The Quarry Worker's Footpath

For many years evidence of Hammerknuden’s oldest quarry and of the huge glacial forces during the The Ice Age have been hidden and forgotten in thickets on the land-facing “backside” of Hammerknuden. The Quarry Worker’s Footpath gives access to these forgotten places and leads past many of the places that have been central in Hammerknuden’s recent history. Mainly you will see the marks left by the large scale quarrying which have changed Hammerknuden’s topography forever. Much of the time you will be walking on the very same paths that the quarrymen used when walking from their homes in Sandvig to the rocky heights where they worked the quarries and transported the raw granite or to Hammerhavn to process the stones and ship the finished products.

So The Quarry Worker’s Footpath is not a new route, but a reopening of these paths supplemented with stories that helps you understand Hammeren’s history, the people and the rocky landscape.

The path is approximately 5.5 km and leads through rough and sometimes difficult terrain. It is waymarked using red dots and arrows on trees and rocks as well as red waymarkers on posts. The path connects Osandbugten to the east with Hammerhavn in the west. Two loops will lead you into the heights where you will see small rift valleys, ancient bedrock, streams, lakes, relics of smallholder’s quarries and huge, dramatic quarries with steep rockfaces.

Have a nice walk!

Quarrymen at Hammerknuden (Bornholms Museum).

1. Osandbugten and Sandvig

Between Sandvig and Hammerknuden we find the sandy bay Osandbugten. Here the fishermen caught live baitfish using the seine-haul fishing method. On Bornholm a seine is called “o”, so the sandy bay was called Osandbugten (O-Sand Bay). Today the place is called Sandvig Beach and Sandvig Bay as well.

The bays on both sides of Hammerknuden have been important natural harbours back to prehistoric time. They were used as refuges during bad weather and were the scenes of both peaceful trade and violent attacks from changing enemies. These threats prompted the construction of redoubts and batteries, several of which can still be seen today.
Around 1890 the beach at Sandvig became popular among German tourists and was soon know as a beach resort. But fishing and quarrying still remained the primary vocations far into the 1900’s. Until 1970 there were still 7 fishing boats moored in Sandvig’s harbour and the village was covered in stone dust from the Bornholm’s largest workplace: The quarry Hammerværket.

2. Hammerknuden

Hammerknuden or just Hammeren is a rocky prominence that rises 82 meters above the Baltic Sea. After the latest ice age Hammeren was an island separated from the rest of Bornholm by a strait because the up to 3 km thick ice cap had pressed the terrain about 22 meters into the crust of the earth. Since then Hammerknuden’s bedrock has been rising. And it still does – around 3 to 5 mm a year.

Several hundred years ago Hammerknuden was described as an area with lush pastures and woods. But in the late 1770’s the sand started drifting and changed the landscape. Sand from the coast blew inland so that Hammerknuden was transformed into a barren sandy desert and the valley between Hammerknuden and Langebjerg was filled with sand. This sandy desert slowly changed to rocky heath dominated by heather and juniper and in the late1800’s the area was grazed by more than 3.000 sheep. The combination of hungry sheep and people collecting even the tiniest twig as firewood meant that trees couldn’t grow on Hammeren. The vegetation first began to take route after the intensive use of the heath stopped, an trees first really began to grow again after World War II. Today there are larger areas covered by wood and thickets especially on the southwestern part of Hammerknuden. Since the 1970’s the vegetation on Hammeren has been managed using grazing sheep as well as manual clearing so that large parts of the area are kept as open rocky clad heaths to preserve the natural amenities.
The granite which makes up Hammerknuden was formed 1.4 billion years ago and has been a prized commodity which has formed the basis of a huge quarry industry from the 1880’s until 1971 when all quarrying on Hammeren stopped.

Hammerknuden seen from the air. To the left you can see Sandvig and the lake Hammersøen.

Goats on Hammerknuden above Sandvig. Sheep, goats and cattle help preserve the rocky heath.

3. Gâsterenden and the Radium Spring

Gâsterenden or Gâstaræjnan is a small rift valley. The place most likely got its name from the local word for ghost: Gâst (related to geist (German) and ghost (English)). Maybe because of a special weather phenomenon that can be observed in the small valley: When the fog lies heavy over Hammeren and the sun starts burning the mist away, small pockets of mist remain trapped in Gâsterenden hanging like twirly misty ghosts. Here you can find the rare fern black spleenwort growing on the rockface in Gâsterenden.
In Gâsterenden you can find Radiumkilden, the Radium Spring. The water in the spring contains the radioactive element radium. In the 1920’s the spa resorts at Wiesbaden in Germany profited on the local water containing radium since this was thought to have a health-promoting effect. So when Radium was found in the spring in 1923 local entrepreneurs saw the possibility of a new influx of tourist. The soft drink factory Mineralvandsfabriken “Bornholm” in Sandvig started marketing soda made from the radioactive water. To start with the radium soft drinks was well received but soon people lost interest and the factory closed in the early 1930’s. This was probably for the best. Today we know that the very radioactive radium is extremely harmful.


The Radium Spring trickles from the stones in Gâsterenden (Finn Hansen/

Soft drink label from the Mineralvandsfabriken ”Bornholm” boasting the drink’s radium content (Archive of Allinge-Sandvig byforening).

Advertising for ”Real Radium Lemon Soda from Bornholm” seen on a stand (Archive of Allinge-Sandvig byforening).

4. Tizlasletten

Tizlasletten is a meadow that was used as a pasture for Sandvig’s cattle. At times the meadow can be very wet earning it the older name Sumpen (The Swamp or The Bog). Later it was called Tizlasletten (The Thistle Plain) probably because there was an abundance of thistles. Early in the 1900’s sports and gymnastic clubs became common and Sandvig’s youths played soccer on Tizlasletten even though it must have been a very uneven football pitch. During the Soviet occupation 1945-46 barracks and field camps were located on the meadow a bit higher up and on the hill to the north you can still see trenches dug by the troops.


5. The Flag

The swallow-tailed flag on the rockface over Sandvig was painted during the German occupation (1940-45) as a silent protest. It is told that the flag was washed away by the Germans twice, but each time it was quickly painted up again so after the third time it was allowed to stay there. Who painted the flag is still a mystery. Who still to this day refreshes the paint every year is unknown as well. Maybe it’s the underground elves of Bornholm’s folklore.

Flaget. The painted Danish flag.

6. Kokleven

Kokleven is a steep rift valley that leads down to Sletten from the plateau of Tizlasletten. Here you can see glacial abrasion on bedrock that have been left largely untouched by quarrying. At the bottom of the small valley you can see relics of a smallholder’s quarry. It was probably a small family holding where father and son made a living by breaking slabs of granite loose from the rockface. Holes would be cut in a protruding piece of rock using a pick hammer. Then a dry wedge of beech wood was driven into the hole and then soaked with water. The next morning the wedge would have expanded and broken loose a piece of the rock. These rocks were probably mostly used for the socles of Sandvig’s houses.

The name Kokleven is from a time when Sandvig’s peasants herded the cattle up through the valley to Tizlasletten’s grazing grounds. Ko means cow in Danish and Klev is a local term used to describe a crevice or ravine.

Ancient bedrock in Kokleven.

Relics of a smallholder’s quarry at the bottom of Kokleven.

Quarry workers with pick hammers at Hammerknuden (Bornholms Museum).

Socle at Gottegade 11 in Sandvig.

7. Sletten

Between Langebjerg and Hammerknuden is a rift valley. Just after the last ice age this was a strait separating Hammeren from the rest of Bornholm. Today it’s a valley holding Bornholm’s largest lake; Hammersøen. Until the mid 1900’s the valley floor from the lake to Osandbugten was a barren, sandy plain that was simply called Sletten (The Plain). At that time there was an open view from Sandvig to the bedrock of Hammerknuden. The bedrock of Sletten is largely untouched by man and shows glacial abrasion. As part of establishing The Quarry Worker’s Footpath this side of Hammerknuden have been mostly cleared of trees and undergrowth to expose this ancient bedrock.

Sletten today.

View across Sletten from Sandvig around 1910-1920 (Bornholms Museum).

8. The quarry at Høje Meder

Above Hammersø’s northwestern shore a cliff rises to 69 meters above sea level. The highest point is called Høje Meder, a name that stems from maritime navigation, where med means a landmark used when taking a bearing. In former times Høje Meder was used in conjunction with the summit of Sæne Meder as landmarks, this was the most common method for navigating near the coast until lighthouses became common. Today much of the bedrock around Høje Meder is gone as a result of quarrying.

Large scaled quarrying of Hammerknuden started after Allinge-Sandvig municipality sold Hammeren to a German businessman in 1875. To start with the scope was modest but in 1884 the area was taken over by the German baron von Ohlendorff who founded the corporation Bornholms Granitværk in 1891 and constructed infrastructure suitable for large scale granite production. Buildings for administration and production as well as machines for processing the stones were constructed and the harbour Hammerhavn was built to ship the finished products and rails for carts was built to bring them to the docks.
The quarrying was mostly taking place in the cliffs above Hammersø and today you can still see the terraces created in the process. On old photos of the place what looks like a railway can be seen along Hammersø.

The granite was largely sold to Germany where cobble stones, setts and curbstones from Hammerknuden became streets and squares. Even large works such as the Kiel Canal used granite from Bornholm. The outbreak of World War I in 1914 stopped all export to Germany. The war was a hard blow to the quarry industry with subsequent closure in 1916. Work was stopped immediately and this is the reason why you can still see boulders that have been left behind in the quarry. After Bornholms Granitværk closed the Danish State bought the area supported by private funds collected by amongst others the conservation society Foreningen Bornholm who wanted to put a stop to quarrying and spare the landscape and nature of Hammerknuden. But this was not to be.

View from where Sandvig is today. In the background Høje Meder can be seen. The photo was taken before the quarrying started, so large parts of the rocks on the picture is gone today (Gottlieb Støckel/Bornholms Ø-arkiv).

The quarry at Høje Meder. The terraces can be seen clearly with Hammersøen in the foreground (Bornholms Museum).

This is how the same area looks today after enormous amounts of granite have been taken away and sold.

Høje Meder after the quarrying stopped. The swallow-tailed flag was hoisted after the Danish State took over Hammerknuden.

9. Høje Meder – lower terrace

When walking on The Quarry Worker’s Footpath from the plateau at Hammersø towards the first, lower terrace you ascend by a slope which was used for a cable railway when the quarry was still operating. A system of wires and brakes slowed down the cargo wagons and used the weight of the full wagons to pull empty wagons back up to the quarry.

On the photo you can see the cable railway that the footpath from Hammersø to the lower terrace is situated on today.

Double cable railway at the quarry around 1900. It was railways like this, that brought the granite down from the slopes (Bendt Kjøller/Bornholms Museum).

Two square boulders on the lower terrace. These have been used to anchor the cable railway’s braking device.

On the lower terrace, about 50 meters from the cable railway this circular shape can be seen on the rockface. It was probably created when the bedrock formed 1.4 billion years ago (Knud Aage Månsson).

10. Høje Meder – middle terrace

When you go up the steps from the lower terrace to the middle terrace, you climb up an even steeper slope than the one leading to the lower terrace. The slope was built for another cable railway and when you reach the middle terrace you can see square rocks used for anchorage as well as remains of cable attachments on the rockface.

The steps between the lower and middle terrace are situated on the remains of yet another cable railway.

The middle terrace.

11. Høje Meder – the third terrace

From the steps between the middle terrace and the third terrace at the top of Høje Meder, you can look down on Humledalshusene, also known as Humlehodda, a small row of houses built for housing quarry workers and their families. There was a quarry’s smithy adjacent to the houses. Visit for more info. From the top of Høje Meder there is an impressive panoramic view over Sandvig, Langebjerg, Hammersholm and the castle ruins of Hammershus. If you look closely you can still see cable attachments in the bedrock if you look closely. These were used to anchor the flagpole flying the Danish state flag after the Danish State took over Hammerknuden. From the summit at Høje Meder the footpath leads via the small lake Gamledam down to the green lake Opalsøen.

Humledalshusene while the quarry at Høje Meder was in operation.

The small lake Gamledam as it looked before trees grew and surrounded it.

12. The quarry at Opalsøen

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 hit the communities in Northern Bornholm hard. The quarry workers lost their jobs from one day to another when the quarry closed in 1916 and the tourist trade was severely afflicted because the flow of German tourists stopped. Social consequences were dire and many had to move away due to the lack of jobs. From 1911 to 1921 the number of people living on Northern Bornholm diminished to two thirds of the former level. The severe unemployment prompted the Danish State to approve renewed quarrying on Hammerknuden in 1919. The concession went to the corporation Møller & Handberg who started operations in the area southwest of Høje Meder. Møller & Handberg modernized the quarry: Rail carts were replaced by conveyor belts and as road construction changed from cobbles to asphalt the production of cobblestones changed to stone chippings which were used as base for the paving. By 1928 a new stone chipping factory was finished and in 1930 a new loading dock was built at Hammerhavn. Five hundred tons of crushed stone were produced daily on what was now one of Europe’s most modern crushing works. Stone chippings were the primary product for the rest of the quarry’s existence.

However there were still many who wanted an end to the quarrying, and after a failed attempt at conservation in 1958 Hammerknuden was finally listed for preservation in 1967. The quarry concession was still maintained in a confined area but according to the conservation declaration it could not be renewed if operations ceased. After this only a few years went by before the quarry industry on Hammerknuden came to an end. In 1971, partly due to foreign competition, the quarry was closed, partly because of foreign competition. During the 1970’s the old industrial buildings was removed and draining of the quarry stopped, creating the lake Opalsøen (Opal Lake) at the bottom of the old quarry.

Today the area around Opalsøen is used for outdoor activities. The steep cliffs are used for rappelling and climbing, a 290 meters long ropeway leads into the lake and bathing is allowed. The cliffs are populated by herring gulls and in the spring, it is possible to get a close-up view of their large, grey chicks.

The quarry at what is now the lake Opalsøen (Bornholms Museum).

The quarry in 1956 (Sylvest Jensen Luftfoto/Det Kongelige Bibliotek).

Opalsøen today seen from the top of the abandoned quarry.

13. Hammerhavn

The harbor Hammerhavn, also known as Sænehavn is situated in the Sæne BaySæne is an old local word for sand or sandy beach. Like Osandbugten at Sandvig the bay is a natural harbour and has been used as such back to prehistoric times. In the middle ages it was the landing site for ships going to and from Hammershus but it was only after von Ohlendorffs acquisition of Hammerknuden that a real harbour was built in Sæne Bay. Until then rocks from the quarries was shipped from the harbour at Allinge, but von Ohlendorff wanted a better infrastructure and built Hammerhavn in 1891-1892. While the quarry was active Hammerhavn was a busy industrial harbour with industrial buildings. The remains of these buildings can still be seen on the slopes north of the harbour. These days Hammerhavn is mostly used mainly for pleasure crafts, tour boats and the pilot boat. In 2012 the harbour was renovated including new wooden buildings for sports clubs, kiosk and service functions. In one of them you can find a small exhibition about the history of the quarries.

Hammerhavn with factory buildings and cobble stones ready for shipping.

Hammerhavn in 2017.

Cobble stones are loaded onto a ship at Hammerhavn. Hammershus castle ruins can be seen in the background (Bornholms Museum).

14. Hammersø and the spring

When you follow The Quarry Worker’s Footpath north along the eastern shore of the lake Hammersøen you pass a small spring on the right at the edge of the forested area Sjøljerne. It is told that the quarrymen used to take their drinking water from here. Hammersøen is Bornholm’s largest lake with a surface area of about 10 hectares and a depth up to 13 meters. The lake is situated eight meters over sea level and is often called Denmark’s only mountain lake. From the eastern shore you have a spectacular view to Hammerknuden’s bedrock as well as Høje Meder’s old quarry, where the three terraces can be clearly seen.

The spring at Sjøljerne (Torben Christensen).

The famous Danish painter Holger Drachmann’s painting of Hammersøen from 1870. This was before the quarrying started. The original painting can be seen at the art museum Bornholms Kunstmuseum.

A contemporary photo taken from the same angle as Drachmann’s painting. As you can see the large cliffs to the right in the picture are markedly reduced from the quarrying.

15 – Housing for quarry workers

In Sandvig the path passes by two rows of houses: Langelinie on Hammershusvej (20 houses) and Sandlinien at Osandbugten (12 houses). These were built around 1900 by Bornholms Granitværk as homes for the quarry workers and their families. They were built in an English style, and were very small after today’s standards, around 35 square meters for an entire family. The ground floor had a living room, chamber, kitchen and small hall. On the first floor there was a second chamber that the families often rented out for an extra income. The privy was in the backyard. If a quarryman became unfit for work, or if there wasn’t enough work for him, the entire family had to vacate the house.

Today most of the houses have been connected two and two so that the accommodation is double the original size. At the western gable of Langelinie is an audioguide with stories about life in the houses in 1930 told by one of Sandvig’s older citizens. You can see a model of one of the houses at the quarry museum at Moseløkken. Visit the quarry museum’s webpage.

Worker’s families at their living-quarters.

The houses at Sandlinien. You pass them just before the path returns to its starting point at Osandbugten.

16. Hammersøbækken

After Langelinie the path goes left to Hammersøbækken, a small brook that leads the water from Hammersø over Sletten to Osandbugten. Most of the brook now runs in a ditch. Older citizens of Sandvig remember that when the first soldiers of the Soviet occupation arrived at Sandvig by train in 1945, they marched down to Sletten to wash in the brook. One citizen recalls that they were soldiers from eastern Russia and had Asian features; “looking happy but visibly marked by the horrors of the eastern front and very dirty,” one citizen remembers.

On the path along the brook you pass Ellas Konditori (Ella’s Coffee- and tearooms) on the right. The tall building once housed the soft drink factory Mineralvandsfabriken “Bornholm” where they made soda with the radioactive water from Radiumkilden.

Soviet troops at the train station in Sandvig, May 9 1945 (Archive of the resistance movement/Allinge-Sandvig byforenings arkiv).

Hammersøbækken about 1900 (Bendt Kjøller/