Sönneböe is a small farm in North Scania where Scottish Highland cattle are breed.
The purpose of the animal husbandry is to develop and protect the natural values and cultural history of the place.
Continuous grazing of the old pastures is a prerequisite to achieve this long-term goal.
Keeping cattle at Sönneböe goes a long way back in time. The Danish place name, Sønnebøe, can be translated to “The Southern Enclosure”. The suffix -bøe is not present in Danish or Swedish historical sources but is relatively common in Norwegian solitary farm names and mountain farm names. The Old Norse language was divided into a western and an eastern branch during the Viking age so the Sönneböe name has probably been in use since before this event.
The oldest dry-stone walls on the farm are the remnants of two connected circular enclosures, called the Ring Enclosures, of 250 and 350 meters in diameter respectively. Stone walls forming a funnel are attached to the smaller enclosure. There is evidence that Sønnebøe may have been used as a marketplace for draft animals, oxen. Recent dating of the walls has shown that they were constructed at least 800 years ago with a possible origin in the Roman Iron Age.
The land has been carefully restored in recent decades, something that is still going on. The old cultivated land has been cleared of spruce and unwanted beech so that the approximately 200-year-old oaks have been saved. Highland animals are necessary to maintain the land so that they do not grow again. Restoration of the oldest stone walls is also underway, a painstaking work that requires expert skills that have almost been lost today.
The place has a rich wildlife. Due to the many old deciduous trees and the abundance of dead wood, bird as well as insect species are high in number. The several kilometers of stone walls contribute to the presence of many frogs and toads. The stone walls also give shelter to many insects. A sunny late summer day thousands of solitary bees and bumblebees visiting the shamrocks can be seen on the meadows.