With 13 million kr (1.75 million EUR) in hand, Sagnlandet Lejre can now realize the dream of a new historical activity area and a 19th-century dining house that supports the many historical tales of the cultural institution and the development towards being open all year round.
Peter Skak-Iversen, member of the board of Sagnlandet Lejre says the new attraction may open for the annual 60,000 visitors of the open-air museum as early as 2019. The board member was allowed to make a public statement on Thursday 22 January about the millions-large donation from the Annie & Otto Johs. Detlefs’ Fonde who have supported Danish cultural and art organisations since 2010 with a total of over 400 million of Danish kr. “For many years, the Foundation, which was founded by Annie and the now deceased Otto Johs. Detlefs has been an invaluable support to Danish cultural life.”
Bowling green, rowing boats and historical food
In total, Sagnlandet Lejre received just about 1.75 million EUR which will be used to build a 19th-century dining house and an activity area focusing on play and movement in a historical perspective: “the fund's support is a huge gift for us. With their help, we will be able to renovate our current food house, the Videsøhus from 1763, which witnesses the damage of the times”, says Peter Skak-Iversen, explaining that the fund's donation allows renovation and development of a central support function for the guests who typically spend most of a day in the scenic scenery of Sagnlandet. “With the donation, we can now also make the much needed lunch or dinner break a strong and integral part of their overall experience. We intend to refurbish a preserved historic building while creating an atmospheric dining room where guests, thanks to new kitchen facilities, will also be able to "taste story". The idea is to serve food based on old historical dishes and produce.”
"Besides the house itself, we upgrade the surroundings around the Videsøhus, which is one of Sagnlandet Lejre's central and popular activity areas. This area, Fire Valley (Båldalen), does not live up to present day standards”, says the happy board member. Around the new dining house, we will create an atmospheric environment with ancient varieties of fruit trees, an old-fashioned outdoor bowling alley and a historic playground with 19th-century activities that encourage common play and physical development across generations.
"And yes, you are welcome to go pick apples and make apple juice," he added with a smile, saying that the new fruit trees should be for free use for the Sagnlandet camps’ many guests.
"Around the fruit trees, we will have an animal flock with sheep and goats of historical breeds. The animals help us manage nature so that we get a nice and easily accessible entrance, while the guests, especially the little ones, can get quite close to the people-friendly animals. A highly needed cleanup of the lake in the middle of Fire Valley, also allows visitors to sail in that part of the lake where you can not sail today, he says and continues:
”In this way, we get a bigger recreational area for sailing while giving both the very young children and the grandparents who are no longer so easy to get the opportunity to experience the joy of getting to the water. Because of the donation, we get the opportunity to acquire a number of beautiful, hand-built, historic rowing boats. The new rowing boats will complement Sagnland's prehistoric and very low-lying wooden logboats, which for generations have been a hit for the more daring and affectionate families and schoolchildren.”
The Food House, fruit trees and nature restoration support Viking efforts
As if the good news was not enough in itself, there is an extra pleasure for Sagnlandet Lejre saved in the publication of the great gift.
The donation from Annie & Otto Johs. Detlefs' Funds supports and reinforces the very positive development of Sagnlandet Lejre, which was launched in 2015 with the design of a new Viking environment thanks to large donations from A.P. Møller and Wife Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller's Fund for General Purpose and the Augustine Foundation. The new Viking environment comes among other things to accommodate Denmark's absolute largest royal hall from the Viking era, which we are just beginning to build, says archaeologist and director of Sagnlandet Lejre, Lars Holten:
The archaeological remains of the Royal Hall are excavated in the legendary Lejre region, where the legends tell us that Denmark's first royal family, the Skjoldunger, had their seat. When the recreated royal hall is finished in Sagnlandet, it becomes an icon for the area's new National Park Skjoldungernes Land, appointed by the Minister for the Environment. All of these good developments will attract many guests from home and abroad to the whole Lejre area. Thus it is for sure that Sagnland's number of visitors will grow, and it is wonderful to know that thanks to Annie & Otto Johs. Detlefs' Fund Gift the guests will now also have an inviting and recreational entrance area with an atmospheric dining environment, complemented by good facilities for the smallest and special needs toilets”, concludes a proud and happy director.