Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. Møn

Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. Møn

Article excerpt

The sky over the island of Møn, which is at the bottom right of Denmark, was cobalt and the whitewashed walls of the Elmelunde church dazzled in the bright sunshine and hurt our eyes. Our arrival had been preceded by an argument about visiting the church at all, some of the party being of the opinion that they had seen enough medieval churches already during the four-week trek across northern Europe.

Nevertheless, culture won the day and in we filed to glory in the frescoes of the Elmelunde Master, who some time during the 15th century devoted himself to the decoration of this church. The frescoes are spare and sinuous, bleached in hue and basic in execution. They snake all over the ceiling and are quite marvellous; evocative of a time of peasants and knights, demons and fantastical creatures; a time of belief and of fear. In one vaulted section a baby is being run through by a knight's sword. Our receptive three-year-old was evidently absorbed and moved by this appalling scene. 'Was the baby naughty?' he asked. He has since done battle with this baby-stabbing knight on many occasions: a victory, of sorts, for culture.

Perhaps there are worse images from Denmark that could have fixed themselves in the infant mind. He might, for instance, have brought home memories of the evening spent in a campsite on the west coast, near Ribe. This was a niche campsite, dedicated to fishing, though we didn't know that until we got there. Everyone else had come to fish the stocked ponds around the site, including the two women who lured trout late into the evening from the bank beside our tent pitch, bizarrely attired in silky negligee-gown combos and fishnet tights. …

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