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Danish units of measurement

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Title: Danish units of measurement  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Metrication, Postage stamps and postal history of the Faroe Islands, Ole Rømer, N-body units, Maltese units of measurement
Collection: Customary Units of Measurement, Units of Measurement by Country
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Danish units of measurement

The Danes started with a system of units based on a Greek pous ("foot") of 308.4 millimetres (1.012 ft) which they picked up through trade in the late Bronze Age/early Iron Age. Some early standards of measure can be recovered from measured drawings made of the 52.5-foot-long (16.0 m) Hjortspring boat, which though dating to the early Iron Age exemplifies plank-built vessels of the late Bronze Age and the 82-foot-long (25 m) Nydam ship. Thwarts are typically spaced about 3 fod apart. From May 1, 1683, King Christian V of Denmark introduced an office to oversee weights and measures, a justervæsen, first led by Ole Rømer. The definition of the alen was set to 2 Rhine feet. Rømer later discovered that differing standards for the Rhine foot existed, and in 1698 an iron Copenhagen standard was made. A pendulum definition for the foot was first suggested by Rømer, introduced in 1820, and changed in 1835. The metric system was introduced in 1907.


  • Length 1
  • Volume 2
  • Weight 3
  • Miscellaneous 4
  • See also 5


See also Danish rute (rod)
  • mil – Danish mile. Towards the end of the 17th century, Ole Rømer, Gerardus Mercator and other contemporaries of the great Dutch cartographer Thisus began following Claudius Ptolemy in connecting the mile to the great circle of the earth, and Roemer defined it as 12,000 alen. This definition was adopted in 1816 as the Prussian Meile. The coordinated definition from 1835 was 7.532 km. Earlier, there were many variants, the most commonplace the Sjællandsk miil of 17,600 alen or 11.13 km (6.92 mi).
  • palmepalm, for circumference, 8.86 cm (3.49 in)
  • alenell, 2 fod
  • fodfoot, about 313.85 mm (12.356 inches) in most recent usage. Defined as a Rheinfuss 314.07 mm (12.365 inches) from 1683, before that 314.1 mm (12.366 in) with variations.
  • rut – 5026 mm, 16 fod.
  • kvarter – quarter, 1/4 alen
  • tomme – thumb (inch), 1/12 fod
  • linieline, 1/12 tomme
  • skrupelscruple, 1/12 linie


  • potte – pot, from 1683 1/32 fod³, about in 19th and 20th centuries
  • smørtønde – barrel of butter, from 1683, 136 potter
  • korntønde – barrel of corn (grain), from 1683 144 potter
unit relation to previous metric value Imperial Value
potte 966 ml 2.04 Pt


  • pund – pound, from 1683 the weight of 1/62 fod³ of water, 499.75 g (1.1 lb)


  • dusin – dozen, 12
  • snes – score, 20
  • ol – 4 snese, 80
  • gros – gross, 144

See also

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