What are these stones, and why do they seem to be named after canned preserves? The truth is, they’re actually named after the town of Jelling in Denmark, and currently rest in one of Jelling’s churchyards between two large, earthen burial mounds.
These enormous rune stones were carved in the 10th century, during the transition period between traditional Norse paganism and Denmark’s Christianization. Due to the lack of written history for most of Scandinavia’s past, the few inscriptions found on these stones are quite valuable for their historic worth.
The smaller – and older – of the two stones was set up by King Gorm the Old, the last ‘pagan’ king of Denmark, as a memorial for his wife, Queen Thyre. The larger stone was erected by Harold Bluetooth in memory of his own parents, King Gorm and Queen Thyre.
The Jelling stones have a strong association with the establishment of Denmark as a nation, a notion which may have originally come from the inscriptions. The older rune stone reads: “King Gorm made this monument in memory of Thyvre, his wife, Denmark’s salvation”.
The Bluetooth inscription says:
“King Haraldr ordered this monument made in memory of Gormr, his father, and in memory of Thyvre, his mother; that Haraldr who won for himself all of Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christian.”
This stone also has an image of Christ on one side, and a picture of a lion wrapped in a serpent on the other.
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Tomorrow: More fascinating stuff!