Oeland the place where I was born -  the founder of Scantool Group Mr. Jens-Martin Nielsen tells the story of Oeland - home of the Scantool Group

Oeland - My place of birth
Right from the beginning Oeland was an island in the northern part of Limfjorden in North Jutland, Denmark (not to be mistaken with the very large island in the Baltic Sea which belongs to Sweden). Like so many other landscapes in Denmark Oeland was created when the Ice Age ended 15,000 years ago. 

For as long ago as 4-5,000 years there have been people living on Oeland. This is prooven by several findings of flint tools and several thousand year old settlements in this area. Local history records tells about a poor, but very active community which through hundreds of years have made their living from farmery and fishing.

In this little community I was born as the youngest son of merchant Valdemar Nielsen who had everything from grocery to animal feeding stuffs and tools for farming in his store.

I love this area. I have always been fascinated by the nature and the sea and have enjoyed both ever since I was a little boy helping my father to bring out the groceries to his customers.

All my life Oeland has been connected to the main land and has in many ways an interesting past that historically is a part of Denmark's history.
In the years 1160 - 75 a benedictine convent was built on the island by the bishop Thyge - who was born on Oeland - he had the convent built so a mother superior and other sisters could serve "The Allmighty" in a regular lifestyle. To be honest the real reason for the bishop´s deed was the concern for his own soul and salvation, and that he with this good deed would change the earthly with the heavenly and the perishable with the eternal. Anyhow he gave his fatherly belongings on the island to the convent shortly before his death.

Later in the year 1500 the Oe convent with a nearby church was built - today this convent and church serve as Oeland church. Before that time the convent had its premises in wooden buildings. Oe convent became richer and richer and as time went on it owned almost the whole island. At that time it was almost common practice that the farmers ascribed their properties to the convent which in return provided them with necessities and food for the rest of their lives. Of course they had to work hard but they remained copyholders until they died.

At the Reformation in 1536 Oe convent went to the Crown. For the next 25 years the convent was managed by Knud Gyldenstjerne (known from Denmark's history) who was one of Chr. II´s eyeservants. In 1573 Oe convent was taken over by Frans Banner who was married to Anna Oxe who again was sister to national butler Peder Oxe. Frans Branner was so courteus to his wife that he renamed Oe convent to Oxholm Estate due to the dimensions of its belongings with landownership outside Oeland.
A statement of ownership outside the estate in 1568, meaning outside of Oeland was as follows:
                                        161 farms
                                         68 settlements 
                                         84 streethouses
                                           3 churches

Since then the estate has had many wellknown owners noble of birth and well respected - amongst them the founder of The East Asian Company, councellor of state H.N. Andersen who bought it for his son.
A gold finding
The community on Oeland was not totally isolated prooven by an event in 1857. A farm-hand from the area on his way to visit his girlfriend went - to cut off the distance - across "Vejlerne" surrounding Oeland which he knew very well. Suddenly he got something heavy around his one foot, he picked it up and it turned out to be a neck ring of 2 pounds of pure gold. Later investigations has shown that such rings were worn by chiefs as a necklace in the years 10-1100 to show their status. How the ring - now in possession by The National Museum - ended up in "Vejlerne" will probably forever remain a mystery. The best part of this story is that the farm-hand who handed over the ring to right place got himself a reward so large that he could marry his girlfriend and buy a farm on Oeland. Here he lived with his wife and children to the end of their lives. The farm is still there and is inhabbited even today by descendants to the farm-hand.
A witch was to be burned
On November 23rd in 1616 Kirsten Thomasdatter from Oesterby (East Village) on Oeland was put on trial when 12 churchgoers had sworn fidelity for her having witchcraft. Now The Middle Age, with its brutal sense of justice for independent women with their own minds, had also reached Oeland. Whether the sentence ever was executed or not there is no proof but let us hope that Kirsten made it. All this is past time, but exciting to think back on.
The connection to the main land
In the year 1803 Oeland was connected with Brovst and the island mentality was rapidly changing. The harbour of the island was fading and all trade and traffic was now sent via road. Later on in 1919 the dam between Oeland and Gjoel was built and in 1921 they finished the work with the Oeland - Attrup dam. Now great areas in the northern part of Limfjorden was diked so the area could be drained and cultivated and the society changed the way of life and structure.
The country side
To live next to an inlet gives you some relations to sea, inlet, and forrest, and marks you in your everyday lifestyle for the rest of your life. In the summer it was a natural thing to go for a daily swim with your family or go catch some fish for the household in the rich fish stock of the Limfjord.
Basically all of Denmark is represented here in these few square miles in nature as well as in landscape. My joy of being out door has been passed on to my whole family. A great passion for my son and I is playing golf on the lovely golf course on Oeland which was founded by ARBOGA A/S.
The industry of Oeland - The Fience factory
Naturally in a community this isolated with a poor farm- and fishing population there is no foundation for great industrial development. Therefore it is remarkable that as early as in the year 1814 a fience factory was founded on Oeland. A production with 10 employees could produce up to 40.000 pieces of pots and other fience a year. It was the owner of Oxholm together with a master of pottery from Bornholm who started the production to make economic improvement in the area. A month after the start the owner of Oxholm died, so the pottery maker went along on his own and got himself a good market for his pots on the markets in the northern part of Jutland.

The fience was shipped for Copenhagen and other big cityes directly from Oeland. Thereby the fience from Oeland was known all over the country, even in The West Indies there was later on found some items which probably has been exported directly from Copenhagen.

Oeland fience factory ended its production for unknown reasons in 1840. Oeland fience is today a valuable collecting object. The most valuable examples are though placed in museums in Hjørring, Aalborg and Copenhagen.
The Mills
To make full use of the corn-growing on Oeland for food for men and beasts, it was necessary to have mills. As early as in 1662 the first mill was ready and since then 5 more was built, and through times they have produced flour and grits to the population on the island. In accordance to nature law the mills were placed very high in the landscape and at the same time they became landmarkw for the fishermen doing their occupation on Limfjorden. One mill has survived until today and in 1985 some local citizens ended a rebuilding and restoreration of the Oxholm Mill so today it makes the settings for a local historical museum.
The Fishing
Fishing has always ment a great deal to the life on Oeland. It gave the extra money for living to the people for things farming could not give. Herrings were at times caught in big numbers in the inlet. A more or less systematic salting of the herrings in barrels could in some times of the year look tend a production. They were sold on markets in Northern Jutland and at the herring market in Nibe. The eels were also in big numbers especially in the wintertime and people walked out on the icecovered inlet, made a hole and caught this highly appreciated meal with an eelspear.
My place of birth
As the busy merchant my father was he lived up to the necessary competitiveness in the local community that influenced our daily life. He adjusted himself to the demands of the time and he ran his business until his death in the middle of the 1970's. Luckily I was able to take over my home of birth and then I was ready to start up my business producing wet grinders. This was the foundation of Scantool´s future activity. Later on the production was moved to Brovst and my place of birth became our present head office.
My family
My family has always been a very important part of my life - without them nothing works for me. That is why my family is an integrated part of my business. My wife, two of my children and two of my sons in law have their daily activity here, and two of my children are also living on Oeland. I have three children and seven granchildren already. In this way, the change of generations is already ensured, and I can confirdently look forward to my "third" age with an inner peace.
A childhood dream
My childhood dream has come true. I have succeded in building a business where I was born. This can form the basis of our active life also for my descendants so they can remain in this beautiful part of Denmark.

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