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

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19 Comments

  1. Italian Notes 13 September 2011 at 1319 - Reply

    It seems the Jelling stone has been thoroughly cleaned after the vandalistic grafitti attack earlier this year.

  2. Louise 15 September 2011 at 0500 - Reply

    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 15 September 2011 at 0809 - Reply

      @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 at 0832 - Reply

    Interesting article, thank you 🙂

  4. jade 15 September 2011 at 0930 - Reply

    I didn’t know about the Jelling Stone- but I love the engraving and design.

  5. Nancie 15 September 2011 at 0935 - Reply

    Great shots. Can you imagine what it would have taken to do all of that engraving?

  6. Jim 15 September 2011 at 1016 - Reply

    Nice post Sophie and a bit of history to get me more interested in travelling there someday.

  7. Laurel 15 September 2011 at 1532 - Reply

    I was in Denmark last year, but didn’t get the chance to see the Jelling Stones, unfortunately, such an interesting history.

  8. Marie R. 15 September 2011 at 1626 - Reply

    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 15 September 2011 at 1647 - Reply

      @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 at 1655 - Reply

    I love the color on the one in the middle! Really nice pics!

  10. Very interesting. I liked the birth certificates on the rocks!

  11. Leigh 15 September 2011 at 1943 - Reply

    I admire the work that went into all that engraving and your daughter’s energy.

  12. Cathy Sweeney 15 September 2011 at 2134 - Reply

    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.

  13. InsideJourneys 16 September 2011 at 0622 - Reply

    Love the stones. They have ‘personality’

  14. Cheryl 16 September 2011 at 1505 - Reply

    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.

  15. Jenna 16 September 2011 at 1621 - Reply

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

  16. The engravings are very impressive. I thought they had been vandalised with graffiti a couple of years back.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 16 December 2013 at 1636 - Reply

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

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