In the year 936
archbishop Unni of Hamburg travels north. King Gorm the Old is then
King of Denmark and his throne is in Jelling. We learned in school
that his is the first name on the list of Danish kings, but in
actual fact there were several before him. They have left traces
like buildings, military victories, and resistance to the church.
kingdom existed long before the time of King Gorm.
the name of King Gorm’s father according to the Nordic Sagas. They
called him called Knud I Hardegon, and he preceded King Gorm.
We know that
Thyra was the name of Gorm’s wife. When she died, he erected a
runic stone for her in her memory.
King Gorm died
in the winter of 958-959. He was buried in the North Mound from
where scans of a piece of wood reveal
the approximate time of his death. We know very little about him.
Gorm´s monument in memory of Thyra
front of the small stone in Jelling
karthi kubl thusi
made these memories
aft thurui kunu sina
after Thyra his wife
back of the small stone in Jelling
On the back is says /Denmark/
the reign of King Gorm quite a different type of language was used, and
a modern Dane would have to listen very carefully to understand but a
runic stone in Jelling reveals the oldest words spoken by a Danish
king. It is the first time that a king calls his country Denmark, but
in Europe it had been known for at least 75 years.
the Great mentioned the name of Denmark for the first time in his
geographical description of northern Europe. Here he referred to
”dene mearc.”He was King of Wessex (871-899), and very much
interested in culture.
of Regino” written around the year 900 in the monastery of Prum near
Cologne mention ”Denimarca” in 884, so the name was well known
when around 950 King Gorm put it on the runic stone he erected for
his late Queen Thyra.
On the small
Jelling stone she is called ”tanmarkar but” – the Pride of
place is unknown, but a good guess is somewhere within the gigantic
burial area consisting of the church and the two mounds.
The remains of
Gorm were found in the grave chamber beneath Jelling Church.
his stone ”after Thyra.” He calls himself King on the small runic
stone. It was therefore erected after he became King around 934 and
before 958 when he died.
probably first buried in the North Barrow in Jelling. When his son
Harald Blåtand (Harald Bluetooth) was christened around 960, he let
build a wooden church in Jelling and moved his father’s remains
When Gorm was
found beneath the church in 1978, he was removed to the Danish
National Museum for further examination. It was confirmed that he was
about 50 years of age when he died. He had been a tall man for his
time – around 172 centimeters (about 5 foot 7 inches). He had
suffered from rheumatism in the lower part of his vertebral column.
In the year
2000 Gorm was reburied in Jelling Church in a metal box, which was
placed in a concrete chamber in front of the chancel of the church.
Thyra’s Mound (The North
Mound). The place where King Gorm was first buried.
||The grave chamber in Thyra’s Mound where Gorm was buried.
Blåtand moved his father Gorm from Thyra’s Mound into the
grave chamber of the newly built Christian church.
At the restoration of Jelling
Church in 1978-79 the grave chamber was found.
King’s grave is marked by a small silver ribbon today.
Gorm - barrow
burial 958 and later buried here.
On the small
runic stone the words ”Gorm King” form a sort of headline, and the
letters are larger than the rest of the inscription.”Kumler” is in
the plural and means ”remembrance.” There seems to have been more
than one runic stone.
Most likely Thyra
was buried with the runic stone as a sort of headstone, but there is
little or no hope of finding her grave. If it was placed in the
central area, it may be in the present graveyard, but over the
centuries many burials and graves will have erased all traces of Queen
There has been a
lot of speculation as to the original place of the small runic stone.
Maybe on one of the barrows or maybe in its present place? We know
that in 1627 it was used as a seat next to the entrance to the church
itself, and it was placed in its present position around 1639.
Sturlason’s ”The Chronicle of Norwegian Kings” relates that King
Gorm had two sons by Tyri Dannebod. Their names were Knud and Harald.
Knud was handsome and the loveliest of the two. Furthermore he looked
like his mother so he was called ”Knud dane ast” (Knud the delight
and love of the Danes).
King of England, and during his reign Knud and Harald arrived in
England with a large fleet. They conquered Northumbria claiming that
it was their land by right
of inheritance as their parents had owned it. King Adelbrecht and his
huge army fought against them north of Klyfland. Both sides suffered
many dead and wounded. After some time Gorm’s sons continued on to
Skardeborg (Scarborough), and later moved
on to York.
When Knud and
other Danes were taking a swim one day, the enemy attacked with bows
and arrows and Knud was killed. The Danes sailed back home when King
Athelstan raised a large army.
Then follows the
story of how Thyra painted the hall black so that Gorm would
acknowledge his son’s death.
”The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle” the only attack on England between 924
and 942 was the two Olavs’ fight against Athelstan in 937 near
Brunnanburh, where 5 young kings and 7 earls together with numerous
others were killed. Knud and Harald (the sons of Gorm) were probably
in England to help their relative Olaf Sigtryggsøn. It must have been
during this campaign that Knud Dana-ast was killed – either during
the battle or while swimming. Knud had a son of about 10 years of age,
so presumably he was older than Harald.
were in England when the Hedeby Empire started to fall apart. As Gorm
was unable to lead his army, his commander Harde-Gunni took over.
Knud Dana-ast had
a son – Harald – later called Gold-Harald. When the latter grew up
, he claimed half of the kingdom as his paternal inheritance from his
uncle Harald Blåtand
(Harald Bluetooth). According to Tryggvason’s saga Harald Blåtand
answered him, ”No man had claimed from his father Gorm that he was
to be half king of Denmark, nor from his father’s father Hordeknud
nor from Sigurd Ormøye or Regnar Lodbrok.”
In 976 shortly
after this episode Gold-Harald was betrayed and killed at the entrance
to Limfjorden. Had he not been killed, he would surely have inherited
the kingdom from Harald Blåtand, who had no legitimate sons, only
Slegfredsøn (Svend Tveskæg)
by a country girl from the island of Fyn (Funen).
Myth about Thyra Danebod
In the 13th
century the historians Saxo and Svend Aggesen write about the clever,
pretty, and virtuous queen. She is said to have been the one who built
Dannevirke, but historians have refuted that allegtion as it has been
proved that Dannevirke had been built much earlier. She might,
however, have enlarged the rampart.
relate that the German Emperor Otto the First courted Thyra, but for a
whole year she put him off with promises while constructing Dannevirke
so that Otto was unable to conquer the country.
Thyra was said to
be a Christian, and a good example to her son Harald. This could
easily be the explanation why he was kindly disposed to the Christian
church and later christened.
the pride of Denmark (tanmarkar but), the mother of Denmark. These
names symbolize that she was much liked and did her best for Denmark.