Viking Burial Sites at Lindholm Høje and Jelling

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Lindholm Høje – or in English, Lindholm Hills – is one of the best preserved Viking burial site in Scandinavia and former Viking settlement situated to the north of and overlooking the city of Aalborg in Denmark. The area was severely troubled by sand drift, and around the year 1000, the sand completely covered the burial site, which kept the secrets of Lindholm Høje for over thousand years.

Lindholm Høje has burial sites from both the Nordic Iron Age (dating back to the 5th century) and the Viking Age (around the years 1000 – 1050).  Almost 700 graves and 150 stone ships have been found on the site. Remains of houses, fences and wells have been discovered north of the burial site. This village settlement was a significant centre for trade at the time, indicated by the glassware, gems and Arab coins found at the site.

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The shape and size of the grave stones indicate the status of the buried person. The bigger the stones outline – the more important was the person buried under. Women’s graves can be distinguished by placement of rocks in a circle or oval. Most of the grave stones are in the form of the traditional shape of a boat. These stone ships show the importance that the Vikings placed upon water.

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Jelling is an old and significant historical town in Denmark’s history. During the Viking Age, it served as the royal seat of the first Monarchs of the Kingdom of Denmark. The historical site includes a vast stone ship and two large burial mounds, the Jelling rune stones and Jelling Church. It was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

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The Jelling Viking burial mounds and runic stones are outstanding examples of the ancient Nordic culture. Jelling was a royal manor in the tenth century, during the reign of King Gorm and Queen Tryre. After Queen Tryre’s death, her husband raised a stone for her memory and laid out a joint funerary monument consisting of two large mounds. After his death, King Gorm was buried in the chamber of the north mound, which possibly already contained her wife’s remains.

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The son of the King Gorm and Queen Tryre,  Harald Bluetooth introduced Christianity into Denmark (after uniting Denmark and Norway). He also set up a stone between the two burial mounds proclaiming his achievements and built an impressive wooden church, in which the remains of his father were re-interred.  The present stone church is preceded by at least three churches built from wood – all of which were destroyed by fire.

3 Tips for visitng the Viking burial sites

  • Don’t wear your best shoes at the Lindholm Høje – there are sheep’s poop everywhere…
  • Visit the Viking Museums in Jelling and Aalborg and see also the archaeological findings from the burial sites
  • Interested in Vikings? Visit the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde or go to Ribe – the ancient city of Vikings
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