The Ringebakkerne Quarries
Upon entering the Ringebakkerne Quarries, you immediately sense the depth and varying levels of this hilly landscape. The steep, winding paths lead through a geometrical rough-hewn incision into a natural landscape where on all sides you can see vertical, coarse granite walls and dusty hills, with angular stone blocks weighing many tonnes stacked or detached as monuments to the stone-quarrying industry that once operated here. The abandoned stone quarry south of Vang was transformed into a recreational area in 2011 with support from various sources, including NCC (the site’s previous owner) and the Realdania foundation. The quarry area was named after the large ring-shaped ridges along the rocky Bornholm coast south of Hammershus, ‘Ringebakkerne’ (the Ringe Hills). The road sign pointing the way to the quarries is supposedly the longest on Bornholm.
‘Klondyke’ was the first quarrying area with scattered small quarries, now filled with water. From its coastal location, dumper trucks filled with granite were sent on tracks down to Vang Harbour, which was originally the base for North Bornholm’s stone masons’ yards. The Vang quarry just south of Vang is connected to the town by the existing cycling track, whereas the Almeløkke quarry at the south end of the Ringe Hills is accessed from Borrelyngvej. The Ringebakkerne quarries are linked by transport roads and paths with views of the Baltic Sea and a lovely vista of Vang Pier, the reconstructed shipment facility of the former granite industry. The entire Ringebakkerne area and quarries is now a conservation area of natural beauty, offering a host of possible activities. This wonderfully rough-hewn nature area is typified by its industrial and cultural history, which is now accessible to nature lovers and recreation enthusiasts. There are climbing walls for rock climbing, a number of mountain-biking trails, paths, a Nature Space shelter for spending the night, and many long walking tours. The abundant wildlife here has adapted to the area’s hilly, rough-hewn terrain over time. This includes a pair of peregrine falcons who breed on the elevated rock ledges. On good days they can be seen attentively hovering over the vast excavated areas.
The quietness is monumental in the terrain’s mixture of magnificent wild scenery and industrial history. Towering sheer granite walls and rusting iron from the machinery and equipment for stone quarrying and crushed-stone operations coexist, silently attesting to an abandoned industry. Granite was quarried at Ringebakkerne from 1896 to 2004, and Bornholm granite was much in demand over the years. This is because granite is one of the world’s oldest, hardest and most weather-resistant natural rocks, some of which are more than 2,000 million years old. The Vang quarries supplied granite to some of Denmark’s biggest historical construction projects, such as Copenhagen Town Hall, Christiansborg Palace, the National Museum of Denmark and the Great Belt Link.
The winding road leading from the highway through Almeløkke quarry to the paths along the quarry precipice affords views of an azure lake. It is surrounded by tall, algae-clad rocky walls over which a waterfall cascades down to the lake. A Nature Space shelter is built on one of the plateaus, on the foundations from a former crushing and screening machine. The Nature Space has a geometric architectural style with a vertical slope in its ‘front garden’. The quarry opens out towards the sea through a sharply defined incision through rock and nature, a straight up-and-down crevice blasted through using industrial explosives. The rough-hewn rocky walls on both sides of this deep corridor lead from the quarry out to Vang Pier. The road was originally created to supply granite to the Great Belt Link. The Ringebakkerne quarries supplied enormous volumes of granite to the Great Belt construction project. Instead of transporting the granite by road to Hasle for shipment, a loading wharf was extended out from the coast and, due to the strong demand for Bornholm granite, it was decided to break through the coastal bedrock and establish a road from Vang quarry out to the loading facility. From above, the pier resembles an inverted question mark and was the basis for the enlarging of Vang Pier. Today, it encloses a lagoon which shelters bathers on hot summer days. It is possible to walk all the way out to the end of the pier and experience the rocky coast from the sea, with views of Teglkås and Helligpeder to the south and Vang, Hammershus and the Hammer peninsula to the north.
The bridge, which was originally built across the disconnected coastal path which had previously been used for transport, was replaced by the DGI bridge in 2002, a work of art by Peter Bonnén, in conjunction with the national DGI gymnastics meet held on Bornholm. The sculptural bridge is built of large iron plates patinated with rust and grating in the bottom, so it is possible to stand right over the crevice and get a sinking feeling from looking down on the roughly 20-metre free fall to the transport road.
The area is filled with relics from the stone-quarrying era: rails for the dumper trucks, large rusty iron structures, a disembarkation port, transport carriages and a concrete cellar. Descending one level from the bridge and Nature Space shelter will take you to the cellar and former crushing works blasted into the middle layer of bedrock. In the darkness of the cellar, you can feel the atmosphere of the preserved operational facilities and immerse yourself in the small collection of museum photos and history from the heyday of the stone quarry. There are photos of workers and machinery in operation. They quarried, blasted and hewed the cliffs, stone by stone. It was hard work, but when the stone masons returned home after an exhausting day’s work, they had turned the hard, heavy stones into their daily bread. The Ringebakkerne quarries constitute a fascinating slice of Bornholm’s industrial history, whose magnificent beauty and rough-hewn aesthetics are astonishing.