A 5,000-year-old fish fence
The fish fence continues on the other side
of the sheet-piled 4 x 4 m box, and it will be interesting to
follow its continued course during the excavations in
During the preliminary explorations, archaeologists from Museum
Lolland-Falster found an approximately 5,000-year-old fish fence.
Due to the incredibly good preservation conditions of the site, the
impression was almost like that of a place that had only just been
The preliminary exploration took place in sheet-piled boxes
measuring 4 x 4 metres, and it therefore only provided an insight
into what was found within the four walls of each box. Even so, it
quickly became clear that an amazing find had been made.
The fish fence consists of sharpened, scorched sticks, mainly
made from ash wood, which had been hammered vertically into the
bottom of the lagoon. In between these sticks, which would have had
a diameter of about 5 cm, are thinner branches placed horizontally
on top of each other, thus forming a dense fence. In contrast to
earlier finds of fish fences, these branches do not appear to have
been woven around the ash sticks. Instead, it looks as if the
horizontal sticks have been placed between two upright sticks
standing close, directly opposite each other.
The museum hopes to learn more about the fish fence in
connection with the ongoing excavations.
Ancient fish fences
Most often, the fish fences would consist of sharpened and
scorched hazel stakes, in between which willow twigs, for instance,
were intertwined. Together, they formed a dense fence, which not
even eels could get through. Archaeological finds of fish fences
show that they can be very long. By the island of Nekselø, for
instance, it has been possible to follow a fish fence more than 200
metres out into the Great Belt.
Depending on the fish fence's position in relation to the
coastline, it would have been used in two different ways: If the
fence was placed in parallel to the coastline, it served as a kind
of tidewater trap. At high tide, the fence was flooded by the sea,
and fish could swim unhindered into shallower waters. But at low
tide, they would not be able to swim back to the sea. This meant
that they were trapped in large shoals behind the fence, and they
could easily be 'shovelled up' by means of woven baskets or
Other fish fences, such as the fish fence from Rødbyhavn, would
have stood at a right angle to the coastline. This type served the
same function as present-day fixed gillnets. This type led the fish
along the fence and out into deeper waters, often through further
fenced-off areas or traps, after which they would be gathered in
so-called eelpots - a sort of wickerwork basket in which the fish
would get trapped.
This form of fishery was used throughout most of antiquity and
right up until around the 1900s, where the fence and the traps
were, however, made of tarred nets rather than wickerwork. The
eelpots, which were used for gathering the fish were made of
intertwined branches and wicker up into historic times.