Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Koge - Oldest House; Infractions Industry, Thatching, Koge Huskors, Jante Law

Old Houses, Modern Parking Issues, Thatching Technique, Witches, Jante Law

 Koge was founded in 1288, see, and was also the site of witch-burnings, as also occurred in the rest of Europe, here in 1608-1615, the Koge Huskors time. Witch trials.  The article there is extensive. Some 15-20 women were burned. Two more killed themselves.  It started with allegations against the unfortunate Johanne Thomes, that she let Satan into somebody's house, and accusations spread from there. Among the burned: Mette Banghors, Kirsten Laurisdatter, Annika Kristoffersdatter. Read the 1487 handbook for the Inquisition's prosecuting heretics, developing with a focus on women as witches, the Malleus Maleficarum, or Hammer of Witches. Identify, interrogate, convict.

1.  Oldest house

Denmark's allegedly oldest (and perhaps smallest) house is in Koge:  built in 1527, see The inhabitant here would have known about the Koge Huskors trials in the early 17th Century.

Koge, Denmark's oldest (and smallest?) house, front view

How did it survive? Castles may survive, and palaces. When they burn, they are likely to be rebuilt, remodeled, reimagined, or simply reinstated.  The owners had the money to do that. The tradesmen also could afford to redo.  The shop could be on the first floor, the family above. The truly little person's home, however, built not for evolving comfort or cultural ideals, or sheltering extended families, small chance of survival. Gone. Nothing worth saving, is that so? See Home, A Short History of an Idea, by Witold Ribcynszki

 So how did this one manage to survive fires and time? Virtue of the inhabitants, and good fortune.

With the width appreciated, now admire the side half timber pattern. The timber framing would be filled with rubble, horsehair, plaster, bricks, anything; it provided an insulated, sturdy wall. See the technique at

  • Other countries vie for narrowest house, and display a width inside that da Vinci's man in the circle, perhaps, could touch with extended arms and reaching fingers out both sides.  Those houses may go up substantially past a first floor and a loft, even to the height of the grander neighbors.  Taxes might have been based on frontage -- so the alley-builder won. See The Netherlands Road Ways, Narrowest House in Amsterdam, perhaps, for example.
Other old homes in Koge

These look more like the old parts of other towns, with long flat fronts, half timber structure, patterns. There are many such streets here - the fire gods looked the other way for conflagrations.

The yellow ochre color, an earth source, is traditional, see

Most roofs now are tile.  Thatch caught fire too easily. 

Homes also could provide carriage access to the inner courtyard, where the horses also would be stabled.

2.  Infractions Industry

We are very, very careful with driving rules.  It is not worth finding a wee ticket.  For example, there is a little no-parking sign at the end there. Pay close attention to no-parking signs. These are songs without words and may take some learning ahead of time. They are well standardized, however, so learning one basic European vehicle control symbols system works most everywhere.

Watch out particularly for free-looking spaces, because they are probably not.  There will probably be a fee box machine down a ways. Pay for the time you want, get a little slip ad put it on your dashboard. Even for five minutes.

Towns are not cruise-vehicle friendly.  Too many cars, and money to be made in the Infractions Industry. See Elisabeth Rosenthal -- NYT on Irking Drivers. European pastime.

Signs are in three categories:

a.  Warning signs -- these are usually self-explanatory little pictures of what is coming;  bumps, curves.
b.   Prohibitive signs -- these can be anybody's guess.  Photocopy a crib sheet and keep it in the door pocket for fast use. Your basic guide book also should have a section on driving.
c.  Informative signs, but these also include prohibitive signs for parking.  Other sites show further signs for kinds of vehicles allowed up this alley, etc.   Basics are at

3.  Thatching.

Thatched roofs are still common. The methods are old, old.  Hear and see some being constructed, but from the UK, Thatching a Roof, see

Do watch the thatching video. It covers global kinds of thatching.

Even let it run in another window with the music while you do something else. It is not a talkie.

4. Jante Law

Koge as a small town might (or might not) embody the Jante Law that operates to keep people in line: see Jante Law or Jante's Law at  The term for this community driven social control when individuality or creativity threaten the status quo, regardless how oppressive, derives from a book by author Aksel Sandemose, A Refugee Crosses His Tracks.  The concept of conformity by group pressure is not at all unique to the Scandinavian countries, but was best articulated there.

Jante says: Don't think you are special because you are not.  Don't think you know more than the rest of us because you don't, now sit down. Don't talk back. Find Koge's house here as an example of a small Scandinavian town, but not claiming that the fictitious Jante was here.

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