Life between the bog and the sea
Øster Hurup is located at the far south of the narrow strip of land that separates Lille Vildmose from Kattegat, and for centuries the development of the village was characterised by the fact that scope for traditional agriculture was limited here on the edge of the bog.
Towards the end of the 17th century, Øster Hurup comprised six farms with eleven farmers, eight houses with land and three houses without land. The farms were very small. Small farms were shared between two farmers, and the biggest farm was shared by three farmers. To make the best possible use of the plot of land, Øster Hurup, like the neighbouring villages to the north, was drawn together into a long village along the road on the narrow strip of land between the bog and the sea.
Accordingly, opportunities for fishing and salt seething on the coast of Kattegat were a vital source of income for the local people. Fishermen operated from the beach, and the catches were mainly lumpfish, cod, mackerel, plaice and herring, caught using pound nets and traps. According to written sources, salt was seethed either by evaporation of seawater or by burning seaweed. There is a description of the latter method from 1686: "In the parish of Als, much salt is burned from seaweed. If it rains while the seaweed dries, it spoils. Thus the farmers spread the seaweed on the beach forthwith for some days, that it might drink in of the salt water. One brine trough brings forth 8 barrels of good measure... the brine is seethed in a pan the size of 2 or 3 barrels. The brine well seethed, a woman takes the salt from beneath with a large wooden spoon and lays (it) in a large receptacle such as a cheese vat, sets the vessel askew that the water might drip until morning, gathers the salt into a cloth, places the vats in the furnace and bakes them - ready to sell." At Fruerlund, just south of Øster Hurup, archaeologists have excavated one of the salt seething huts with a fireplace 7.5 m in length.
Fishing hamlet and bathing resort
Fishing by Øster Hurup took a completely new direction with the inauguration of the harbour on 4 January 1936. To give the fishing vessels free access to the innermost low water areas, the harbour was constructed as an island harbour at the end of a long dam, and this paved the way for some serious fishing adventures. At times, there were as many as 70 cutters in the harbour basin, which had to be enlarged as early as 1956, and the quay accommodated both a fish export co-operative and a customs control point. As with most of the other fishing hamlets along the coast of Kattegat, however, commercial fishing in Øster Hurup began to decline around 1970-80. These days, the island harbour is frequented first and foremost by lots of sailing tourists.
Øster Hurup is the undisputed holiday centre of East Himmerland. In summer, there is a buzz of activity at almost any time of the day or night. The main attractions are the mild, child-friendly beach, the cosy harbour and the charming atmosphere of the town. At the same time, however, the town is well within range of attractions such as the Renaissance gardens of Visborggård castle, the natural and cultural history just waiting to be explored in and around Lille Vildmose, and the various departments of Hadsund District Museum in Hadsund, Als regional museum or Havnø mill.
Sources: Andersen, Lise: Lille Vildmose, en kulturhistorisk oversigt. Pilotprojekt Lille Vildmose 2004.
Qvistorff, Helge: Nordjyllands Kyster, kendte og ukendte. Skørping 1996.
Trap. Aalborg Amt, 5. udgave, 1960.