About the project
In 2008 the National Museum received a generous grant from Bikubenfonden of 23.3 million Danish kroner for the carrying out of “the Jelling Project – a royal monument in a Danish and European perspective” in the years 2008-11.
The transition from paganism to Christianity
The starting point of the project is the Jelling monuments and their unique character. Here in one place is a complex, with individual parts which mark, as well the transition from paganism to Christianity, the establishment of Danish royal power in the Viking Age. The monuments are therefore an obvious starting point for an investigation into the transformation that Danish society went through during the course of the Viking Age and the early medieval period, under strong influence from outside, not least from its neighbours to the south.
Nordic and European perspectives
The contact with the south brought the country not just the Christian church’s world view, but also new social and political structures. Denmark was not isolated during the Viking Age. The project is not only focused upon Jelling and Denmark, but will involve the angles and perspectives of the rest of Scandinavia and Europe. The aim is to explore the basis for the development, which can be traced in Denmark and other parts of Europe, where Christianity established a foothold around the same period. The Holy Roman and Byzantine Empires played an important role in this process. An attempt to understand the Jelling monuments and their age must also closely examine these territories.
In 1994 the monuments at Jelling – the two rune stones erected by Kings Gorm and Harald, the enormous mounds and Jelling Church - were added to UNESCO’s list of the historic monuments of the world which are particularly worthy of preservation. The selection reflects the monuments’ central significance, not only from a Danish perspective, but internationally as one of the most important monuments of the Viking Age. Scholarly interest in the mounuments can be traced back to the end of the 1500s. However, as archaeological investigations during recent years have shown, surprising new additions can still be made to the knowledge we have about the place and the events which took place here.