Jelling Stone And Legendary Harald ‘Bluetooth’ King Of Denmark – ‘Who Made The Danes Christian’

A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com - Harald Bluetooth was the younger son of Gorm the Old and Queen Thyra. His father, also called Gorm the Languid was the first historically recognized King of Denmark, reigning from c. 936 to his death in c. 958. Harald was also father of Svein Forkbeard, and grandfather of Cnut.

In the early 960s, Harald the Blue Tooth converted to Christianity. | Wikimedia Commons

In the early 960s, Harald the Blue Tooth converted to Christianity.  Wikimedia Commons

The German historian Adam of Bremen mentions that Harald Blåtand was married to Queen Gunhild.
On a runestone standing at Sønder Vissing Church south of Silkeborg, a woman who calls herself Tove describes herself as "Mistivoj's daughter, wife of Harald the Good, Gorm's son", so Harald must have been married twice.

The year of Bluetooth's birth is unknown; however, according to records of his achievements, he was born sometime around 920 AD, according to ancient sources.

Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson was King of Denmark for nearly 30 years, beginning in approximately 958 AD when his brother and favored son of Gorm the Old was killed in England during attacks near Ireland.

During his reign, Bluetooth united the outlying tribes of Denmark. He defended his people from many Norwegian and German incursions while overseeing the completion of vast construction projects that strengthened his country's defenses.

 This 12th century gilt plate from Tamdrup Church in Denmark is the oldest illustration of King Harold Bluetooth's baptism.

This 12th-century gilt plate from Tamdrup Church in Denmark is the oldest illustration of King Harald Bluetooth's baptism.

He proved to be a skilled leader of his nation both on and off the battlefield. Bluetooth is equally known for casting off the Norse pagan traditions and becoming a devout Christian who strove to peacefully convert the people of Denmark during his rule. He also commissioned many important construction projects in his country during his reign.

In Bluetooth's legacy, there are so-called "runestones" – monuments that usually honor the dead and their deeds. He used the very best counselors and artisans for the job. Two people carried out the carving on the stone: the decorations came first, and then the runes were struck by a runic craftsman. It took about a full year to complete the entire job.

Bluetooth wanted to be remembered for some specific achievements; therefore, he erected a runic stone intended to last forever.
He converted to Christianity in 965 and erected a runestone in Jelling with the inscription:

"... Harald who conquered for himself the whole of Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christian."

The Danes were united and Christianized in about 965 by King Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson (c. 935 to c. 986; King of Denmark c. 958 to c. 986 ; King of Norway c. 970 to 986).

The Danes were united and Christianized in about 965 by King Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson (c. 935 to c. 986; King of Denmark c. 958 to c. 986; King of Norway c. 970 to 986).

"There are also two massive burial mounds at Jelling. Apart from a silver goblet, the northern burials had been removed, but excavations in Jelling church in the 1970s located a 10h-century chamber containing a disarticulated male skeleton. It is now believed that the northern mound was erected by Harald c.959, as a memorial to his parents, along with the rune stone." 1

"After his conversion he had them removed to the church and also erected the southern mound, which became a cenotaph memorial to himself. Harald is credited with several massive public works, which should be viewed in the context of Danish conflict with the German Emperor.

Left: A big lion with leaf-and-tendril ornamentation can be seen on King Harold Bluetooth’s great runestone from the 960s in Jelling.; Right: The larger Jelling stone, showing the inscription concerning Harald

Left: A big lion with leaf-and-tendril ornamentation can be seen on King Harald Bluetooth’s great runestone from the 960s in Jelling.; Right: The larger Jelling stone, showing the inscription concerning Harald Bluetooth. 

"In 968, he linked the Danevirke to Hedeby and also extended and rebuilt it with a timber rampart. In 979-80 he built a large bridge over the Vejle river valley at Ravning Enge. The roadway was 720 meters long and 5.5 meters wide; it was supported by more than 1,500 oak timbers and must have been intended as a military road.

In the 980s he built a series of circular fortresses at strategic locations throughout his kingdom - they are named after the example at Trelleborg in Sjrelland, but there are other examples at Fyrkat in central Jutland, Nounebakken on Fyn, and an unfinished one at Aggersborg from the tip of northern Jutland. Each of the forts was constructed to a regular geometric blueprint..." 1

"... Harald who conquered for himself the whole of Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christian."  - Inscription on the Jelling Stone.
The large Jelling stone is Scandinavia's largest and most impressive rune stone, also called "Danmark's Baptism Certificate". It is equipped with Christian symbols, i.a. a figure of Christ and runic writing.

Writing page on the large rune stone:


Haraltr kunukr bath kaurua
Harald konge bød gøre


kubl thausi aft kurm fathur sin
kumler disse efter Gorm fader sin


auk aft thaurui muthur sina sa
og efter Thyra moder sin, den


haraltr ias sar uan tanmaurk
Harald som sig vandt Danmark


ala auk nuruiak
al og Norge


auk tani karthi kristna
og danerne gjorde kristne

This runestone is today considered the most well-known example of runic inscriptions in Denmark. Featuring an easily distinguished image of Christ on the cross, the Jelling Stone erected by Bluetooth is often referred to as the "Baptism Certificate of Denmark," which symbolizes the end of the polytheistic traditions followed by much of the Danish population.

Harald also honored his parents by commissioning a second Jelling Stone, found in the town of Jelling, Denmark.

Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson died of wounds received in an uprising against him in 985 or 986.

Updated on September 28, 2022

Written by A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com Staff Writer

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Tyrell, James. The Vikings

Danmarkskonger

Kings of Denmark