The herring fence of Kappeln

Der Heringszaun in Kappeln

Kappeln was first mentioned in 1357, in times of when Seamen hid from pirates and the rough sea in the Schlei.
Due to the many merchant ships and fishing the city won high renown in the early middle ages.
The Herring fence is over 500 years old and the last fully functional of its kind all over Europe. On the so called “Dankswerthschen” map of the Schlei from 1648 there are recorded 38 herring fences, which were located between Schleimünde and Arnis. These fences were owned by local royal manors in Olpenitz, Oehe and the surrounding areas. Workers as well as peon were often paid with herring and the local priest was even allowed to take herring for free.
The function of the fences didn’t change a lot. The fences are being digged into the bottom of the Schlei in an acute angle and in a position where the most herring swim across.
Most of the fish swim across in the end of March or the beginning of April and become entangled in the Herring fence.

Der Heringszaun in Kappeln

As a result of the increasing road constructions and maritime traffic through the Schlei, the fishing in the region became more and more meaningless. In 1830 there were only 19 herring fences left and in 1905 the last fence of Buckhagen was taken down.
A lack of money in the city of Kappeln did not allow them to take its fence down. It was just too expensive. For years nobody cared about the fence, which became more and more dilapidated.
Eventually the “Verschönerungsverein” started to look after the old Herring fence. The financial means are taken from the celebrities bet on the first day of the „Heringstage“ and also from donations. The celebrities have to estimate how many herring are being caught. The celebrities who are best in guessing win the bet and become the herring king and queen.