Mounds and Runic Stones, Jelling
Around three hours from Copenhagen and a UNESCO site of historic importance, Jelling is close to Arhus on the Jutland peninsula. It was the focal point of Denmark’s Viking culture in the ninth century when first Danish kings Gorm the Old and his son Harold Bluetooth created a series of monuments at this remote spot. What we see today includes a longboat-shaped stone circle, rune stones, mounds, and a tiny, white limestone church, which marks the conversion of the Vikings from paganism to Christianity. The significance of the site is uncertain; no-one knows for sure whether the mounds mark the burial places of Harold and Gorm, or why the rune stones have both pagan and Christian motifs carved into them. Human remains found under the floor of the church have also not been identified. Despite these ambiguities, Jelling plays a huge part in the Danish psyche; it’s seen as a celebration of Viking culture and the home of a burgeoning Danish royal family. The visitor center has an exhibition tracing the line of descent from Gorm the Old to the present queen, Margrethe II, making Denmark’s royal dynasty the oldest monarchy in the world.