viking Age and Middle Ages, the crossing by Skodborghus become the main point where the the ancient road Hærvejen and the river Kongeå met. The due north-south stretch of road, the Skodborg route, became more significant, which culminated with the construction of Skodborghus sometime in the Middle Ages.
The main thoroughfare on land, Hærvejen, went from Viborg to Jelling in an almost straight north-south line just like the stretch from Immervad to Dannevirke. But along the stretch, Hærvejen branched off in between, allowing several roads to be in use at the same time.
The roads continuously changed tracks when they became too bad for wagon traffic. Kongeåen's bridges and fords have done the same, where several transitions have been in use at the same time. A systematic study of the river's bridge foundations with tree-ring dating of the preserved timber will increase our knowledge of wayfarers routes over the course of time.
Henrik Becker-Christensen 1981. Hærvejen i Sønderjylland – et vejhistorisk studie. Fra Kongeåen til Dannevirke. Vojens.