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The Parforce Hunting landscape in North Zealand

Date of Submission: 08/01/2010
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(v)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Heritage Agency of Denmark
Coordinates: N55 47 42 E12 34 17
Ref.: 5476
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Description

The parforce hunting landscape in North Zealand is an outstanding European cultural landscape that clearly illustrates the 500-year history of a kingdom and its planning and management of the natural environment in accordance with the changing currents of European history. The evidence of the changing access to nature and its resources in one of the most densely populated areas of Europe has been uniquely conserved in these forests that went from being natural countryside to royal hunting landscape and ended as a cultural landscape with its many natural amenities that are open to the public. The landscape embodies the history of the monopolisation and democratisation of access to nature.

The landscape includes the state-run forests in North Zealand that were designated as parforce hunting grounds in the second half of the 17th century: Grib Skov, Store Dyrehave, Geelskov, Harreskovene, Jægersborg Hegn and Jægersborg Deer Park with the Eremitage Hunting Lodge. An area of 9,700 hectares in total. The forests make up the core of the original North Zealand Crown land, and they are surrounded by a number of royal castles, namely the Jægersborg Palace Hunting Lodge, Frederiksborg Castle with the Bath House, and Fredensborg Palace. Most of the area, including the castles, is state-owned, listed and/or protected under the Danish Protection of Nature Act and/or part of the planned Kings' North Zealand National Park.

The basis for the development of the unique cultural landscape in North Zealand is the combination of its proximity to the Danish capital and its special geology and topography. The undulating moraine landscape was mainly created by a number of ice advances at the end of the Weichsel Ice Age around 25,000-18,000 years ago when huge amounts of stagnant ice created the many hills, hollows and lakes. While preventing cultivation to some extent, these areas offered good opportunities for forest stands and wildlife.

The forests abounded in game and were attractive for the Renaissance kings, for whom hunting was an important symbol of power. Consequently, the landscape achieved its basic structure after the Reformation in 1536 when the area became Crown land with royal roads, castles, hunting lanes and hunting lodges. North Zealand now constituted the royal game preserves and was subject to controlled game management. It was a cultural landscape of power typical of its time in Europe, and it attained its ultimate character when at the end of the 17th century the absolute monarch, Christian V, laid it out for French-style parforce hunting for red deer and divided the forests into sections by straight hunting lanes meeting in star-shaped crossings. In 1670 the Jægersborg Deer Park was fenced in, and the king built a pavilion where he hosted lunches for his hunting parties. This was replaced by the Eremitage Hunting Lodge in 1736, which is to this day used to host lunches for royal hunting parties in the Deer Park. Jægersborg Palace south of the Deer Park became the king's main hunting lodge.

Before the Age of Enlightenment, Danish forests had been considered an unlimited resource, but in Denmark, as was the case in the rest of Europe, the king now needed to cultivate the forests to ensure his access to large timber. In the 1760s, organised forest management along German lines was introduced in the royal forests, and from 1781, production of timber in the royal forests took precedence over hunting. All domestic animals were banished, the forests were fenced in by stone walls and cultivated as forest only, and from 1799 all large deer were systematically exterminated. On the other hand, almost all forest areas outside the walls were cleared, and there was a sharp line between forests and fields. Legislation has effectively protected the North Zealand forests against accelerating urbanisation, and as a result the cultural landscape still clearly illustrates the changes in the use of the forests and their resources from around 1800.

With the introduction of constitutional monarchy in 1849, the king's forests became state-owned, but the Crown retained its hunting rights. In the Jægersborg Deer Park the Zealand, red deer strain survived total extermination, so the decision to re-introduce red deer into the forests in the late 19th century was implemented from here. Around 1740, Denmark's oldest public amusement park - now known as Bakken - was established on the site of the market festival in the Deer Park.

Frederiksborg Castle burned down in 1859. This was seen as a catastrophe for Denmark, and substantial funds to pay for its reconstruction were raised by public subscription. The largest contribution was made by brewer I.C. Jacobsen on condition that the castle be made a museum of national history. Thus, the reconstructed Frederiksborg Castle is an impressive monument to the National Romantic ideals and to the social importance of incipient industrialism.

In the late 19th century, industrialism caused explosive growth in Copenhagen and gave rise to new ideals. The inhabitants of the capital now headed for the North Zealand forests for health reasons and began to show an interest in the nature of the forests. Critical voices were raised against intensive forestry practices, and over the century forest management shifted focus from production to recreation and nature protection. The old royal forests now offer many public amenities, visitors may go where they please and even collect mushrooms for their own consumption, but the royal family still have the hunting rights. Today, global competition has made forestry in North-West Europe unprofitable, and the forests now constitute the core of a future national park. In this way the landscape once again reflects contemporary ideals and society's dependence on natural resources.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The cultural development over more than 500 years reflected in the North Zealand state-run forests is strongly influenced by European trends, but the landscape is unique in that it not only illustrates the ideals of the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment. Its planning and monuments also tell the story of the peaceful development of a European monarchy, based on the ideals of Romanticism and National Romanticism in particular, and its adjustment to the ideals of the time of the Modern Breakthrough and even post-modern society. The forests and the castles represent an outstanding cultural landscape showing that for centuries Denmark has been a cultural bridge between Central Europe and Scandinavia.

It is therefore proposed that the North Zealand parforce hunting landscape be inscribed on the Tentative List as a cultural landscape that is representative in terms of the European region and illustrates an essential and distinct cultural element, namely a distinct royal hunting and forest landscape characterised by 500 years' consecutive management and planning history.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The historical development and use of the cultural landscape as illustrated by roads, stone walls, castles, etc. are massively documented by historical sources such as royal books of letters, the Danish Vetruvius, the Danish Cadastre of 1688, design maps for systems of hunting lanes and royal roads, letters from masters of the royal hunt and chief forestry supervisors, maps used for forest reforms, land redistribution maps and forest maps and working plans. It is therefore clear that the area proposed for inscription on the World Heritage List meets the requirement for authenticity.

Furthermore, the area contains all the elements required to express its outstanding universal value: A large continuous landscape with fenced-in forests where royal hunting rights still limit other forms of hunting without restricting public access, an unusually well-developed and well-preserved system of parforce hunting lanes and castles of which several are still used for their original purposes while one has become a National Romantic monument.

The area is of a sufficient size to fully represent its characteristics and outstanding value, but despite its management history it is threatened by urbanisation and possibly by nature restoration concepts and re-introductions in connection with the establishment of a national park.

The authenticity of the North Zealand parforce hunting landscape as the core of the outstanding cultural landscape is further highlighted by the castles surrounding it. The largest one, Frederiksborg Castle, served as the basis for the consolidation of the Crown lands in North Zealand after 1560, and it was the royal residence and the centre of the 16th century royal hunting parties that lasted several days and made use of a number of royal hunting lodges in that part of the country. Part of the castle burned down in 1859. Its reconstruction was financed by private means in accordance with the National Romantic ideals of the time, and it now stands as a monument to its own time. The small Renaissance-style Bath House in the park remains fully intact and is a testimony to the importance of hunting to the consolidation of Crown lands. In 1722 Fredensborg Palace, the current royal residence, replaced one of the 16th century hunting lodges east of Lake Esrum. Jægersborg Palace, which was the main royal hunting lodge from 1670, was torn down in 1761, but the listed buildings from the 1730s are intact. The castle and palaces provide a monumental setting for the parforce hunting landscape, emphasising its importance for the country and its unique history.

Comparison with other similar properties

The North Zealand parforce hunting landscape has some features in common with the forests surrounding Chambord in the Loire Valley in France. The star-shaped systems of hunting lanes in the Valley served as a model for the Danish ones. The criteria for the inscription of the Valley is its architecture (i) and cultural landscape (iv), the many cultural monuments of which, including the Chateau, illustrate to an exceptional degree the ideals of the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment. The same applies to the North Zealand parforce hunting landscape, but because this forest landscape was originally modelled on the French landscape it also documents that the common dissemination and impact of the European ideals from the Renaissance to the Age of Enlightenment were deeply rooted in the strong absolute monarchies of North-West Europe.

Unlike the French landscape the North Zealand cultural landscape also illustrates the ideals of the subsequent epochs. The Danish absolute monarchy was not abolished by a revolution, but by peaceful reforms introducing constitutional monarchy in 1849. This meant that many royal traditions were preserved, including the king's right to hunt in the forests that were in effect no longer Crown property. In Denmark hunting therefore retained its traditional role as an important and recognised form of social expression.

Free public access to the former royal forests in North Zealand, including the central Jægersborg Deer Park, is combined in a unique way with the continued exercise of century-old royal hunting privileges. In this way the North Zealand parforce hunting landscape differs from other comparable landscapes such as the closed park surrounding Chambord and is an exceptional monument to the clash between the old Central-European feudalistic ideals and rights and the Scandinavian democratic ideals of the right of public access to nature.