Meet Tove Damholt from World Heritage Stevns

Photo: VisitSydsjælland-Møn

Meteor impacts, dinosaurs and the beginning of life as we know it today – meet a passionate firebrand and learn about the world heritage site at Stevns Klint cliffs.

It’s cold, humid, and walking around the endless, dark corridors beneath the Stevnsfort Cold War Museum is really not enticing. Yet there is a fire burning here. A fire with the voice of Tove Damholt, who is showing us around, talking about the fort, its history and the connections between things here at Stevns. The bigger picture. 

Because this is not your average underground attraction at Stevns. Not by any means. Stevns is a world heritage site. Stevns has been designated by UNESCO as one of only seven sites in Denmark worthy of preservation and of historical importance to future generations. To humanity, actually

Along with the Stevns Klint cliffs, the Stevnsfortet fort is designated as a World Heritage site in Denmark. The cliff offers exceptional traces from one of the most important developments in world history, deposited in the limestone of the cliff. The traces of asteroid impacts and the subsequent mass destruction of life on the planet. Immense, incomprehensible and right in front of you.

And the Stevnsfortet fort, a well-kept secret built by the Danish armed forces in the 1950s as a fortification of the southern part of the Øresund. Carved by hand from the cliff, complete with dormitories, technological radar rooms, checkpoints and peepholes facing the water – and what seems to be endless corridors 18 metres below ground.

And to Tove Damholt, herself a geologist with a PhD, world heritage is not just a regular job. As the director of World Heritage Stevns, her formal role is to bring together stakeholders, local enthusiasts and businesses, and everyone else for the task – but it’s also much more than that. Because how do you communicate something that is at the same time both huge and important on the one hand, yet immensely concrete and specific – and tangible – on the other? And why is it that important?

The story of World Heritage here in Stevns is about life and a huge disaster. And the history is important to remember and pass on – because life has not always looked the way it does today. World Heritage is important to all of humanity – that is the very essence of world heritage, and what we must all safeguard for each other, and that’s what makes it so amazing.

Tove is on first-name terms with everyone down here. Even the retired gentlemen who were all soldiers in the Danish Defence and spent their days down here, and who continue to maintain the machines, the old guns and supplies receive a hug, a smile and a quick chat. Because that’s the way it is. World Heritage and the understanding of it is a common concern, and not something you can do alone from an office or without local support.

Safeguarding something as important as World Heritage is something that a lot of people should join together to do. This is what UNESCO recommends, and something we are really good at here at Stevns. Lots of people want to help preserve World Heritage sites – through communication, good experiences and involvement

And it’s great to make a trip to Stevns. The drama and symbols vie for their place down here – and you can get quite close to the immense storytelling underneath it all at your very own pace. As Tove Damholt says with a twinkle in her eye, Stevns has a rather crazy package on offer.  

When visiting Stevns, you really have the opportunity to immerse yourself in some bizarre and grand stories. It’s about the evolution of life, the extinction of the dinosaurs, the Cold War, beautiful churches plunging into the sea because of nature’s endless might – all played out in this idyllic, quiet countryside, where you can walk along the cliffs to experience it all

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