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Anyone who spends a family holiday in a holiday home in Denmark has the opportunity in Jelling to walk the paths of ancient Danish history. Relics of the past – the rune stones from Jelling – together with the small, enchanting stone church flanked by two huge burial mounds, have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994.
Jelling, which is northwest of Vejle, is Denmark’s most important archaeological site and therefore a must for every history-loving holidaymaker.
The rune stones in front of the church, Thyrastein and Haraldstein, are Europe’s most important monuments from the Viking Age and a very special historical treasure.
Around 1100 this was the political center of Denmark. The name Denmark is mentioned in writing for the first time on the rune stones of Jelling and thus documents the history of the Danish royal family, which is the oldest monarchy in Europe with over 1,000 years.
At first glance, the rune stones appear gray and dreary, but on the second one discovers characters and images that symbolize the transition of the Danish people to Christianity.
In addition to the first written mention of the name Denmark, the smaller of the two stones also features Denmark’s oldest declaration of love, carved in granite. The pagan king Gorm the old had this tomb erected in honor of his wife Thyra. The inscription says: “King Gorm erected this monument for Thyra his wife, the ornament of Denmark”.
Denmark’s baptismal font
The large Jelling stone, also known as the baptismal font of Denmark, was erected by Harald Blauzahn, Gorm’s son. It contains the inscription, “You shall honor your father and mother”. When exactly this stone was erected is not known, but it can be assumed that Harald Blauzahn, who ascended the royal throne at the age of 40 and was baptized in the course of the Christianization of Denmark, placed the order around the year 965.
At this point Harald was at the height of his power and became the country’s first Christian king. He founded the dioceses of Århus, Ribe and Schleswig and thereby gave the impetus for the Christianization of Scandinavia. Through a skilful imperial and church policy, he founded the rise of Denmark to the Nordic empire.
Did you know?
Due to his unification policy of Denmark and Norway, the name Harald Blauzahn was the inspiration for the naming of the wireless computer and cell phone connection technology “Bluetooth”. The Bluetooth logo, which can be seen on all devices that support this technology, consists of the runic symbols for the letters H and B.
The landscape around Jelling is also ideal for hiking and offers a number of interesting excursions to the charming town of Vejle or to Legoland Billund, which is only a few kilometers away.