The caves

The caves

From late medieval times until the 1820´s no big changes took place in the caves. From a hole formed like a shaft you gained access to the limestone. A ”hewer” loosened the limestone and the ”carriers” transported the stone to the field above.

The ”hewer” used the loosened limestone as a platform and so the tunnel often reached a height of several meters. Only big limestones were removed. Limestone debris and flints were left as a growing heap on the floor of the tunnel. As time passed, the carriers had to stoop in a narrow tunnel surrounded by heaps of flints.

In 1826 the king Frederik 6th visited the caves of Mønsted. You could work more efficiently, the king thought. Two ingenieurs from the limestone caves at Bad Segeberg in Holsten were called to Mønsted to improve the limestone quarrying. The specialists recommended hoists and carts instead of ”carriers”. The limestone was now hoisted up through vertical shafts and new tunnels were made so wide that twowheeled carts could pass.

Construction and operation of the new shafts were expensive so the mine owners had to cooperate. In 1840 were only two mining complexes running. Seven farmers operated together ”Frederiks Kalkværk”. In the smaller ”Nonbos Grube” three farmers operated together a complex of shafts.

From the end of the 19. Century the limestone was used for purposes other than building and whitewashing. The metal and chemical industry was buying large amounts and the agricultural sector started buying large amounts of agricultural limestone.Even the lowest quality of limestone was sold and the previously worthless flints now ended up as road material,foundations and masonry. Working in the caves was now an all-year occupation. In the Summertime you worked in the open mine, in the Wintertime in the caves. The large-scale mining with, among other things, dump waggons required wider tunnels, but the limestone was still hewed with a pickaxe. All attempts to improve the mining had failed. Pneumatic hammers mashed the limestone into a mush and the last attempt with dynamite released a landslip burying ten dump waggons.

In 1953 the last limestone was mined in the caves. Two years later the work in the open mines stopped. But in the limestone factory two men produced lime powder until the late 1970’s.