By Helen Russell
On Skagen’s Grenen Beach, where the Baltic Sea meets the North Sea, you can stand in shallow water to feel the currents merge. If you’re lucky, you might also spot a holestone - or ‘hulsten’ in Danish.
“These are beach stones that have a naturally occurring hole inside them,” explains Hanne Aavang, Skagen tour guide and resident: “Waves wash over them and a pebble will make it’s way through another stone by wearing it down. You find them on coastlines all over the world but in Skagen, it’s a bit special because we have a beach where two seas meet so stones are bashed about more than usual. I’ve never seen so many anywhere else – although you still have to search for them!”
It’s become something of a tradition to walk the beaches of Skagen to find holestones - like you might search for beach glass elsewhere. “Because holestones are pretty rare, they’ve always been thought of as special, lucky even,” says, Hanne. “You might keep one in your pocket for good luck or if you have a few, you can hang them on some string outside your front door to keep away bad spirits and protect your home.” In Skagen, it’s customary to see a stack of these stones hanging from twine or rope in windows and doorways or from the edges of the traditional red-tiled roofs of Denmark’s coastal region.
“It’s very relaxing to look for them on the beach,” says Hanne: “you forget about everything else, all the stresses of life. It’s soothing to feel the smooth stones in your hand and no two are the same – so they really are special.” People collect holestones or give them to loved ones as a gift. “I gave my daughter one that was shaped a little like a heart,” says Hanne: “it’s something very personal and precious and you can keep it with you as a memento of happy times. For me, it’s a wonderful way to connect with nature – wherever you are.”