Smyt Med de Byle! / Throw the Axe!

Sassisk

Meyr as en jår haer gav et en blogpost van myn hand um rysen, dee höyvels in et landskop makeden. Eyrlyks, ik har my dår ouk en mål um publiceard in et tydskrivt Vertelcultuur in tydstyden haer. Mor good, in dee blogpost har ik my mor de hälvt van et geskicht daalgeaven. Dee twey vortellingen, dår ik dowdestyds um etåld heb, eyn uut Nedderland en eyn uut Düütskland (en ouk stuv by enkander), gån sülv noch en end weader. Neet allennig maakt rysen höyvels in et landskop, nee, see doon wårlik heyl wat meyr ouk. Låten wy eyns kyken når how as disse vortelling weader vorlouped in Roelof syn wark Verhalen oet Gramsbargen:

“Iederiene was bange veur de reuzen! As ze een feest hadden, dan gonk t’r hèèr! De grond in Grambargen dreunden d’r van! Zie maken zo völle lawaai! En zie brulden zo! Mar ’t mut -ezegd wörden, a’j ze niks in de weg leen’ ha’j d’r aanders niet zo völle last van! …

“Elk en iene was bange, behalve driesten Gèèrt; den was nárgens bange veur! Gèèrt was ok jager, en toen ze een keer in ’n Westeresch an ’t jagen waren, en ze even schoft heulen, zee iene van de jagers: “I’j zegt now wal da’j niet bange bint Gèèrt, mar i’j dörft den reus niet oet te dagen!”

“Gèèrt den sprunk in de biene en reup: “Komp der mar is oet Archibald a’j dörft, ik bin niet bange veur ow! Kom mar op as i’j dörft!”.

“En het begunn’ mi’j toch te boezen en te wei’jen, te stormen en te luchten; het zaand steuf in de heugte! Den reus begunn’ te brullen! Heuren en zien vergunk ow!

“En Gèèrt d’r tussen oet! Hie leup zo hard asse kon! Hie wonn’ in Loozen. Halfweg klepper’n hum de klompe al van de voete, en hie gonk hozenvölke vèèrder!

“Gèèrt vuul’n den hieten oadem van den reus al in zien nakke. Het stof krull’n an weerskaanten van hum in ’t ronde; dat kwaamp van den oasem oet de neuze van dan reus!

“In de vèèrte konnen de baanzedeure van zien hoes al zien. Hie zetten van ní’jsen nog is weer goed of, greep de klinke van de achterdeure, en spruúnk ner binnen!

“Nét op tied! Want doar soezen de biele van de reus al dunderend, gierend en fluitend deur de locht, en sleug met een knetterend en krakend geluud in de baanzedeure! Mar de ofwèèrtekens warken goed! Archibald mos boeten blieven! Hie kon d’r niet in kommen!

“Toen as ze zeker wussen, dat de reus weg was, dossen ze hen kieken te goan! D’r leup een zwatten streep over ’n stielder van de baanzedeure van boven tot onderen an toe! Mar de biele van den reus hebt ze nooit können vinden!”

H. Roelofs, Verhalen oet Gramsbargen (1994), s. 14-15

English

More than a year ago, I wrote a blog post about giants who create hills in the landscape. Honestly, I have published about that before in the magazine Vertelcultuur a long time ago. But yeah, in that blog post I only told about half the story. These two stories which I wrote about at that time, one from the Netherlands and one from Germany (and even quite near each other) are even longer than presented then. Not only are the giants responsible for the hills in the landscape, no, they do quite a lot more. Let us take a gander at how this story continues in Roelof’s booklet Verhalen oet Gramsbargen:

“Everyone was afraid of the giants! When they had a party, it was wild! The ground in Gramsbergen would shake! They made so much noise! And they roar so loudly! But it has to be said: if you didn’t get in their way, then they wouldn’t bother you! …

“Everybody was afraid, except brave Geert, he wasn’t afraid of nothing! Geert was also a hunter, and when he was hunting with his troop in the Westeresch, and they were stopping for a break, one of the hunters said: “You might be saying that you’re not scared, Geert, but you wouldn’t dare to challenge the giant!

“Geert then arose and called out: “Come out then, Archibald, if you dare! I’m not afraid of you! Come out if you dare!”

“And it started to roar and pour, to storm and howl. The sand stove off the earth! The giant started to bawl! Sight and senses left you!

“And Geert slipped away! He ran as hard as he could! He lived in Loozen. Halfway there he lost his wooden shoes, and he continued forward on socks!

“Geert felt the hot breath of the giant on his neck. The dust was spiralling upwards next to him because of the breath from the giant’s nose!

“He could see the barn door of his house in the distance. He stepped up his pace, grabbed onto the door handle of the back door, and jumped inside!

“Just in time! Because the axe of the giant came thundering, roaring, and screeching through the air, and hit the barn door with a crackling and groaning sound! But the repelling signs worked well! Archibald had to stay outside, and he couldn’t enter!

“Then, once they were sure that the giant was gone, they dared to take a look! A black line stretched across the […], all the way from the top to the bottom! But the giant’s axe was never found or seen again!”

H. Roelofs, Verhalen oet Gramsbargen (1994), p. 14-15
En stypelteaken uut Tilligte, Nedderland / A stypelteaken from Tilligte, the Netherlands (born/source: Wikimedia Commons)

Oaver de grüppe givt en en andre versioon van disse vortelling. Skane up et hougdüütsk, mor glüklik med eynige sassiske satsen der döärchhenne:

“Immer noch drückte sie die Furcht vor dem Riesen Hunold. “An heißen Tagen”, sagten sie, “liegt er unterhalb der Neegenbarge in einem kleinen Gebüsch. Hier bei der Hünenpütte ist’s kühl, da stillt er den großen Durst, seitdem die Menschen keinen Met mehr für ihn brauen. Er verschläft oft die heißen Tagesstunden und streckt im Farnkraut die schweren Glieder aus. Dann gefällt’s ihm oben auf der Erde besser als unten in der Erdhöhle.” Wehe, wenn ihn da ein Mensch im Schlaf störte!

“Nur Egberinks Arndt aus Hardingen lachte über die alten Geschichten und meinte: “Ik bin för de Düvel nich bange en för Hunold gåh ick nicht loopen!” …

“In dem Augenblick bellte Wode, Arndts großer Rüde. Er stand vor der Hünenpütte, und sein Fell sträubte sich. Frerk meinte, er sei da an einen Tunegel geraten; aber Arndt wollte davon nichts wissen. Er rief dem Hunde zu: “Pack em, Wode! Un aß’t Hunold is, pack em!”

Die anderen warnten ihn: “Targ em nich, Arndt, et mog ernst wodden!”

“Was! Egberink Arndt sich fürchten vor Hunold!” … Er prahlte laut los, indem er auf den Busch zulief. Nun stand er auf dem Roggenacker, hißte den Hund auf das Dickicht und rief:

“Wode, pack em, wies dien Tanne!

Hunold, rut ut Eek en Danne!

Arndt steht met sien Rü’n hier!

Hunold, wåg’t, du Ungedier!”

“Und da knackten die Zweige, und es fauchte und schnaufte, daß die Elstern scheltend davonstoben. Da brüllte eine Stimme aus dem Dickicht:

“Ick kumm!

De Äckse krapp ick ut de Grund,

Dann wahr’ di, Arndt, dann wahr’ die, Hund!

Ick bin nich Menß’, ick bin ginn Dier,

Ick bin een gläunig Ungedier!”

“Als Arndt die Stimme hörte, ward sein spottender Mund doch stumm. “Wode”, wollte er rufen, “Wode, kumm!”, aber er kam nicht so weite. Hunold stürzte mit einem Satz aus dem Busch, drohend schwang er die Hünenaxt, so daß das Kuhfell zurückschlug und die behaarte Brust sichtbar wurde.

“Aber Arndt sah sie nicht mehr. So ist er sein Lebtag noch nicht gelaufen. Seine Jagdgesellen auf der Höhe sahen hier ein Bein und da ein Bein, das kaum den Boden berührte. Da rannten drei um die Wette, zwei ums Leben, nun war Wode voran, nun Arndt. Der brüllende Riese hinterher – “een gläunig Ungedier”. Wie blitzte die blanke Axt in seiner Hand! Er kam näher und näher, das Kuhfell flatterte im Winde. Wie er bölkte: “Hui, ho! Arndt up de Falken, de Düvel sall di packen!”

“Da graute es doch seinen treuen Kameraden, und die Not war groß in ihnen, weil sie ihm nicht helfen konnten. Erreichte er sein Haus, so war er gerettet. Vor dem Donnerbesen neben der großen Dielentür fürchten sich Teufel, Riesen und Unholde. Da, Hunold wollte schon zugreifen – mit einem Satz setzte Arndt über das Hofhecke – der Riese rannte blindlings dagegen an, er kam ins Stolpern. Ja, richtig, Arndt entkam ihm. Der Riese in seiner Wut warf ihm die Axt nach. Sie traf ihn nicht, sie fuhr in den Seitenpfosten. Die große Tür schlug zu, Arndt war gerettet, ja, er war ihm entlaufen.

“Hui, ho!” hörten sie ihn noch einmal schreien. Er suchte nach der Axt, da er aber den Donnerbesen an der Hauswand sah, prallte er zurück. Die Axt ließ er fahren. Drohend schüttelte er die Faust und nahm dann den Weg nach der Hünenbecke in Höcklenkamp. “He sall sick dor wall ofkühlen willen”, meinte Hasso.

“Als es Abend wurde, wagten sie es, Egberinks Hof aufzusuchen. Aber die Türen blieben verrammelt, kein Lebewesen ließ sich sehen. Der Pfosten war von der Axt gespalten und verkohlt, so hatte Hunold geworfen. Die Axt hat keiner gefunden.

“Andern Tags schickte Frau Egberink Nachricht, ihr Mann liege krank zu Bett. Als seine Freunde zu ihm kamen, sagte er: “Dat was eenmål. Wi låt Hunold in Free. Wi willt d’r nich es mehr van pråten. Dor geevet mi de Hand up!””

Heinrich Specht, Die Gläserne Kutsche, 3. uplåge (1967), s. 33-35

Across the border, a different version of this story is found. Unfortunately, it is written in High German, but there are a couple of Saxon phrases found throughout it:

“Still people were afraid about the giant Hunold. “On hot days,” people would tell, “he lies down underneath the Neegenbarge, hidden in a small bush. Here, at the the Hun’s Well it is cool, and there he clenches his gigantic thirst, ever since people stopped brewing mead for him. He often spends the hot days sleeping, stretching his heavy limbs in the ferns. At those times it is just so much more pleasant above ground than down in his earthen hole.” Woe, when someone disturbs him in his slumber!

“Only Arndt of Egberink from Hardingen laughed about the old tale and said: “I am not even afraid of the Devil, and I won’t run away for Hunold!” …

“At that moment Wode, Arndt’s big dog, barked. He stood in front of the Hun’s Well, and his hairs stood on its ends. Frerk thought that he encountered a hedgehog. But Arndt wouldn’t hear any of that. He called out to his dog: “Get him, Wode! And if it’s Hunold, get him!”

“The others warned him: “Don’t provoke him, Arndt, it could turn ugly!”

“What?! Arndt of Egberink is afraid of Hunold?!” … he bragged as he walked to the bush. Now he stood at the edge of the rye field, lifted the dog out from the shrubbery and called out:

“Wode, get him, show your teeth so fine!

Hunold, get out of the oak and the pine!

Arndt’s here with his big ol’ hound

Hunold, watch for it, you monstrous mound!”

“And the branches snapped, and the trees huffed and puffed so loudly that the magpies cursingly flew off. Then a voice roared from the bushes:

“I’m coming!

The axe I’ll dig up from the ground,

Then watch out, Arndt, then watch out, hound!

I’m no human, I’m no beast,

I am a monster, to say the least!”

“When Arndt heard that voice, his mocking mouth fell silent. “Wode”, he wanted to call, “Wode, come here!”, but he did not get that far. With one leap, Hunold jumped out of the shrubbery, he swung his Hun axe around threateningly, and it made the cowhide expose his hairy chest.

“Arndt was, however, not looking back. Never in his life did he run that fast. His hunting entourage, sitting on the hill, occasionally seeing one leg here and one leg there, which hardly touch the ground. Three people were running this race, of which two were doing so for their lives. Sometimes Wode ran on front, then Arndt. The roaring giant ran just behind them – “a monster, to say the least”. How the white axe flashed in his hand! He came closer and closer, the cowhide fluttered in the wind. How he cried out: “Ho ho! Arndt on the run, the Devil will end that fun!”

“But then his loyal hunting entourage became distressed, for they could not help him. If Arndt was to reach his house, then he would be safe: the Donnerbesen next to the hall door was feared by devils, giants, and other monsters. Then Hunold wanted to grab Arndt already – with a leap he jumped over the hedge – the giant ran blindly against it and tripped up. Yes, truly, Arndt escaped. The giant, in his anger, threw his axe to him. It did not hit him, but got stuck in the door post. The large door was closed, Arndt was saved, yes, he escaped Hunold.

“Ho ho!” they heard him scream once more. He looked for his axe, but when he saw the Donnerbesen on the house wall, he flinched back. He left the axe where it was. He shook his fist threateningly and then departed to the Hun’s Brook in Höcklenkamp. “He probably wants to cool down there,” Hasso said.

“Once it turned dark, they dared to search Eberink’s courtyard. But his doors remained shut tight, no living creature showed itself. The door post was shattered and charred by the axe, in the way Hunold threw it. Nobody was able to locate the axe.

“The other day Egberink’s wife send a message that her husband was bedridden, ill. When his friends came to visit, he said: “This was a one-time only. Let’s let Hunold be. Let’s not talk about it anymore. I’ll shake on that!””

Heinrich Specht, Die Gläserne Kutsche, Third edition (1967), p. 33-35
En dunderbessem up de Lütherkerk in Hamburg-Wellingsbüttel, Düütskland / A dunderbessem on the Lutheran Church in Hamburg-Wellingsbüttel, Germany (born/source: Wikimedia Commons)

Disse ard vortelling is al in 17. eyw vünden in Drenthe (Nedderland), upteykend döär domy Picardt. Dår geit et um twey rouvers, Ellert en Brammert, dee in 19. eyw ouk in rysen vorandert (Theo Meder, “In Search of the Dutch Lore of the Land: Old and New Legends throughout the Netherlands” (2011), s. 126). Eyn grout underskyd tüsken disse vortellingen, is dat de rysen uut de vortellingen van Specht en Roelofs döär en speciaal teyken teagenholden würden. In de düütske vortelling geit et um en dunderbessem, en inmetseld figüür dat wel wat likt up en upstånde bessem. Up de nedderlandske kant van de grüppe geit et um en stypelteaken. De stypel is en ståv, dee tüsken sküürdöären in steit, dår see good up enkander ansluten. Disse ståv kin vurdhåld wurden, dår eyn byvübbeld en kar makliker skuur in krygen kin. Up süksen stypel steit oft en markering, dårmed good to seen is how of de stypel vannys torüch up syn stea moot, as eyn hum vurdhåld hev.

De ofkumst van disse teykens is neet heydaal düdlik. Meskeen is et untstån in late middeleywen, of villicht de vrügmoderne tyd. Oft höyrst eyn, dat disse teykens übel ofweard. Roelofs skrivt der sülv ouk um:

“Toch had ieder hoes zien ofwèèrtekens anebracht, op de muren, de keziens en de deuren. A’j now is langs ooldere huuze komt, dan mu’j d’r is acht op sloan; veural op de muurankers van de huuze stoat streepies en kruusies en romeinse cijfers; dat waren vrogger de ofwèèrtekens tegen de reuzen en de kobolten, de boze geesten en de heksen!”

H. Roelofs, Verhalen oet Gramsbargen (1994), s. 14

Ouk Specht nöömt dat “Vor dem Donnerbesen neben der großen Dielentür fürchten sich Teufel, Riesen und Unholde” (Heinrich Specht, Die Gläserne Kutsche, 3. uplåge (1967), s. 35).

Eyn höyrt oft, dat disse teykens uut een vöärkristlike tyd kümt, dår lüde noch glööv haren um übele weasens dee et büerenhuus in gevår brengen kunden (Jan Jans en Everhard Jans, Gevel- en Stiepeltekens in Oost-Nederland (1977), s. 14-16). Et vrümde is, dat dit detai van et ofwearteyken neet to vinden is in de oldere versionen, lykas dee um Ellert en Brammert. Sülvs in låtere versionen likt et neet wårlik bekind to weasen, dår autörs sik dit idea van de teykens vorklåren mutten. Når myn idea is et düs en nymouds idea. Lüde binnen höär neet länger bekind med de ornamenten up büerenhusen, en gån der nye beteykenissen an geaven. Disse ard beteykenissen krygen dan oft legitimatsioon via volksvortellingen, lykas wy hyr seen. Disse ard folkvortelling is neet old, mor syn funktsioon, dee eyn hyr seet (legitimatsioon), is tydslous.

This type of story can already be found in the 17th century in Drenthe (the Netherlands), recorded by pastor Picardt. It is about two bandits, Ellert and Brammert, who transformed into giants in the 19th century (Theo Meder, “In Search of the Dutch Lore of the Land: Old and New Legends throughout the Netherlands” (2011), p. 126). A big difference between these stories is that the giants from the story of Specht and Roelofs are repelled by a special sign. In the German story it is a dunderdessem, a masoned figure resembling something of an upright broom. On the Dutch side of the border this is a stypelteaken. The stypel is a bar that is placed between two barn doors, making sure they are closed tightly. This bar can be removed so that one can move a car better into the barn. These stypels often have a mark engraved in them, which shows how the stypel should be placed back, after someone has removed it.

The origin of these markings is not entirely clear. Perhaps they arose in late Medieval times, or perhaps in early modern times. It is often stated that these markings repel evil. Roelofs also writes about it:

“Yet every house had its repelling signs on the walls, the window frames, and the doors. When you pass by older houses you should pay attention to this: all over the wall anchors you find indentations and crosses and Roman numerals; in the past these were repelling signs against giants and kobolds, evil spirits and witches!”

H. Roelofs, Verhalen oet Gramsbargen (1994), p. 14

Specht likewise states that “before the dunderbessem next to the big barn door devils, giants, and monsters flee” (Heinrich Specht, Die Gläserne Kutsche, 3. uplåge (1967), p. 35 (my translation)).

One often hears that these signs stem from a pre-Christian era, during which people believed in evil beings that could endanger the farm (Jan Jans en Everhard Jans, Gevel- en Stiepeltekens in Oost-Nederland (1977), p. 14-16). The strange this is that the detail of the repelling sign is not found in the older versions, like that of Ellert and Brammert. Even in later versions it is not truly common knowledge, since the authors need to explain the meaning of those signs. To me, this points towards a new idea. People are no longer familiar with the ornaments on farm houses, and provide them with new meanings. These new meanings are then legitimized through folktales, as we have seen here. This type of story is therefore not old, but its function as showcased here (legitimation) is timeless.

De Äckse krapp ick ut de Grund,
Dann wahr’ di, Arndt, dann wahr’ die, Hund! / The axe I’ll dig up from the ground, Then watch out, Arndt, then watch out, hound! Model: Harjo

Spookplåtkepråt

Um et måken van de foto

Wy willen altomål wel weyten how of wy de böyse uut buurt holden kinnen! Disse plåt har ik my by de kark van et dörp måked med en aader nåber. Hy kin swår blyde wurden van historiske vorhålen en hee wul doch gaern meddoon. Wy leynden de byle van myn süster dee stuv by woont, en güngen når kark to by et tweydüüsteren. Ditmål wol ik en “lüddek licht foto” måken. Geyn reakener vöärr nöydig. Ik huuvde allennig mor de kamera op stuuv lange sluutertyd to setten. En swår laeg, vöär et rysengevöl. De sluutertyd was wel 20 sekunden, en nå 15 sekunden rende Harjo et bild uut, dårdöär hy döärsichtig werd in de plåt. Nå vorskydene målen to vorsöken haren wy up et end eyn goien maaked. En sey hyr: en spookachtige rys!

Spooky Spectral Speculation

About creating the picture

We all want to know how to keep evil out! This picture I took at the medieval church at our village with a different neighbour this time. With his enthousiasm for history he was not hard to persuade. We borrowed the axe from my sister, who also lives nearby, and went to the church at sundown. This time I wanted to try a photography technique called “low light photography”. No Photoshop required. Just set the camera at a long shutter time. And at a low angle for a Giantly feel. For this picture the shutter time was 20 seconds and after 15 seconds Harjo (my model) ran out of the frame, making him see-through in the picture. After several attempts we finally had a good one. Behold: a ghostly giant!

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