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 Old Norse place name, Sønnebøe, means “The Southern Summer Farm”. The suffix -bøe is not found in historical Danish sources but is relatively common in Norwegian names of summer farms. Ancient Norse split into a western and eastern branch during the Viking Age, so the name has probably been traded since before that time. Sönneböe was a summer farm for a settlement 5 km to the north where there was plenty of winter fodder that was harvested from wetland meadows, mader.
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. The stone walls have recently been dated, indicating that they were built at least 800 years ago and may originally date from 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.