The Råbjerg Mile, a natural phenomenon, is the largest migrating sand dune in Northern Europe, with winds moving it 15 to 20 meters (50 to 65 feet) a year. In the past, Skagen’s villagers had to move out of the sand’s way, often taking their homes with them and rebuilding in a new location. As building materials were scarce and expensive, nothing of value could be left in the sand. Nowadays, most of the dunes have been stabilized through plantings; however, the Råbjerg Mile was left free to roam, so that future generations would understand the nature of the challenges caused by drifting sand.
The Sand-Buried Church
The migrating sands of Skagen gave this 14th-Century Parish church its famous epithet: 'Sand-Buried Church'. During the late 1700s, determined parishioners had to dig with shovels to conduct services and eventually they were forced to abandon the church entirely. Today, only the tower remains visible, while the bricks from the nave were reused in other buildings. When Hans Christian Andersen visited in 1859, he quite appropriately called this monument "The Pompeii of Skagen."
The Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse (Rubjerg Knude Fyr) in neighboring Hjørring was first lit on December 27, 1900. Its construction was considered “very fast” for the times: 1 year and 8 months. Although 60 meters (196 feet) above sea level, shifting sands continued to challenge the Rubjerg Knude and the two buildings surrounding it, which had served as a museum and café. The lighthouse ceased to operate in 1968; the museum and café were abandoned in 2002. By 2009, pressure and damage caused by sand forced the removal of the two smaller buildings. It’s expected that the tower will fall into the sea by 2023.