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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Perfect Setting


     Setting is as integral to a story as the characters and plot. It can also be important to backstory. When I was developing the backstory for Anna, the protagonist in The Legacy, I needed her to be from a location in Denmark that was just north of the German-occupied area of South Jutland in 1874. Farming had to be a major occupation in the area. I also wanted to be able to locate Anna’s family home near a sizable city, where her brother could have been employed by a brewery.


Photo is property of author

     At the time I had not been to Denmark so I looked at a map from the period and selected the city of Vejle. I researched the area enough to know it fit my basic criteria. Now that I’ve visited the city, I’ve learned that Vejle’s beauty and history make it a worthy main character.

     The city is situated in eastern Jutland. Businesses and residences stand in river valleys and on the slopes of wooded hills. Green trees provide a lovely backdrop for the numerous brick structures and tiled roofs.

Photo by K.A. Knudsen

     Vejle’s name comes from an Old Danish word meaning “ford,” because the city is located at the convergence of the Vejle and Greis Rivers at the head of the Vejle Fjord. In Viking times, area wetlands had to be crossed by the Ravning Bridge, a nearly half-mile wooden structure. Remnants of the bridge which were discovered buried in the ground date back to ca.890-985 AD. It is believed to have been built by Harold Bluetooth and his people, but its purpose is uncertain. Archaeologists’ theories vary from the bridge being built quickly for troop transport to more mundane purposes such as allowing traders to transport wares over the swampy area.

Photo via Wiki Commons

     The first known recorded mention of the city dates back to 1256, but archaeological digs in downtown Vejle have discovered that there were homes in the area as far back as 1100. The current St. Nicolai Church building, in the same downtown area, dates to the 13th century. Dedicated to the patron saint of merchants and seafarers, the original church was built in late Romanesque style. Renovations have occurred over the centuries especially after incurring serious damage during the Thirty Years War (1618-1848). Since then there have been several major updates, the most recent being in the 1960s. The church houses many artifacts, including the remains of the Haraldskær Woman, one of the best preserved of the Iron Age bog bodies, on display in a glass-covered sarcophagus.

     During the Middle Ages, Vejle was an important market town. Through the 1500s and into the 1600s, the town experienced prosperity and growth, benefiting from rising exports. Vejle continued to develop along those lines up to the mid-17th century. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the population decreased due to plague and war.

Photo is property of author

     The 1801 census showed that Vejle had approximately 1,300 townspeople. In 1827, a new harbor was established on the fjord, and in the latter part of the 19th century, a railroad station and modern utilities set the town on the path to continued growth. Today, the city’s population is approximately 59,000.

     Although my selection was somewhat serendipitous, Vejle is a noble town near which to situate the fictional ancestral home of Anna and the other characters in the Stryker Legacy series.

 Ann Markim




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  1. Thanks for this fascinating account of the history and setting of Vejie. It does look attractive from your photos and sounds attractive and interesting from your blog. I agree with you about how vital setting can be in fiction.

    1. Thank you, Lindsay. It was fun to finally see the city I had read so much about.

  2. What a beautiful place, and a perfect setting. It does surprise me how often we chose a place, and find that other parts of the story fall into place around that setting. I once set a proposed murder in a city, only to find that the unique in-depth scientific research and innovations in the area were exactly what I needed. There seems to be something creative people can draw on out there!

    1. Yes, sometimes it feels like the muse who inspired the story is helping details fall into place. Writing is so much fun when that happens.

  3. Serendipity. What a place that sounds to be. Wow. Doris