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Peter Henrichsen, moulding and copying in 1984

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Many early copies exist of the rune stones at Jelling, especially of Harald Bluetooth’s rune stone. However, the quality is variable and some of the copies are based on an existing copy. In 1984 the National Museum had the opportunity to make accurate copies of the two rune stones with the help of a generous donation from Knud Højgaards Fond.

The process was undertaken by conservator Peter Henrichsen in the National Museum’s Conservation Department. To achieve the greatest possible accuracy silicon rubber was used for the mould. However, rubber contains oils and to avoid the oil penetrating into the stones they were first painted with methylcellulose (wallpaper paste). The liquid silicon rubber was then painted all over the surface in an 8-10 mm thick layer. After hardening supporting coatings of epoxy were built up over the rubber – two supporting coatings around the small rune stone and nine, like orange skins, around the large rune stone. In order to achieve stiffness in the supporting coatings plywood ribs were built in. “Fastening buttons” of silicon rubber were made between the rubber mould and the supporting coatings to ensure the correct placement of the parts later on. After the epoxy had hardened the coatings were separated and the rubber moulds were cut up and pulled off. The methylcellulose was then washed off the stones.

Copy shells were built up in the rubber moulds at the workshops of the National Museum’s Conservation Department in Brede. These shells were made of crushed up granite in various colours mixed with epoxy. The substance was painted and filled into in the horizontally placed moulds. It is always difficult to replicate rock’s natural colours and patterning, as the epoxy affects the crushed granite’s natural colour. Therefore several experiments were necessary, before a completely satisfactory result could be achieved. The copy shells were also strengthened with an internal network of plywood ribs, before the shells were assembled into two sets of hollow rune stones.  

The copies have recently proved to be extremely useful as a piece of documentation. During the investigation of the rune stones in 2006-08 light scanning was used to compare the snapshot from 1984 with a 3D light scanning of the original rune stones from 2007. Unfortunately this documented differences that show breakdown of the details on the stones in the last few decades.