In Jelling (pronounced yelling), Denmark, there are two large earth mounds, two rocks, a church, and a graveyard.
Of the two earth mounds, one (the North Mound, built 959 CE) was used as a burial mound for King Gorm the Old.
The other is believed to have been created as burial mound for Gorm’s wife, Queen Thyra, although oddly it contains no burial chamber.
Runestone of Gorm, Jelling
The two rocks, which sit between the two earth mounds, are in fact runestones. The older, smaller runestone was erected by King Gorm the Old, first ruler of Denmark, in honour of his wife Thyra.
Runestone of Harald Bluetooth, Jelling
The other runestone, erected by Gorm’s son, Harald Bluetooth, is referred to as Denmark’s baptism certificate, as it marks the conversion of the kingdom from Norse paganism to Christianity. It 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.
The Runestone of Harald Bluetooth features a representation of Jesus Christ standing in a cross position on one side, and a serpent curled around a lion on the other.
Bluetooth wireless technology, incidentally, is named after King Harald Bluetooth – who was called so because of a prominent blue/black tooth in his mouth.
The internationally recognised symbol for bluetooth was created by merging together Harald Bluetooth’s runic initials.
The runestones and burial mounds (and more recent church and graveyard) sit within an enormous symbolic depiction of a ship, marked out with stone, and up to 350 metres in length. Little is known about its origin.
Practical information and how to reach Jelling:
Jelling is a quick 20 minute train trip from the town of Vejle. The Jelling Stones site can be reached by foot from the train station. More transport info here.
If you arrive in the middle of winter as I did expect everything bar one convenience store to be closed.