Jelling Mounds, Runic Stone and Church (1994)
Back to index
||A remarkable site in Jutland, witnessing our past in Viking
Times, is the Jelling Mound, Runic Stones and Church of granite engraved
with runic scriptures, telling about the first Danish king and his
descendants around the beginning of the first millennium.
The site is rightfully considered Denmark's birth certificate and baptismal certificate, and was declared World Cultural Heritage in 1994.
In November 2003 Denmark issued a very nice set of 4 stamps, showing the main stone and various parts of the mound. The stamps were designed by Jacob Kühnel, and engraved by Martin Mörck. Their format is 23.60 x 40.40 mm. The stamps are shown on red background, because of the selvedge on all stamps being partly black/grey, and therefore impossible to scan against a black background.
Thyra's stone – Denmark's birth certificate (4,25)
The DKK 4.25 stamp features the stone monument that Denmark's king, Gorm the Old, raised in memory of his queen, Thyra. The stone must have been erected some time before King Gorm himself died in the year 958, although we do not know precisely when.
The runes carved on the stone read: "King Gorm made this monument to Thyra his wife" and on the back, "The jewel of Denmark". This is the first time the name of Denmark appears in written form, which is why Thyra's stone is also called "Denmark's birth certificate".
The picture at the top of the stamp shows a small part of the giant stone ship setting that still lies beneath the two mounds. The shape of the stone ship is reflected in the stamp's pointed oval motif. At 170 metres, this was the largest stone ship in the world.
Gorm's cup (5,50)
The DKK 5.50 stamp bears the image of a silver cup found in the North Mound when it was excavated in 1820.
The cup is 4.3 cm high, with gilded decorative details and a gilded interior. The beautiful ornamentation on the outside of the cup has given its name to one of the Viking Age's most distinctive aesthetic styles – the Jelling Style. The detail at the top of the stamp shows a fragment of the runic inscription on Thyra's stone.
Harald's stone – Denmark's baptismal certificate (8,50)
The DKK 8.50 stamp shows the great Jelling stone - or, more accurately, King Harald Bluetooth's stone.
Harald Bluetooth erected this stone around the year 965 in memory of his parents, King Gorm and Queen Thyra, and in particular to commemorate the fact that he had converted the Danes to Christianity. The first wooden Christian church was constructed at the site at around the same time. The stone is Denmark's finest runic stone, and the oldest monument to the introduction of Christianity to Denmark. For this reason, it is known as "Denmark's baptismal certificate".
The stone bears runic inscriptions and is decorated on all three sides. The stamp's vignette shows two of the stone's sides: one with a lion and snake, and one with the Christ figure in the branches of the Tree of Life.
The runic text inscribed on all three sides of the stone reads: "King Harald commanded these monuments to be made in memory of Gorm, his father, and of Thyra, his mother - that Harald who won all of Denmark and Norway, and christianized the Danes."
Jelling Church (11,50)
The DKK 11.50 stamp depicts a small part of the church's wall paintings, which have been restored on the basis of drawings of the original frescos. The original paintings were removed in 1875, by which time they were in such a poor condition that they could not be saved.
The frescos reproduced on this stamp come from the east wall of the choir. To the left of the window is a picture of John the Baptist baptising Christ, while on the right is the Wedding at Canaan.
For the 50th anniversary of UNESCO, the Jelling Burial Mounds have been commemorated in such far countries as Grenada (in the Caribbean) and Sierra Leone in Africa. Scans by courtesy of Mr. Søren Rieck (Denmark).
Grenada 1997. 50th anniversary of UNESCO. Church of Jelling.
Sierra Leone 1997. 50th anniversary of UNESCO. Jelling.
In 2000, Queen Margrethe II participated in the consecration of the newly-restored Jelling Church. As part of the restoration, a new red granite floor was laid, decorated with a black inlaid stripe. For part of its length the black stripe is replaced with a silver stripe, indicating where Denmark's King Gorm the Old is buried.
Source: Post Denmark, Philatelic Department.
Other World Heritage Sites in Denmark (on this website). Note, that Ilulissat Icefjord is located in Greenland, and not in Denmark proper. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Denmark-section, for further information about the individual properties.
Back to index
Revised 18 aug 2007