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History of Dyrehaven

Pre-history

Jægersborg Dyrehave is located facing the Sound (Øresund) in a typical glacial landscape with subglacial stream trenches such as Ulvedalene and Mølleåen, and with wide plains. The landscape was formed by ice and melt water 10,000 years ago and by the isostatic uplift when the heavy pressure of the ice disappeared. Like the rest of Denmark, this landscape was covered by forest as the climate grew warmer. 

During the Neolithic Period 6,000 years ago, our forefathers began felling the forests in order to cultivate the land, and to ensure grazing for cattle, which also ate the beechnuts on the trees and in so doing helped keep back the forest.

In the 1600s, when King Frederik III and King Christian V established Dyrehaven, only two-three percent of Denmark was covered by forest.

We know that people lived in Dyrehaven in prehistory because of the park’s many ancient monuments. Dyrehaven has about 80 grave mounds, and most of them are from the Bronze Age in the years from 1700 to 500 BCE. Rock carvings have also been discovered.

The village of Stokkerup was first mentioned in 1492 in the Copenhagen manorial court roll and consisted of 16 farms and some small houses. On the Eremitagesletten, traces can still be seen of ridges and furrows where they ploughed with heavy mouldboard ploughs. The farmers were tenant farmers under the Ibstrup crownlands, later named Jægersborg, and they suffered so much during the Swedish siege in the 1650s that half the houses were abandoned.

The spring waters and Bakken amusement park

According to legend, in 1583 a young woman named Kirsten Piil found a spring which acquired extraordinary healing powers on account of her piety. Therefore, sick people flocked to the spring in the weeks around Sankt Hans (Midsummer), when the healing powers were unusually strong, and an annually recurring market with entertainers and tradesmen arose around the spring.

The market grew larger and larger, and the master of the royal hunt assigned the market to the site on which Bakken amusement park stands today. Bakken is the world's oldest existing amusement park.

Dyrehaven

In 1669, King Frederik III (1648-1670) fenced in about three square kilometres north of Copenhagen; Boveskov or Bøgeskov (beech forest). At that time, the population of deer in Denmark was falling, and large land owners commonly fenced in the game in animal parks, both to ensure sufficient deer for hunting and to have easy access to the coveted meat. The Royal Household alone consumed 1,000 deer per year.

The area, which was in the south and east part of the current Dyrehaven, was called Stokkerup Dyrehave, named after the village that used the forest. This was located near the existing Eremitageslot (Hermitage Palace). There was an old population of red deer and fallow deer in the area, but game from all over Northern Zealand was fenced in. In 1737, King Christian VI received 12 white red deer from Elector August of Saxony. The existing white red deer in Dyrehaven are descendants of these. (Read more about the deer under Attractions).

Parforce hunting

Already before he died, the King Frederik III left Stokkerup Dyrehave to the crown prince, who shortly after became King Christian V (1670-1699). At the age of 16 years, the crown prince was on a grand tour to the court of the French Sun King, Louis XIV, where he was enthralled by parforce hunting. In parforce hunting, 20-30 hunters on horseback, with blaring hunting horns and howling dogs, chase down a single red deer until it is so exhausted that the most aristocratic person among the hunters can walk up to the deer and kill it with a finishing strike using a short hunting sword, a hirschfänger. This type of hunting requires space, and therefore King Christian V enlarged the area by more than five-times by fencing in 17 km around what is now known as Dyrehaven and Jægersborg Hegn, and he established ruler-straight hunting roads which meet at the site of the village of Stokkerup, the current Eremitageslette. Half the 16 farms of the village were already empty after the Swedish war, and the rest of the farmers were told that they could move into abandoned farms outside Dyrehaven. As compensation they were given three year's tax relief. The farms were torn down, but the village pond still exists south-east of the Eremitagen hunting castle, which was established in 1734-36 by King Christian VI on the site of Hubertushuset, which was built by King Christian V.

King Christian V liked parforce hunting so much that he organised these hunts regularly during nine months of the year. Young deer were only left alone when they were really young in May, June and July. On 3 November 1698, Hubertus Day (named after the archangel of hunting) the King was kicked by a red deer and this led to his death the following year. The incident occurred at an oak which still stands south-west of the Nr. Eremitagevej/Chausseen intersection.

Parforce hunting was banned in 1777, but the royal hunting roads which are also found in Gribskov and Hareskoven, are now on the candidate list as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Eremitagen

Eremitageslot (Hermitage Palace), which was built in 1734-36 in late baroque style by King Christian VI, was designed by Lauritz de Thurah and replaced Hubertushuset, which was built by King Christian V as a place to entertain in seclusion from listening servants; "a hermitage" - in solitude. In the old and the new hunting castle, the middle part of the dining table had an elevator which could be raised and lowered to the kitchen with new dishes for the hunting feast. The installation was called a hermitage or royal banquet machine, but was removed from the new Eremitageslot in the end of the 17th century.

The solitary castle, which crowns the top of the hill and overlooks Dyrehaven and can be seen from far out at sea on the Sound, was only briefly used as a residence, but many kings have used it for hunting feasts, as do the current Royal Family. However, ministerial meetings have also been held at Eremitageslot (Hermitage Palace). In 1853 the former act of succession was signed here, and in 1957, Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid had lunch with the British Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at the hunting castle. Jægersborg Dyrehave was opened to the public in 1756.

The Golden Age

In 1802 Adam Oehlenschläger wrote the poem "Et Sankt Hansaftens-Spil" (a game on St. John’s evening) which tells the story of a family that leave the "nauseating walls" of Copenhagen to spend a day at Dyrehavsbakken amusement park. The poem describes the entertainers and young lovers, who eventually go into the forest to find tranquillity under an old oak.

In 1823, Oehlenschläger wrote the Danish national anthem, "Der er et yndigt land”, which describes Denmark as a wonderful country, with wide beech trees, hills and valleys along the salty eastern beach where the trees are reflected in the blue sea. It is said that inspiration for the song was found in Dyrehaven, but people from the island of Langeland and eastern Falster claim that the inspiration came from their area too.

In his memoires, Oehlenschläger writes about his childhood, and that he and his family went to Dyrehaven every summer, where they carved their names into a large beech tree. Unfortunately, "Oehlenschläger's beech" died from old-age a few years ago. Adam Oehlenschläger is a leading exponent of the Golden Age in Danish art and cultural life in the first half of the 19th century. The Golden Age also included painters such as C.W. Eckersberg and P.C. Skovgaard who, among many others, depicted the untouched nature and life in Dyrehaven.

Dyrehaven and cultural life

The term Dyrehaven painters is not only positive; there are many "production-line" paintings of roaring red deer, gnarled oak trees and of Peter Lieps Hus (Peter Liep’s House). However, great artists such as David Monies, Paul Fischer and Theodor Philipsen, and in our time, Niels Strøbek and particularly Jeppe Eisner have also been inspired by Dyrehaven and Bakken. 

Poets such as Ambrosius Stub, Ludvig Holberg, Christian Winther, H.C. Andersen, Johannes V. Jensen, H.C. Branner and Knud Sønderby have written about this national natural area.

In February 1900 a duel with pistols was fought in Dyrehaven between Edvard Brandes; a theatre critic from the Danish newspaper Politiken and later editor in chief, and Robert Schyberg; an actor. Robert Schyberg had slapped Brandes on the face in public because of a bad review, and the theatre critic therefore challenged Schyberg to a duel. The duellists and their seconds met on the 10th of February in the morning and each fire two shots. None of them hit their targets, but as duelling was unlawful, they were both imprisoned for 14 days.

Edvard Brandes' brother, the writer, Georg Brandes, who died in 1927, had his ashes scattered near Slesvigske Sten in Dyrehaven.

In 1910, the Royal Danish Theatre starting organising grand outdoor performances in the valleys of Ulvedalene in the summer. This tradition stopped in 1949 but was revived in 1996. "Robin Hood" was performed in 2013.

Sports in Dyrehaven

Whether you walk, run, cycle, horse-back ride, rollerskate, ski, fly a kite or play golf, exercising in Jægersborg Dyrehave is a wonderful experience.

From 1860 to 1910, there was a horserace on Eremitagesletten. This is where the first football match on Danish soil took place in 1897, and since 1900, Sportsrideklubben has held its Hubertus Hunt each year on the first Sunday in November. From 1896 to 1939, the Fortunløbet run took place each year on the third Sunday in March and since 1969 the Eremitage Run has taken place each year on the first Sunday in October.

Since 1962, in the third weekend in August, the scouts have battled in strange, home-made boats on Mølleåen, ending at Raadvad.

Small restaurants

Initially, the foresters in Dyrehaven were entitled to serve alcohol at their foresters' houses near the gates, and many of these later became small restaurants. A forester in Klampehuset outside the Klampenborgporten gate even used the hollow of the forester's oak as a bar.

The last restaurant, Trepile Porthus, closed in 1987. However, even today, there are many restaurants at Bakken and in Dyrehaven itself, of which the most famous is Peter Lieps Hus, which is one of the places where you can bring your own picnic basket. Other restaurants include Kongekilden, Studenterkilden, Raadvad Kro, Fortunen, Piil & Co and just outside Dyrehaven, among others, Den Gule Cottage, Den Røde Cottage and Strandmøllekroen.

Mills

The valley of the Mølleåen stream has been called the cradle of Danish industry, and three of the nine mills along the Mølleåen stream are located in Jægersborg Dyrehave. These are Stampen, Raadvad and Strandmøllen.

Today, all that remains of the original stamp mill is the bridge leading across Mølleåen. The building located on the site today is a stamp mill from Himmerland in Jutland, and it was moved here by the National Museum of Denmark in the 1970s. However, there has been a mill at Stampedam since the 13th century; first to grind corn and later for fulling (tucking) cloth. The wool was hardened by felting it.

The Raadvad Mølle mill is from the 17th century and is especially known for its knives, but hand weapons, agricultural tools and gunpowder were also manufactured here, as well as fulled cloth, and an entire town was built around the mill for the employees. In 1973 production was discontinued, and the National Museum of Denmark took over the site, which, since 1986 has been run by an independent institution for the preservation of old Nordic crafts. The mill at Raadvad Mølle has received the Europa Nostra award for preservation of old buildings.

Strandmøllen is the last mill before the estuary of Mølleåen into the sea at the Sound. In 1599, this was Denmark's first paper mill and it functioned as such for 250 years. Today, the mill houses a modern business, Strandmøllen Industrigas A/S.

The name Jægersborg Dyrehave

In 1669 King Frederik III had the former Boveskov, i.e. Bøgeskov (beech forest), fenced in with game from the hinterland in his new Dyrehave (deer park), so that he could host hunting events. He died the following year. His son King Christian V expanded the park with the lands that belonged to the village of Stokkerup and which today is known as Eremitagesletten as well as the area north of Mølleåen which is now Jægersborg Hegn. At the same time he renamed Ibstrup Slot to Jægersborg Slot.

Hence the name Jægersborg Dyrehave; usually just Dyrehaven.