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:
… 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.