Særslev is what, in technical terminology, is called a desmenial town, or an original village, presumably established between the end of the Viking era and the early Middle Ages. It is mentioned for the first time in an inscription around the year 1349, in the form Særsløff. The prefix is the Old Norse Saiwa-Harier (sea warrior) which, in this case, developed into the form “sæar”. The suffix is “lev”, which presumably means inheritance. The sea warrior’s inheritance.
When you walk through Særslev today you will find numerous impressive houses and buildings. This is due to Særslev’s ”Utzon”, the talented architect Kristen Kristensen, who left his visible mark on Særslev and North Funen, as well as many other places. Kristen Kristensen was originally a skilled joiner, but he also engaged in teaching, farming and politics. However, he is best known as an architect. He designed more than 100 buildings in the years between 1890 and 1930. Houses, villas, schools, farms, dairies, meeting houses, brick works and 1 church. Særslev was, for many years, referred to as a pretty village as many of the houses had small, pretty flower gardens facing the road, something you don’t really find in many other places.
On a hilltop just outside Særslev, there is a small anonymous burial mound. Around this site, during the Middle Ages, there was a holy fountain – Møkilden – which, as the story goes “sprung up from the ground after a virgin was violated there”. The fountain is said to have healing powers and, throughout history, many people have gone on a pilgrimage to the fountain to free themselves of sickness and misfortune. The mound has served as an execution site for criminals and murderers. The last hanging there took place as late as 1810/20.
Was constructed in the 1100s and, during the Catholic era, was dedicated to St. Nickolaus. The church has seen wealthy times and is unusually large for a village church. There is much to indicate that the church was regarded as something peculiar in the Catholic era.
With the holy fountain, “Møkilden”, which lay to the west of the church, it is not improbable that the church, in Catholic times, functioned as a pilgrimage church to which pilgrims streamed.
A cannonball is set in the west gable of the tower. It is said that it was fired at the church by Swedish soldiers, who were positioned on Båring Hill. The pretty, protected manse beside the church was built in 1805 and imbues it with a convivial old village ambience.
North Funen’s (perhaps Denmark’s) most peculiar Pastor
In the year 1743, Peder Jørgensen Aaby became the Pastor in Særslev parish. A position he occupied for a whole 61 years, despite his peculiarities.
Pastor Aaby was a very keen huntsman. He regularly used swear words and profanities (even in church) in between holding fire and brimstone sermons.
He just came right out with things, often to such an extent that the pastor was foaming at the mouth. Once, the Whitsuntide offerings were perhaps a bit too miserly, and in anger he hurled the donations back in the face of the donors, uttering these words: “You Askebøtter and Eskebøtter (Ash pails and Ester pails), you Moderupper and Slagstrupper (people from the surrounding villages of Askeby, Esterbølle, Moderup and Slagstrup) – Here, I marry you, christen your young and cast earth on your departed, and such an offering you proffer me. You will all go to hell, big and small. Parents first, with your children at your heels. And, do you think that your old pastor will be waiting at the gate to greet you? No, for my soul and salvation, he will not!”
One day, the Pastor got lucky with his eel trap. Perhaps because he was busy or wanted the eels for himself, he took the canvas sack into the church with him. During the sermon, the parish clerk discovered the “living” and inappropriate bag and went to remove it when Aaby, in a thundering voice, roared from the pulpit “Leave it alone, damn you” and continued his sermon as though nothing had happened.
There is an abundance of fantastic stories about Pastor Aaby. Inside the church, there is a burial stone set in the wall above Pastor Aaby.