Sømosen

Photo: BET

Formerly home to entertainers and circus artists: Sømosen offers a unique story, beautiful nature and is definitely worth a visit.

Today Sømosen is an idyllic spot to enjoy a moment surrounded by beautiful nature. However, 100 years ago, the moor was an desolate environment and home to a number of foreign travellers.

Sømosen

Sømosen is a high moor located between the hills of Jyske Ås (the Jutlandic Ridge) in the southern part of Dronninglund Forest.

Sømosen carries an interesting history of people of the past and is definitely worth a visit.

Up until the last century, the slopes of the high moor were inhabited by more than 40 families, all of whom were traders, artists, entertainers and musicians. The families were attracted to the desolate area of Sømosen. During winters, they lived in primitive cottages and caves, and during summer, they went round the country to perform.

The parking lot at Sømosen is free to use. You find the parking lot if you turn left on Kirkevej in the southern end of Dronninglund Forest.

Read about Dronninglund Forest and Sømosen in this brochure

Hiking routes

The network of hiking routes in Dronninglund Forest consists of 3 different routes, all marked by signs and arrows. One of the routes, "Sømoseruten", starts in Sømosen.

  • "Sømoseruten" is marked with red and is either 2 km in a shortened version or 3 km in full length.
  • "Bøgeskovsruten" is marked with yellow and is either 3,5 km in a shortened version or 6 km in its full length.
  • "Nåleskovsruten" is marked with blue and is 5 km.

Download brochure with a map of all three routes (in Danish) 

NB: The routes are not suited for walking-impaired, wheelchair-users or other vehicles.

The story of Sømosen

It might be hard to see unless you know, but around the year 1900, the hills of Sømosen was home to a number of foreign travellers.

At that time, Sømosen was a desolate place where locals came only to stack peat in the spring time. For that reason, the place attracted a group of people who wanted to keep to themselves. During winter, the inhabitants of Sømosen, the Travelling, lived in primitive cottages along the northside of the moor. To this day, you can still see the markings of the small dirt cottages several places. These remains of the past bear witness to a special and exciting period in the history of Sømosen.

The ancestors of the Travelling were employed as soldiers of the Danish King, and when they did not need to be at the King's disposal, they roamed around the country as grinders, musicians and buskers. When the King realised it was cheaper to use peasants as soldiers and thereby introduced the conscription to military service in Denmark, the Travelling were dismissed. Even though in many places, they were chased away by the Danish people, the Travelling still felt a loyalty towards the country of Denmark, and a group of them started to travel northwards. A part of the Travelling settled in Sømosen, away from the eye of the local citizens.

Some of Denmark's most well-known circus- and entertaining families originate from the Travelling living in Sømosen, including names such as Mundeling, Hertzberg, Miehe, Benneweis and Enoch.

Around the year 1900, the town of Sømosen was the largest in the parish of Dronninglund with close to 400 residents. The Travelling had their own language that no one else could understand, they even had their own flag!

The inhabitants in Sømosen 

There were three different types of inhabitants in Sømosen: 

The Circus People who lived in Søkælderen (the Lake Basement).

The Tivoli People who lived in the eastern end of the moor.

“Krajlerne”, the remaining inhabitants who were gypsies. They tried to push in among the Circus- and Tivoli People.

Story tells that there were often disagreements between the groups, and abuse were often shouted across the moor.

The Circus People and the Tivoli People

Mundeling in Søkælderen (the Lake Basement)

Christian Adolph Andreas Mundeling, born 1832 in Ditmarsken, was a grinder and came to Sømosen in 1877. It has been said that Mundeling ruled in Sømosen, and he built a large cottage, Lyrehuset, together with his wife, Anna Catharina Dorothea Lucia Hertzberg.  

They had 12 children together, among others Erhardt and Justine Mundeling. Erhardt learned the grindercraft from his father, but also started to learn acrobatics and buskering acts, and he gradually started to entertain on his travels around the country. Over time, Mundeling succeeded with his circus, and soon enough he bought a tent that could fit 200 spectators. In 1903, Mundeling bought "Villa Vinterhvile" in Brovst. Here, he also bought a riding hall with a circus ring that was no less than 13 metres in diameter. Today, this old circus ring is placed in the Rhododendron Park in Brønderslev, full functioning and now known as “Den Runde Pavillon” (the Round Pavillon).

In 1926, after 30 years as circus director, Mundeling closed the circus. Erhardt's sister, Justine Mundeling, an attractive and fine lady, stayed in Sømosen for a long time. In 1900, she built a cottage out of sundried clay stone. She lived in the house until 1931, when she sold the house to Polack Marie for 200 kroner. Afterwards, she moved to Aalborg and died in 1958.

Polack Marie lived in the small cottage until December 1954. The cottage eventually collapsed, but you can still see the marks of clay from the bricks of the cottage to this day.

Hertzberg in the eastern end of Sømosen 

Heinrich Christopher Hertzberg was born in 1841 in Ditmarsken. He was a knife-grinder and acrobat. In 1881, he built himself a small cottage of 5 x 7 metres partially digged into the steep slopes in Sømosen. Hertzberg was a part of the Tivoli People that travelled around with waggon and carousel in the summer and lived in Sømosen during fall and winter. Around his cottage, Hertzberg planted fruit trees such as apple trees, which still stand to this day. 

The Hertzbergs travelled around the country with their amusement park (tivoli) for generations. Therefore, their children went to many different schools, among others the local school in Thorup. Eventually, the Tivoli People moved away from Sømosen and settled down in houses in the area around Dronninglund. However, you can still sense the contour of Heinrich Hertzberg's cottage in Sømosen.

The Hermits

After the Travelling had moved away from Sømosen, a number of hermits moved in, including Jens Voergård and “Mohren”. 

Jens Voergård 

Born in 1860 at Voergaard, Jens Voergård arrived in Sømosen in 1925. After having been living for rent at "Mohren", he decided to build his own house in 1932. You can still see the remains of the footing of the house as well as Jens' garden.

Jens was fond of nature and he was an intelligent man. He had had many important work positions through the times, such as supervisor of great drainage projects. The people of Sømosen was comfortable with him being around, and they often used him as a babysitter for their children. He fancied a drink and always told the children "Phew, this tastes good, but keep away from this stuff, children”.

Jens died in 1938 at the local hospital in Dronninglund, but his house could still be seen in Sømosen for several years to follow.

"Mohren"

Mohren, whose real name was Christian Julius Mohr, was born in 1860 in the poorhouse in Skæve. He was a tatter, a trader and a well digger, and the only resident in Sømosen who owned his own house. He bought the lot for half a bottle of aquavit (schnapps) and two beers. To mark the good deal, he planted a three-winged birch on his lot, which you can still see to this day.

Before he arrived in Sømosen, Mohren had 10 children with Kirsten Marie Andersen, who, perhaps with good reason, was quite a hot-tempered woman. Mohren ran away, perhaps with good reason, from both his wife and children and settled down in Sømosen.

Mohren was quite the joker and he loved to play fun and games with the peat stackers when they went to the "Bank" to grab a bite to eat.

Mohren had a daughter named Viola with his neighbour Justine Mundeling.

This content is based on material from Thorup Archives of Local History.