Hulbjerg Passage Grave

Do you dare to crawl into the darkness?

On South Langeland a little east of Bagenkop you will find Langeland's finest burial chamber. It is located on a hill, and especially when you come from the east along Søgårdsvej you get the impression of a monumental building. In 1875, however, it was described as "one thorn bush overgrown high" where two or three cover stones were visible at the top. One cover stones, moreover, was "twisted out of place." In 1947, three cover stones and one supporting stone were visible. In 1960, Langelands Museum embarked on a major excavation and restoration project. Labor was provided by public support. As was the case in 1933, when Julius Raklev excavated the burial chamber at Kinderballe, around 1960 it was possible to direct the unemployed to the heavy work of excavating the burial chamber at Hulbjerg - with the proviso that the workers "must leave work immediately if their labor force may be necessary for agricultural work, in industry, housing construction or ordinary work in general."

During the excavation, heavy bone mounds and rich finds of objects of clay, flint, bone and amber were found in the south end and inner part of the chamber. Studies of the bone material could tell that there were remains of at least 53 people, 17 of whom were children. Using carbon-14 dating, it could also be established that the people whose bones were placed in the burial chamber did not live at the same time, ie. that the burial chamber had been used over a long period, probably over many centuries from its construction at the end of the 4th millennium BC.

Among the individual finds, two skulls were particularly interesting. In one of the lower jaws there were several teeth left and one of the cheek teeth had a hole! The hole was 4 mm in diameter and 6 mm deep and in all probability made with a flint drill: With modern scanning equipment, one could detect the characteristic round scratches that a rotating drill makes. The patient's teeth had severe caries attacks and a chronic inflammatory condition which has been very painful. The operation has probably had to alleviate and alleviate the pain. In a contemporary attempt to repeat the procedure on another tooth, it took five and a half minutes to complete it! Did it help then - this extensive intervention? Yes, of course we do not know if the patient became pain free after the drilling, but we know at least that he lived some time after that. From several scans it could be seen that tartar had formed on the surface of the hole itself. And that can only have happened while the patient was alive. The find is Denmark's oldest tooth bore.

The second skull, which was especially interesting, also had a hole, but here in the skull itself, a little above the temple. Probably a hole was made in the room to relieve the pressure on the brain after an injury. Whether it has been after an accident or after a blow, we do not know, but the hole sits in front on the left side, which corresponds to injury after a blow from a right-handed person. The intervention is called a trepanation and is known from several finds from the Stone Age. The edges of the hole show new bone mass formation - therefore we can also say here that the patient not only survived the operation, but actually also lived some time after it.

Both skulls are exhibited at Langelands Museum at Jens Winthers Vej 12 in Rudkøbing.

The graveyard was restored after the investigation. The missing pavement was replaced by granite blocks previously used by the road authority!

(Source: "Fortidsminder på Langeland", Langelands Museum)