The Jelling Stones: Denmark’s birth certificate

On my must-see list for this trip were Denmark’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of these, the 10th century Jelling Stones – or  Jelling Mounds, Church and Runic Stones – hail from the time when Viking king Harald Bluetooth ditched the Norse gods for Christendom.

The Jelling Stones site has two carved rune stones: King Gorm was responsible for the oldest and smaller of the two:

Jelling Stones, Denmark

… and Gorm’s son Harald Bluetooth, for the larger, pictured below from the front and back:

Harald’s stone reads: King Haraldr ordered this monument made in memory of Gormr, his father, and in memory of Thyrvé, his mother; that Haraldr who won for himself all of Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christian.

This, in fact, is Denmark’s christening certificate (today, we’d call it birth certificate).

Integrated into the World Heritage Site are also the surrounding grave mounds as well as Jelling Church.

The present church is relatively new, from about 1100 AD. Three wooden churches preceded it, the original one erected by Bluetooth himself. They all burned down.

Just as interesting as these ancient monuments – and perhaps even more evocative – is a walk around Jelling cemetery. For a long time, I stand in front of the grave of a 6-year-old boy, beautifully decorated with pine cones and Schleich animals.

Meanwhile, my 7-year-old practices running on mounds.
Jelling Mounds

19 Responses to “The Jelling Stones: Denmark’s birth certificate”

  1. Italian Notes 13 September 2011 1319 #

    It seems the Jelling stone has been thoroughly cleaned after the vandalistic grafitti attack earlier this year.
    Italian Notes recently posted..Reading the ancient stones in Agrigento

  2. Louise 15 September 2011 0500 #

    This is very interesting, and a birth certificate you can never lose, I suppose. Apart from Copenhagen, I know embarrassingly little of Denmark. Is this on the same island as Copenhagen?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 September 2011 0809 #

      @Louise – No, Jelling is on the Jutland peninsula, about halfway down towards Germany. Heaps of other interesting things to see and do in the area as well – there’s a beautiful Lion Park, and of course the original Legoland, little villages, beautiful beaches and more. Denmark does have quite a lot to offer, despite being so small.

  3. Muza-chan 15 September 2011 0832 #

    Interesting article, thank you :)
    Muza-chan recently posted..A Japanese Song per Day: Alan – Natsukashii Mirai

  4. jade 15 September 2011 0930 #

    I didn’t know about the Jelling Stone- but I love the engraving and design.
    jade recently posted..China’s Forbidden, Unfinished Crystal Palace

  5. Nancie 15 September 2011 0935 #

    Great shots. Can you imagine what it would have taken to do all of that engraving?
    Nancie recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday, September 15th, 2011: A Coffee and Tea Kind of Morning in Chiang Mai, Thailand

  6. Jim 15 September 2011 1016 #

    Nice post Sophie and a bit of history to get me more interested in travelling there someday.
    Jim recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday. Fish River Canyon, Namibia: World’s Second Largest.

  7. Laurel 15 September 2011 1532 #

    I was in Denmark last year, but didn’t get the chance to see the Jelling Stones, unfortunately, such an interesting history.
    Laurel recently posted..The Essence of Vancouver in One Photo

  8. Marie R. 15 September 2011 1626 #

    The Scandinavian countries has such an interesting history. I enjoyed this little glimpse of Vikings. (And kids always find something to do, don’t they?)

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 September 2011 1647 #

      @Marie – I know! This one loves to run and do cartwheels and generally do anything but sit still all the time, so that mound was excellent..

  9. Sabrina 15 September 2011 1655 #

    I love the color on the one in the middle! Really nice pics!
    Sabrina recently posted..Vodafone Ad Campaign: Union Jack Cab in London

  10. Very interesting. I liked the birth certificates on the rocks!
    Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday: Salzburg Teasers

  11. Leigh 15 September 2011 1943 #

    I admire the work that went into all that engraving and your daughter’s energy.
    Leigh recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday: The Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island

  12. Cathy Sweeney 15 September 2011 2134 #

    I’d love to see these monuments — the history is so interesting! I’m fascinated by old cemeteries, too. The Jelling cemetery looks beautifully maintained. I understand why you spent time at the grave of that young child — so many thoughts & emotions.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..A San Francisco Treat

  13. InsideJourneys 16 September 2011 0622 #

    Love the stones. They have ‘personality’
    InsideJourneys recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday – Nobel Square

  14. Cheryl 16 September 2011 1505 #

    I’m so close to Denmark but have not visited yet! On my list. I’d love to check out this site. Such an interesting history.
    Cheryl recently posted..Stained Glass Windows At The Sagrada Familia.

  15. Jenna 16 September 2011 1621 #

    Interesting! I’m a history lover, so I think I would love this place, and the old cemetery looks beautiful.

  16. Marine@Green Global Travel 15 December 2013 2342 #

    The engravings are very impressive. I thought they had been vandalised with graffiti a couple of years back.
    Marine@Green Global Travel recently posted..SLOVENIA: Discovering Lake Bled, Slovenia

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 16 December 2013 1636 #

      Yes, they were two or three years ago; with green spray paint.

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