North Mound. Thyra’s Mound
Mound is 8.5 metres tall and 65
metres wide and is made of turf, stone and clay on top of an old
mound from the bronze age. Thyra’s Mound was the first burial
place for Gorm the Old. A
hole was dug into the old mound to constitute a burial chamber,
which was 6.75 metres long, 1.45 metres high, and 2.6 metres wide.
The ground measures 17.5 m2 just like a large room in a house. Logs
of 35-centimetre-thick oak were used. A layer of granite boulders
surrounded the chamber to protect it from grave robbers.
A view into the
floor of the chamber is 1.75 metres above the surface of the ground
outside, and the longitudinal direction is east-west. The floor is
covered with boards. An up-ended board in the centre of the room had
the specialists convinced that two people were buried there. The
scanty grave goods do not prove that. If the skeleton parts found
below the church – assumed to be the remains of Gorm the Old –
have been moved from the burial chamber to the church, there was
only one person in the burial chamber.
was a pond on top of Thyra’s Mound. In 1820 it was drying out,
and the people of Jelling were determined to deal with the
situation. They thought they had to do with a spring that had been
blocked, so they dug a hole 5 metres into the barrow and
found the wooden burial chamber. An opening was made down to the
chamber, and it was discovered that others had been there before
them. The grave had apparently been robbed.
digging set off rumours that gold had been found and then sold
in Vejle. Museum
experts were involved and more things were discovered – the
prize being the “Jelling Beaker”
Belt furnishing in bronze
also pieces of bronze and fittings, some carved wooden things
and some silver nails were excavated. There was a sort of chest
in the chamber, but it broke when touched. It was narrow and was
almost certainly not used as a coffin, but perhaps for grave
Emptied the Mound?
grave goods consisted of only few bits and pieces of great artistic
value, but it was evident that the chamber had been robbed. Some of
the boards in the ceiling of the chamber had been cut into two, and
the pond on top of the mound could be explained by the accumulation
of water after the break-in, and the clay preventing the water from
running out. The pond can be seen in an old drawing from 1591.
several things did not match the theory of the mound being robbed.
There is no doubt that the burial chamber has been opened after the
funeral; the hole in the ceiling proves this. The lack of grave
goods, but also the lack of a body…?! Would the grave robbers have
taken the body with them? You can hardly rob a grave like this in
silence. After having found what is believed to be the remains of
King Gorm in 1978, it is presumed that King Harold – after his
conversion – wanted to give his father a proper Christian funeral,
and therefore he opened the north mound and brought King Gorm’s
body to the main burial chamber below the church in Jelling. This
would also explain why no human skeleton parts have been found in
the chamber. Other findings of clothes and wood show that the
skeleton parts ought to be there, but if there was only one funeral
there and it was a man’s funeral, why is the barrow then called
Thyra’s Mound? A piece of wood including its bark was placed in a
ct-scanner, and results showed that the tree had been cut during the
winter of 958-959, which presumably was the time of King Gorm’s
South Mound, Gorm’s Mound
two mounds on either side of the church are very much alike. The
North mound contained a funeral site – probably that of King
Gorm. The South Mound is empty . It consists of only earth and
turf, and it is not known when it was built. Was it a memorial mound? In 1861 King Frederik VII wanted to find the burial chamber
of King Gorm in the South Mound, but there was nothing there apart
from granite boulders and pieces of wood.