Place of Worship of Jelling (World Heritage)

By | September 6, 2021

To the east of Jutland you will find the small church and rune stones of Jelling, which are flanked by two large burial mounds from the 10th century. Even if the royal court has not yet been found, it is assumed that Jelling was the residence of King Gorm the Elder and his wife Tyra Danebod in the time of the Vikings.

Jelling cult site: facts

Official title: Jelling burial mounds, runes and church
Cultural monument: Runestone with a dedication from King Gorms to his wife Thyra and the 2.40 m high rune stone, a memorial stone by Harald Blauzahn for his parents Gorm and Thyra; the Romanesque church of Jelling, flanked by 2 burial mounds with a diameter of 62 and 70 m; the rune stones on the middle of the line connecting the burial mounds
Continent: Europe
Country: Denmark, Jutland
Location: Jelling, northwest of Vejle
Appointment: 1994
Meaning: Testimony to the transition from pagan to Christianized Denmark

Jelling place of worship: history

around 936 Runestone from the time of Gorms the Elder, the progenitor of the Danish rulers who were in office until 1375
958/59 Plant of the burial mounds
960 Baptism of Harald Blauzahn
around 983 Runestone from the time of Harald Blauzahn
1018-35 Rule of the baptized King Canute the Great
around 1100 current church building
around 1630 Installation of the memorial stone for King Gorm at the place where it was found today
1820 When the well deepens, discovery of the burial chamber in Thyras Hill (northern burial mound)
1875 the formerly oldest frescoes in the church replaced by copies
2010 Excavations in the choir of the church and on the adjacent site

Stone baptism certificate in Jutland

The Viking King Gorm the Old secured a permanent place in the history of Denmark when he erected a memorial to his beloved wife Thyra after her death. The runic inscription on this stone reads: “King Gorm had this tomb erected for his wife Thyra, Denmark’s ornament”. The inscription is the oldest evidence of the name Denmark to this day, and its small kingdom with the seat of power in Jelling is considered the cradle of the Danish kingdom. Check baglib to see Denmark Travel Information.

Gorm’s son Harald Blauzahn secured greater fame when he united the small Danish kingdoms into one large empire under his rule and conquered the south of Norway and Sweden for this new empire. After he was baptized, he gave orders that all of his subjects should also adopt the Christian faith.

He had the larger of the two rune stones set up in front of Jelling Kirke in honor of his parents. This richly decorated boulder is considered the country’s baptismal certificate in two ways, because the runic inscription proves both the founding of the empire and the Christianization of the country: »Harald had this tombstone erected for his father Gorm and his mother Thyra, Harald, the whole of Denmark and Norway united and made the Danes into Christians. ”

The two artificial hills to the right and left of the Romanesque church are still a mystery today. During their investigations, archaeologists found a two-part burial chamber in the northern hill, which had obviously been carefully opened and closed again a long time ago. Today it is considered certain that King Gorm and his wife Thyra were laid to rest in it, but that their son, who converted to Christianity, would have his parents reburied in the church, a wooden predecessor of the Romanesque church that still exists today from around 1100, made. During excavations under the choir of this Romanesque church, the skeleton of a man around fifty years old was found who – as one can deduce from the arrangement of the bones – had been reburied here.

The whereabouts of Gorm’s wife Thyra remains a mystery to this day. Her remains have not yet been found, not even in the southern hill, which contains neither a burial chamber nor any other evidence of burial. The mound only covers the remains of a large, boat-shaped stone setting to mark a grave. The Danish King Frederik VII was particularly interested in this hill in the second half of the 19th century and hoped to find an untouched royal tomb in it. However, his hopes were dashed.

For centuries, King Gorm’s memorial stone was at the armory of the church. It was only erected at its current location around 1630. The large rune stone, on the other hand, is almost certainly in its original place. In addition to the runic text, there are two expressive depictions on two sides of this boulder: on one side a figure of Christ with outspread blessing arms – the oldest depiction of this kind in Denmark – and on the other side a lion with a snake.

King Harald Blauzahn, who moved his seat of power to Roskilde on the island of Zealand and was buried there, wanted to pay homage to his parents by transferring his parents’ mortal covers from a pagan barrow to a Christian church. However, before the stone church was built, as we know from recent excavations, there were three wooden churches on the site of today’s Romanesque church, all of which fell victim to large fires. The excavations around the church have not yet been completed and some secrets remain open. However, the latest research already shows that the archaeological site in Jelling was larger and more important than previously thought.

Place of Worship of Jelling (World Heritage)