Mårup Kirke is a small church outside of the town of Lønstrup on the far northwest coast of Denmark overlooking the North Sea. Since 1250 until this past year, it sat silently weathering the winds of northern Denmark and defying the erosion of the North Sea.
In 1808, a British frigate on it’s way from England to Gothenburg, Sweden sank in the North Sea off the coast of Denmark. The people of the parish buried the dead in a common grave next to Mårup Kirke.
Today, you can stand on the edge of the graveyard overlooking the North Sea — which used to be its center — lean over the edge, look at the face of the cliff and see bones sticking out.
I was last at Mårup Kirke in July 2007 with my good friend Peter. It would be my last opportunity to visit the church before the kommune started dismantling it and putting it in storage. Like any good American, I remarked that it was sad that the cliffs were eroding, the church would not be there for future generations and the stories of the men buried there would just be washed out to sea.
And like any good Dane, he just shrugged and said, “Well, the coast is eroding here on the west, but it’s building up in the east. Pretty soon, we’ll be able to walk to Sweden.”