From child to outlaw..

Jens’ childhood.
Jens Langkniv (Longknife) was born on the moor south of Daugbjerg. He did not know his father and lived with his mother as a child. Jens became a larger than average  person and very strong. He lived by working in the mines, even as a small child. Supporting his mum by hunting in the woods, which for common people was not allowed.

Jens soon became famous for carring a long knife and this was then to become his adopted name Jens Langkniv (Longknife). As time progressed his skills with the knife went before him.
The knife was attached to a long cord made from platted horsetail hair – this enabled him to retrive the knife quickly after he had thrown it while hunting. This made for quiet and efficient hunting.

Jens get caught.
Eventually Jens was discovered, arrested and taken to Rosborg castle. Here he was clapped in irons, humiliated and molested. Being so strong and fearless, he broke loose from his chains and fled during the night. This was the start of his career in crime.

Escapes and goes to a party.
As Jens fled from Rosborg he stumbled upon a party around the limestone oven in the village og Daugbjerg belonging to the vicar  A lot of lime was wating to be processed in the oven.
The vicars wife was pooring out snapps for the party guests. She was a lovely young redheaded woman, by the name of Claudine – her husband, the vicar, was a grumpy old man, he was not at the party but at home, working on his next sermon.

After several snapps Jens then asked Claudine “Shall we dance the night away?“ Claudine a woman not to say no to such an offer. quickly fell under his charm. This was a new experience for her after being married to the grumpy old man.
They were together all night and it was reported that they did not dance the night away!

Jens and Laura.
Jens allready had a girlfriend Laura. She was the daughter of Mikkel Vistisen schoolmaster in Sønder Resen.

Laura was a shepherd on the moor during the day and in the evening she was a waitress at the inn of Sejbæk. Jens being constly on the move, often payed her a visit during daytime on the moor….

Laura’s dad did of course not approve with his daughters boyfriend and he wanted the relationship to stop. So he planned to  conspire with the local sheriff. His plan was to catch Jens’s old mother, Woldborg, and get her convicted as a witch to be burned at the stake.

Jens becomes an outlaw.
One evening Jens was on his way to visit Laura, while she was working at the inn. Just outside in the yard he saw a cart. Tied to it was an old woman…. his mother!
Jens quickly untied his mother and she told him, that she was under arrest for being a witch and was to be burned at the stake in Viborg.
Of course Jens became angry to hear this and he went directly into the inn and planted his long knife in the chest of the sheriff!

Now Jens became an outlaw and he escaped into the moor.

For the next 22 years he lived in the limestone mines of Daugbjerg during the winter and on the moor during the summer.
The new sheriff and his men tried several times to catch him, but Jens knew the mines like the back of his hand and he could escape time after time…..

– The lad from the moor had now become the outlaw legend Jens Langkniv (Longknife).

Jens and Christian..

Jens was always on the run and at one stage he fled into a bog. where he found a little dry spot, where he build a small cabin. Here he lived in peace during the summer, as no one dared to attempt to find their way through the bog.
One very  late afternoon Jens heard a shot nearby and he went out to see who was firing.

After a short while Jens discovered a very noble man elegantly dressed on a beautiful horse.

Jens helps the king.
“Who are you, daring to shoot on my land”, said an angry Jens.
“I am your King, Christian the 4th! Who are you?” said the stranger.
“I am Jens Langkniv”, said Jens
“Ah, you are the infamous outlaw, the man with the long knife. I can kill you in the name of god”, said the King.
“Yes, you can”, said Jens” but you cant find your way out of this bog…..”.

After several attempts the King, could not find a way out of the bog. Every way he turned, ther was nothing but endless mud and deep water and his horse was getting very tired.

“I can help you out of here at a price! The price will be a pardon for my mother, who is accused of being a witch and pardon for myself”, said Jens. The King agreed.
Jens then  promised to help the King fight his enemies, who was threatening Denmark from the south.

Jens is back in buisness.
Never the less Jens continued his outlaw life, after participating as a soilder, in the 30-year war.

Jens shared his booty with the local peasants and mineworkers. They did not give him away to the sheriff. Jens became a kind of Robin Hood. He robbed the rich and shared with the poor.

The sheriff finds Jens…

After a turbulent life  as an outlaw, Jens met his destany at the vicarage of Vridsted.
That autumn the young sheriff Niels Munk, got a new hunting dog and together with a couple of soldiers, desided to end his game with Jens.
Of course Jens knew of the sheriff’s new hunting dog and he knew of the sheriff´s plan.
It was no surprise to Jens, while crossing the moor one day, he saw a small group of soldiers near Vridsted.

Jens then ran as fast as he could to the vicarage in Vridsted, to see his old friend, the vicar Niels Christensen Paaske.

”Hello Jens! How is everything?”The vicar said.
“Today it is either life or death”, Jens said and knodded his head towards the farm yard. ”The sheriff has found me and he is riding fast to catch me!”

”Do you want me to hide you?”, The vicar asked.
Jens answered: ”No but thank you, you have done a lot for me. I have been hiding for so long, – I would like to confess my sins.”
The vicar Paaske put on his robe and started to prepare the confession. In the meanwile the sheriff enters the house with his soldiers and their guns are loaded ready to fire.
When the sheriff came face to face with Jens and the vicar, he said cheekily:
” Please take all day about this confession.”

The vicar then gave Jens bread and wine and placed his hand on Jens’s head and said:” now you have setteld with God, Jens Langkniv.”

Jens’s death.
Well, come and take me!”, Jens shouted to the sheriff and his soldiers,as he threw his long knife with all of his strenght into the doorframe, above the sheriff’s head. Three bullits were fired and Jens was dead….
The sheriff wanted the knife as a sourvenir, but the knife was stuck so hard into the doorframe, that he had to give up.
The knife stayed in the doorframe for the next 200 years until the vicarage burned down.

Jens’s final resting place.
As an outlaw Jens Langkniv could not be buried in the local churchyard, instead he was buried outside the northern boundary of the churchyard. This has never been confirmed but many years later, when the churchyard was expanded, remains were found of a large person. Could this have been Jens Langkniv!

These remains were then buried inside the boundary of the churchyard. This then allowed for one of the most famous/notorious charactors who lived during the dark middle ages to finally find peace…

The secret signs.

Outlaws and gypsies used their own language so their communications between each other would not be discovered by others.
By a method of signs and pictures which were carved in trees, beams and bricks of buildings, or piles of rocks and stones. Even on paper!

These messages were to advise as to the possible danger of mad dogs, or viscious farmers. It also extended to advising if any house in the area was friendly or not. Or indeed if there was safe shelter for the night possibly offering food or even money!

Our secret sign.

If you look at the logo for Daugbjerg Kalkgruber this is the ancient sign for limestone and we just added Jens’ knife.

In the visitors centre you can see a display showing examples of the many signs.