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Jelling Mounds, Runic Stones and Church

Jelling Mounds, Runic Stones and Church

The Jelling burial mounds and one of the runic stones are striking examples of pagan Nordic culture, while the other runic stone and the church illustrate the Christianization of the Danish people towards the middle of the 10th century.

Tumulus, pierres runiques et église de Jelling

Les tumulus funéraires et l'une des pierres runiques sont des exemples exceptionnels de la culture païenne nordique, tandis que l'autre pierre runique et l'église rappellent la conversion du peuple danois au christianisme vers le milieu du Xe siècle.

جثوات وصخور اسكندينافية وكنيسة في جيلينغ

تشكّل جثوات القبور وأحد الصخور الاسكندينافيّة أمثلةً استثنائيةً عن الثقافة الملحدة الشماليّة في حين أنّ الصخر الاسكندينافي الآخر والكنيسة يُذكّران باعتناق شعب دانمارك المسيحيّة عند منتصف القرن العاشر.

source: UNESCO/ERI

耶灵墓地、古北欧石刻和教堂

耶灵墓地的坟冢和一个古代北欧文字的石碑是北欧文化中的异教徒文化的典型范例,而其他北欧文字的石碑和教堂则诠释了进入10世纪中期时,丹麦人逐渐基督教化的进程。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Могильные холмы, рунические камни и церковь в Еллинге

Еллингские могильные холмы и один из рунических камней являются яркими примерами языческой культуры северных стран. Другой рунический камень и здание церкви относятся ко времени принятия христианства датчанами в середине X в.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Túmulos, piedras rúnicas e iglesia de Jelling

Los túmulos funerarios y una de las dos piedras rúnicas de este sitio constituyen ejemplos excepcionales de la cultura pagana nórdica, mientras que la segunda piedra rúnica y la iglesia ilustran la conversión del pueblo danés al cristianismo hacia mediados del siglo X.

source: UNESCO/ERI

イェリング墳墓群、ルーン文字石碑群と教会

source: NFUAJ

Grafheuvels, runenstenen en kerken van Jelling

Jelling ligt in centraal Jutland en was een koninklijk monument in de 10e eeuw. De grafheuvels en runenstenen weerspiegelen de heidense Scandinavische cultuur. De grootste runensteen bevat echter ook de oudste Scandinavische afbeelding van Christus. Samen met de kerk illustreert de steen de kerstening van het Deense volk rond de 10e eeuw. Het complex bestaat uit twee afgeplatte heuvels – 70 meter in diameter en 11 meter hoog – nagenoeg identiek qua vorm, grootte en constructie. De runenstenen liggen precies in het midden tussen de heuvels. Er staat ook een kleine eenvoudige kerk van witgekalkte steen, op de plek waar eerder drie houten kerken stonden die door brand werden verwoest.

Source: unesco.nl

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Jelling Mounds, Runic Stones and Church © OUR PLACE
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Located in central Jutland, Jelling was a royal monument during the reigns of Gorm, and his son Harald Bluetooth, in the 10th century, and may possibly pre-date this era. The complex consists of two flat-topped mounds, 70 metres in diameter and up to 11 metres high, which are almost identical in shape and size and construction, being built of turf, carefully stacked in even layers, with the grass side facing downwards. After introducing Christianity into Denmark, and integrating Norway with the country, Harald Bluetooth proclaimed his achievements by erecting a stone between the two mounds and building the first wooden church at Jelling.

The large runic stone is located exactly midway between the two mounds. Its incised inscription, beneath an inscribed interlaced Nordic dragon, reads "King Harald bade this monument be made in memory of Gorm his father and Thyra his mother, that Harald who won for himself all Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christians". On the south-west face is the earliest depiction of Christ in Scandinavia, with an inscription relating to the conversion of the Danes to Christianity between 953 and 965. The original position of an adjacent smaller runic stone is not known. However, the stone has been in its present location since about 1630. Its inscription reads "King Gorm made this monument to his wife Thyra, Denmark's ornament". A small simple church of whitewashed stone is on the site of at least three earlier wooden churches, all of which were destroyed by fire. Excavations in 2006 have revealed evidence of a magnificent palisade surrounding the monument, and parts of a ship setting of unknown dimension.

Marking the beginning of the conversion of the Scandinavian people to Christianity, the Jelling Mounds, runic stones and church are outstanding manifestations of an event of exceptional importance. This transition between pagan and Christian beliefs is vividly illustrated by the successive pagan burial mounds, one pagan runic stone, another commemorating the introduction of Christianity, and the emergence of the church representing Christian predominance. The complex is exceptional in Scandinavia, and the rest of Europe.

Criterion (iii): The Jelling complex, and especially the pagan burial mounds and the two runic stones, are outstanding examples of the pagan Nordic culture.

Integrity

Expressing the value of the property, the Jelling Mounds, Runic Stones and Church collectively provide the three fundamental and significant elements. In 2006, related parts of a palisade, and indications of a much larger ship setting, were excavated. These discoveries are currently being subject to further investigations by the National Museum, and the Museum of Vejle. The setting of the property greatly contributes to its visual integrity. A road to the south and west of the property impacts on this to a degree.

Authenticity

The two large Jelling Mounds have retained their original form. The North mound was constructed over an impressive burial chamber of oak that was cut into an earlier Bronze Age barrow of much smaller dimension. The South mound contains no burial chamber. The National Museum has carried out several scientific excavations, retaining the finds and documentation in its archives. The continuous use of the cemetery and the present church, through its predecessors, extends more than 1000 years back in time.

Changes have been limited to some, inevitable, one thousand years of weathering but this has impacted on the inscriptions on the two Runic Stones and made them highly vulnerable to further erosion.

Protection and management requirements

The Church is protected under the Churches and Churchyards Consolidated Act of 1992. This requires any alteration to it to be approved by the diocesan authorities after consulting the National Museum and the Royal Inspector of Listed State Buildings. Under the same statue, the church is surrounded by a buffer zone of 300m. This prohibits the erection of buildings over 8.5m in height. A conservation order is in force for a distance of 1000m into the area north of Jelling to prevent the erection of any building or forestation, so that an uninterrupted view of the monument from this direction is maintained.

The mounds and the two Runic Stones are protected under the Museum Act. This prohibits any activities that may damage or disturb the monuments, and provides for a buffer zone of 2m around the monument. The Protection of Nature Act provides an additional buffer zone of 100m around the 2m buffer zone.

The Town Plan regulates the development of Jelling and, in 2009, the Town Council of Vejle adopted a plan for the surroundings of the monument. This plan emphasizes the need for moving the present road away from the monument, and for demolishing a number of neighbouring houses in order to establish a proper buffer zone to contain the area surrounded by the palisade.

In order to fulfil the protection of the values and preservation of the site, the Town Council of Vejle cooperates with the Heritage Agency of Denmark and the National Museum in order to implement the plan for the surroundings of the monument. This planned work will begin in 2010 and is due to be completed in 2013.

The management plan for the property will be reviewed in 2010.

In order to protect the Runic Stones from further erosion and keep them in their original position there is an urgent need to provide them with protection from the weather. An architectural competition was initiated in the autumn of 2009 to address this issue. The competition winner was announced during early 2010, and the result may imply construction work that will be fully consulted upon.

An extension of the buffer zone, to strengthen the relationship between the property and its setting, is being planned and this will decisively contribute to the integrated value of the whole monument and its environment. A road near the southern mound will be removed in accordance with the planned buffer zone extension. 

Long Description

The Jelling complex, and especially the pagan burial mounds and the two runic stones, are outstanding examples of the pagan Nordic culture.

Many of the early Danish records relating to the Viking King Gorm and Queen Thyre are recognized by scholars not to be based on reliable tradition. There is no direct evidence that the two large grave-mounds at Jelling were those of the two monarchs. The only irrefutable link is that provided by the two runic stones. Nonetheless, certain facts are incontrovertible. Jelling was a royal manor in the 10th century, during the reign of Gorm and his son Harald Bluetooth. Gorm erected a stone here in memory of his wife Thyre, and the royal couple ruled a realm known as Denmark.

The first wooden church built on the site of the present edifice was the largest of its kind anywhere in Scandinavia. Archaeological evidence suggests that it was built in the later 10th century, during the period around 960 when Harald Bluetooth introduced Christianity into Denmark, as he proclaims on the larger of the two runic stones. A large timber-lined tomb of 10th-century type, containing high-status artefacts, was an integral feature of the design of this first church. The larger of the two runic stones bearing Harald's inscription is located symmetrically between the two burial mounds, which has been shown by archaeological excavation to be its original location. The north mound was constructed over an impressive burial chamber of oak, cut into an earlier Bronze Age barrow of much smaller dimensions. This chamber had been opened before the first excavation took place in 1820. The greater part of its original contents had been removed, but the few remaining items showed that it had been a high-status pagan burial of the mid-10th century. It is uncertain whether this was a single or double burial. The south mound contains no burial chamber. Excavation has revealed that it is built over a stone alignment (possibly a ship-setting of Viking type), precisely orientated towards the Bronze Age barrow underlying the north mound.

The hypothetical reconstruction of the sequence at Jelling is as follows. After the death of Queen Thyre, her husband raised a stone in her memory and laid out a joint funerary monument consisting of two very large mounds. On his death he was buried in the chamber of the north mound, which may already have contained Tyre's remains. After bringing Denmark and Norway together and introducing Christianity into Denmark, their son Harald Bluetooth set up a stone proclaiming his achievements between the two mounds and built an impressive wooden church, in which the remains of his father were reinterred. The two flat-topped mounds are almost identical in shape (a truncated cone) and size. The larger runic stone is located exactly midway between the two mounds. Its inscription reads: 'King Harald bade this monument be made in memory of Gorm his father and Thyre his mother, that Harald who won for himself all Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christians.' Most of the inscription is on the east face of the stone, and is surmounted by a carved depiction of a typical Nordic dragon in interlace ornament. The remainder of the inscription, relating to the Christianization of the Danes between 953 and 965, is on the south-west face, which also bears the earliest depiction of Christ in Scandinavia. Alongside it is the smaller runic stone. This is not in its original position, which is not known; it has been at its present location since about 1630. The inscription reads: 'King Gorm made this monument to his wife Thyre, Denmark's ornament.'

The present church, which archaeological excavation has shown to have been preceded by at least three churches built from wood, all of which were destroyed by fire, is a simple whitewashed structure built from calcareous tufa, an easily quarried local material. Its reconstruction began around 1100, when it consisted of a chancel and nave; the tower at the west end was added in the early 15th century. Mural paintings dating from around 1100 (and thus the earliest in Denmark) came to light on the walls of the chancel in 1874-75.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

Many of the early Danish records relating to the Viking Ring Corm and Queen Thyre are recognized by scholars not to be based on reliable tradition. There is no direct evidence that the two large grave-mounds at Jelling were those of the two monarchs. The only irrefutable link is that provided by the two runic stones.

Nonetheless, certain facts are incontrovertible. Jelling was a Royal manor in the 10th century, during the reign of Corm and his son Harald Bluetooth. Corm erected a stone here in memory of his wife Thyre, and the royal couple ruled a realm known as Denmark.

The first wooden church built on the site of the present edifice was the largest of its kind anywhere in Scandinavia. Archaeological evidence suggests that it was built in the later 10th century, during the period around 960 when Harald Bluetooth introduced Christianity into Denmark, as he proclaims on the larger of the two nmic stones. A large timber-lined tomb of 10th century type, containing high-status artefacts, was an integral feature of the design of this first church.

The larger of the two runic stones bearing Harald's inscription is located symmetrically between the two burial mounds, which has been shown by archaeological excavation to be its original location.

The north mound was constructed over an impressive burial chamber of oak, cut into an earlier Bronze Age barrow of much smaller dimensions. This chamber had been opened before the first excavation took place in 1820. The greater part of its original contents had been removed, but the few remaining items showed that it had been a high-status pagan burial of the mid-10th century. It is uncertain whether this was a single or double burial.

The south mound contains no burial chamber. Excavation has revealed that it is built over a stone alignment (possibly a ship-setting of Viking type), precisely orientated towards the Bronze Age barrow underlying the north mound.

The hypothetical reconstruction of the sequence at Jelling is as follows. After the death of QueenThyne, her husband raised a stone in her memory and laid out a joint funerary monument consisting of two very large mounds. On his death he was buried in the chamber of the north mound, which may already have contained Thyre's remains. After bringing Denmark and Norway together and introducing Christianity into Denmark, their son Harald Bluetooth set up a stone proclaiming his achievements between the two mounds and built an impressive wooden church, in which the remains of his father were re-interred.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation