The Danish island of Bornholm is also called the "mill island". About 125 windmills and 120 water mills existed on Bornholm since the beginning of the 17th century. Today, almost 20 mills have survived on Bornholm, several of which still operate. The mill in Gudhjem is the largest windmill in Denmark, and the mill in Årsdale is the oldest still functioning Danish windmill.
Types of mills on Bornholm
History of Bornholm Mills
The first windmill on Bornholm dates from around 1500 and was located near Hammershus Castle. Initially, mills were used to grind grain, but from around 1650, with the beginning of industrial development, other devices and machines were using mills power. The mills are evenly distributed on Bornholm, but they are definitely preserved in the east, north and south of the island. Windmills and water mills are one of the most interesting monuments of Bornholm.
In the 16th century, post mills were created, it was a kind of mill in which the entire structure stood on a thick pile, was transformed into the wind by means of a lever. Three of these types of mills, which are the oldest in Europe, still operate on Bornholm: Bechs Mølle in Svaneke, which is the oldest windmill in Denmark, Tejn Mølle in Melsted and Egeby Mølle on the road from Rønne to Nexo.
List of post windmills on Bornholm
Bechs Mølle in Svaneke
Egeby Mølle in Åker
Tejn Mølle in Melsted
The Bechs mill is the post mill that stands on the northern outskirts of Svaneke. The mill was built in 1629. It is not only the largest of the three remaining windmills on Bornholm, but also the largest windmill in Denmark. The mill was named after its owner - HB Bech, who bought it in 1814 as almost a 200-year-old mill. In 1857, the mill was expanded, a house and a bakery were built nearby. In 1866 the mill was completely dismantled and moved due to the reconstruction of the road. During the move parts of the mill were replaced and the whole mill was slightly enlarged.
The mill was closed in 1928 and since then it is looked after by the Bornholm Friends Association. In 1960 the mill was thoroughly restored again and in 1975 a support group from Svaneke took over the care of the mill. After replacing some parts in 2004 and 2007, Bech Mølle is now in very good condition.
Egeby Mølle between Bodilsker and Aakirkeby is the most characteristic of the three remaining windmills on Bornholm. The mill was built in 1787, but construction work on the mill was recorded in 1794, where at that time it was probably moved and renovated after a lightning strike. Egeby Mølle was active until 1920. Many parts of the mill were replaced in the 1950s and 1960s, but many original parts, such as millstones, were left intact.
The wings were dismantled in 1987 after severe damage by a storm. In the years 1996–1999 another extensive renovation took place, during which it was discovered that the original mill had to be 3 m narrower and probably after renovation it had the dimensions it had in 1794. Thanks to good care, the mill is now fully functional.
Melsted Mølle stands in a field in Melsted above the Melstedgaard Agricultural Museum, which attracts 30,000 tourists every year. The wooden post mill is also known as Tejn-Mølle because the mill was not always in its current location. It was built around 1800 in Årsballe in the central part of Bornholm. In 2006, the mill was moved to Melsted, near the Agricultural Museum.
The mill is one of the few still functioning mills in Bornholm, and due to the proximity of the agricultural museum, the mill is used to produce feed for farm animals.
In the mid-eighteenth century, Dutch mills were introduced on Bornholm, in which not the whole body of the mill, but only the hood of the mill with its wings turned in the wind. In 1793, the first Dutch windmill was built in Rønne. Due to the design of the rotary head, Dutch windmills could be built much larger than the old post windmills because they had more space for the machines inside.
There are still 12 mills of this type on the island today.
The Aarsdale Windmill from 1877 is a Dutch windmill located on a hilltop on the southern edge of Aarsdale, 3 km south of Svaneke. Among the Dutch windmills, Årsdale Mølle is the only mill in Denmark that has been in continuous operation since its construction and in which grain is still ground today.
Årsdale Mølle can be viewed from the inside, and next to the store to buy fresh flour, is a historic building since 1959.
Myreagre Mølle is located along the road from Aakirkeby to Nexø and is a popular photo attraction. It has an octagonal shape on the outside and round on the inside. Myreagre Mølle is built of local sandstone, but in a different technique than Kirkemølle. The father of the current owner bought the mill in 1913, modernized it in 1921 and added a bakery in 1925. In 1940, the current owner took over the mill.
In 1962 the bakery was closed and in 1970 also the mill. In 1982 and 1987, the mill was renovated, but unfortunately it is slowly deteriorating because the current owner ceased its renovation. The windmill is currently for sale.
On Møllebakken 4 high above the city is the Gudhjem landmark - the Dutch windmill Kullmanns Mølle. In the largest windmill in Denmark doesn’t work anymore. Kullmanns Mølle dates from 1893 and was built by Matts Kullmann. At the same time the residential building, the bakery and other buildings were built in the immediate vicinity. The Kullmann family operated the mill until 1944. The Asmussen grain company from Copenhagen then took over the mill. The wings turned for the last time in 1962.
All technology was removed and in 1965 the company sold the mill. Later it served as a nightclub and ceramic workshop. In 1993 the mill was renovated and received new wings in their present size. In 1998, other parts of the mill were renovated, including the roof. After the restoration of the mill in 2009, there was a cafe, wine shop and exhibition hall. Unfortunately, the mill is currently closed.
Kirkemølle south of Pedersker is the only existing stone mill in Bornholm. It was built of local sandstone and is therefore a special element of the history of the mills on Bornholm. The Dutch mill is called a church mill because it is located near Pederskirke. It was built in 1861 to replace the old post mill, which was demolished after 150 years of operation. The old sails were made in 1899 by typical self-regulating wooden wings. The mill was manually transformed into a wind mill in 1908. Then it was rebuilt and expanded and received its current shape, including a wind rose. The mill has 4 floors.
In the years 1867–1959 the mill had belonged to the Marker family for four generations. The mill fell into disrepair since 1969. In 1978, the owner began to rebuild it. This continued until 1982.
Valsemølle stands on a rock, south of Aakirkeby. It is not easy to see it because it is located in the courtyard of a modern mill that still produces flour. Valsmølle has an octagonal hull and was built in 1867. To replace the old post mill. The windmill has not been used since 1950. In 1976, a fire destroyed large parts of the windmill and surrounding buildings.
However, due to the huge importance of the mill, it has been restored again.
Kuremølle is located along the road from Svaneke to Østermarie and is almost identical to Svanemøllen. Kuremølle and Svanemolle were built by Christian Sommer. In 1900, son Emil Sommer took over the mill, and in 1912 he built a bakery next to the mill. Some renovations and modernizations took place in the 1930s and 1940s. The mill's activity ended at the beginning of 1950, however, the bakery's operation continued until 1976.
Then, the association of friends Kuremølle was established, which carried out the renovation of the mill. Thanks to the work of the association, the mill was maintained in good condition and, above all, functional.
Svanemølle stands above Svaneke on the road from Svaneke to Østermarie. It is a Dutch mill made of wood similar in construction to that located near Kuremølle. Svanenmølle is one of the best-preserved mills in Bornholm. In 1855, 10 residents gathered in Svaneke and Ibsker to build a Dutch windmill. At that time, there was an oversupply of mills in the area, but they were post windmills, mainly in poor condition except for the Bech Mølle mill. Mill designer Christian Sommer was commissioned to build a mill in 1856. In 1861, the mill was sold to Hans Kofoed, who expanded it. His son took over the mill in 1885, and in 1895 he added a bakery to the mill.
The mill and bakery operated until the 1950s. Then the mill was threatened by demolition and was taken over by the Svaneke community in 1958. It was restored in 1960. The mill is now thoroughly restored and is in excellent condition.
Saxebro Mølle lies north of Boderne, on the road from Rønne to Snogebæk. It is also a free-standing Dutch windmill with an attached courtyard and former bakery. The mill building has an octagonal shape with an external, round inside and is built of sandstone. The house and bakery were built at the same time as the mill. The mill operated until 1958, when a storm severely damaged its wings. In 1986 the bakery was finally closed.
Reconstruction of the mill with the help of sponsors is planned.
Bakkemølle in Nexø is also an octagonal stone mill. It was built in 1871 and worked until 1970. In 1984, the mill was sold and transformed by the owners.
Unfortunately, all mill technology has been removed, and only its walls were left, painted yellow, which has no historical reference.
Stenby Mølle built in 1857 near Rø is the oldest preserved Dutch wooden windmill. In 1898, the mill changed ownership. As a result, various elements were modernized and replaced. In 1914, a bakery was added to the mill, which was closed in 1930. At the end of 1959, all parts of the machine were removed. Then, attempts were made to reconstruct the mill several times.
During reconstruction work, the mill head was removed and a temporary roof protects it from rain. Since then, the mill is waiting for a new cap and wings.
Røbro Mølle near Rø is the youngest preserved wooden windmill in Bornholm. It was built in 1895. In 1906 and 1915, the mill was modernized by the new owner. Technology from this period has been preserved to this day. The wings were renovated in 1949 and then removed in 1970.
Due to its design and location, Røbro Mølle is an important part of the history of the mills on Bornholm.
Centuries ago, many courtyards along the waterways had small water mills, and since grinding was common at the time, there were many such water mills on the island. Horizontal mills, also known as splash mills, were common. In this type of mill, the wheel was mounted horizontally. Splash mills were gradually replaced by larger water mills, the drive wheel of which was mounted vertically and has a horizontal axis. Water mills were mainly half-timbered buildings with 3-4 compartments and thatched roofs. In addition to the Vang water mill on the west coast of Bornholm, there are two more water mills to this day - the water mill in Slusegårds and Ågårds. Remains of water mills can still be found on many island streams.
List of water mills on Bornholm
The Slusegård water mill is located near the beach and the port of Sømarken in the south of Bornholm. It can also be reached from Dueodde to Pedersker. The Slusegård water mill is only a few steps away. The mill is located on the river Øle Å with an attached trout pond and various lock systems. Fresh water from a nearby source is supplied to the trout pond. The mill dates back to the beginning of the 18th century, and the nearby Slusegård farm was built later. The mill was mainly used for crushing grain, but also for cutting wood. The mill building is built of half-timbered houses and covered with thatched roofs. After the change of ownership in 1949 in the 1950s and 1960s, the buildings and mill pond were restored in cooperation with the Bornholm Museum.
The mill has a new grinder since 1989 and is fully functional. The Slusegård watermill and pond are protected also the surrounding landscape is protected.
The best preserved is the Vang water mill, which dates from 1811 and was used until 1905. In 1927 it was restored and protected as a monument. In 1931, a mill and residential buildings were sold. In 1968, "Foreningen Bornholm" expressed interest in buying a mill. In 1969, the water mill was completely taken over by the Bornholm Museum. In 1978, the Vang water mill was the only operating water mill in Bornholm. In 1986, the mill, both inside and outside, was completely renovated.
The last comprehensive renovation took place in 2010/2011. The thatched mill is built into a steep mountain and is quite a rare mill of this type.
The Ågård water mill is somewhat hidden northeast of Pedersker at the farm entrance at the small stream Øle Å. The existing mill is typical of the type of small water mill and was built from parts of an earlier mill that originated from the early eighteenth century.
It has not been used since 1958, but is constantly renovated with its adjoining pond.