The South Funen Archipelago has been inhabited for millennia, traces of which date all the way back to Stone Age hunters who inhabited the area 14,000 years ago.
Countless remains of Stone Age settlements have been found, both on land and under water along the shores of the Archipelago telling of an inhabited area comprised of many small communities of hunters and fishers.
Around 70 Stone Age settlements have been recorded, many of which are usually submerged under 3–4 metres of water, as back then these areas were situated along the shore. The records are based on the remains of kitchen middens telling of a Stone Age people who also lived off the sea, i.e. consuming large quantities of common mussels.
Similarly, many burial mounds, settlements and offerings have been discovered, especially around Faaborg and Svendborg and in several locations in Langeland, dating from the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, which lasted from 1700–500 BC and 500 BC – 1000 AD respectively.
For many centuries, the South Funen Archipelago has been an active, important maritime area. Several of the old market towns were also important maritime and shipyard towns with lively trading that involved the conveyance of everything from live fish, fruit and cattle to ordinary passenger traffic. In the early years, the shipping trade was handled by dinghies and decked boats, followed by one-masted yachts and larger wooden ships such as ketches and schooners which also plied the seven seas. The last freight-carrying sailing ships had engines installed as recently as the beginning of World War II.
In the 13th century, the forested islands belonged to the king and, according to Valdemar’s Book of Records from 1232, were used for hunting deer, wild birds and horses.
In the 16th century, forests started to be cleared for farmland and as early as the late 17th century, the woodland forests had all but disappeared and the islands were fully cultivated.
Ownership of several islands was transferred to manors on Funen, Tåsinge and Langeland where in some places the copyhold tenures did not end until the 20th century, although most were abolished in the 19th century.
The manors have had a great impact on the cultural landscape and the appearance and maintenance of the villages and there have been many of them, as well. South Funen has one of the greatest densities of manors in Denmark, and many of the gardens belonging to them are open to the public, including Egeskov, Holstenshuus, Steensgaard, Valdemar Castle, Skovsgaard, Tranekær and Broholm.
Stone Age settlement
Photo - Naturturisme
Old wooden ships
Photo - Sydfyns Turistbureau
Photo - Naturturisme