church in Jelling, which is placed between the two large mounds, has
been build of chalkstone. It has been build about the year 1100.
Before this church there has on the same location been three wooden
churches, of which the first was build in the period of Harald
Bluetooth. The size of the first wooden church was 14 x 30 meters, and
therefore somewhat larger than the present church, and it is
considerably larger than other wooden churches, from which are found
The present stone church had a tower added in the years of 1400.
A part of the church burned in 1679, but was rebuild, and since a
weapon house has been added, which possibly has given cause for moving
of the small runic stone.
picture of Jelling Church, about 1640.
In the church's choir you can
find the oldest chalk paintings in the country. They have been hidden
by crossbows, but in 1874 a part of the choir bows fell down, and then
they discovered traces of old chalk paintings.
At a restoration of the brickwork in 1978-1979 new possibilities for
excavations and examinations occurred . They were lead by Knud Krogh.
By these restorations they found tracks from the two previous wooden
buildings as pole holes, which they had also found at the earlier
excavations. But furthermore they also found pole holes from a third
wooden building. The present church of stone has thus in the past been
three wooden buildings, of which the first has been the largest. Even
if they have not yet excavated the whole area, they can calculate,
that this first wooden church has been considerably larger than the
present stone church. That is quite amazing, because at other places,
where they have found remains from earlier wooden churches, they have
always been smaller than the stone churches, which have succeeded
them. As it is not the case in Jelling, it can be because the town in
the years between had lost its importance as a
vital placed governmental town.
North of the center line of the first wooden building they found in
the ground a grave chamber, which was 4 meters long and 2,6 meters
wide. This grave chamber is build at the same time as the first wooden
building. The chamber is finished and closed, then it is cowered with
a lay of clay, which the floor of the wooden building is placed on.
The grave of the king below Jelling Church.
As the building of the grave chamber has taken place at the same time
as the wooden church has been build, then it is a proof of the fact,
that the first wooden building has not been a heathen house, but a
church. They have in the layer of clay found remains of burning, and
in those they have found tracks from bronze. They think that it may be
remains from a melted church bell. All three churches is believed to
have burned down before the stone church was build.
main grave below Jelling church
In this grave chamber they found
remains of a dead person on the wooden floor. It looks like the
deceased first has been buried at another place and thereafter moved
to this grave chamber, because the bones were spread out, and two big
bones were missing (right over arm and right shinbone). The skeleton
parts are believed to come from one single person, a male with sizable
bones. The dead person is believed to have been about 50 years old
and has been 177 cm tall.
Furthermore they found in the grave chamber about 500 small gold
spirals, which probably came from some kind of textile, which has been
embroidered with a thin gold thread. They also found two gilded silver
ornaments. By closer examinations it turned up that some details in
the muster of the ornaments are the so called Jelling-style, which is
also found at the silver cup, which was found in the grave chamber in
the North Mound.
It looks like it is king Gorm the Old. Without doubt he was buried in
the North Mound, when he died. Then Harald Bluetooth erected the large
runic stone as a remembrance. When Harald converted to Christianity
and built a church in Jelling, it would have been naturally to move
the remains of Gorm to this church. Perhaps because Harald in this way
wanted to make clear that he had accepted Christianity. And the grave
chamber in the North Mound looks like the buried person has been
removed from there.
The story told short.
At the times of Harald Bluetooth`s the first church in wood was build
in Jelling. Beneath the church floor right in front of the choir bow
was formed a grave chamber made of oak wood. In here lay the remnants
of a 177 cm tall male, about 50 years old. The skeleton was not
complete, and the bones in the grave were placed without natural
grouping. The explanation must be so, that the deceased at first was
buried at another place, and then later removed to the new grave in
from the grave of the king.
silver furnishings from a belt lay close to the dead person. These
furnishings are decorated with animal and bird heads, which is typical
for the 900-years. The style is the same as the cups and the figures
of the birds from the empty grave in the North Mound. The similarities
are seen in the technique and the details of the decoration, among
other things in the heads of the animals, which have a characteristic
curl by the snout.
two graves must have been build within some few years, the chamber in
The North Mound probably in the winter of 958-959, and the chamber
beneath the floor of the church at the same time as they build the
church after the conversion of Harald Bluetooth. The short distance
between the two graves and the similarities between the items from the
mound and the furnishing from the church indicates that the same
family was behind both funerals.
dead person lay in the beginning in The North Mound. Moving of the
deceased can have been done at the initiative of Harald Bluetooth as
to give the deceased, the first king in the family, a new funeral
after the rituals of The Christian Church, and by that link together
the power of the king and the new strong belief. The inspiration to
this the king may have become from abroad, where prominent persons,
like the German Emperor Otto The Ist`s own father was buried in a
Millennium in Jelling.
Denmark celebrated officially
the millennium in Jelling on the 3rd December 2000. Then the church
was reopened after a significant new decoration. The event took place
at a millennium service at which Her Majesty Queen Margrethe and
Premier minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen and many representatives from
the government attended.
The new decoration covers the inside of the whole church. A new floor
established in red, Swedish granite with black decoration, and a
stripe where the chamber grave and thus where Gorm the Old is buried.
Gorm the Old has returned to the chamber grave after 23 years at the
National Museum. Gorm the Old was found in the chamber grave during
restoration in 1978.
The decoration consist of new benches, alter and kneeler . To the
south and east new decorations of the church's windows has been
fulfilled, and the lightning in the church consist of 60 smaller
lamps. The organ of the church has become a new place, and two new
tones have been added. The colors in the church correspond to the
existing chalk paintings. The decoration of Jelling Church has been
conducted by the artist Jørn Larsen.