Denmark’s destructive ‘Sahara’
So it’s a surprise to discover a sand dune the size of a small desert roaming around the countryside unchecked, destroying farmhouses, churches, roads and anything else that gets in its way.
Covering an area of 1.5 square kilometers and containing 3.5 million cubic meters of sand, Raabjerg Mile is the largest migratory dune in northern Europe.
“Every time I come up here it is different. It is a fascinating landscape,” says local guide Jakob Nielsen, pointing at the streaks of sand and clay in the cliff face. Most of the erosion is caused by winter storms, which wash away the clay and loosen the sand, uncovering an archaeological cross-section of human history.
Abandoned villages – By then Denmark had been plagued for centuries by sand drifts that destroyed farmlands, buried buildings and forced villages to be abandoned.
In the 19th century, the government finally took steps to tame the dunes, planting millions of trees and shrubs to check their movement. But Raabjerg Mile was left to roam as an active reminder of how the landscape had been.