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Mads Kähler Holst

A Palisade Fit for a King: Ideal architecture in King Harald Bluetooth's Jelling

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  • Mads Dengsø Jessen, Nationalmuseet, Denmark
  • Mads Kähler Holst
  • Charlotta Lindblom, Vejle Museum, Denmark
  • Niels Bonde, Nationalmuseet, Denmark
  • Anne Pedersen, Nationalmuseet, Denmark
The royal estate in Viking Age Jelling has long been a theme for both saga and research, but has, nonetheless, lived an elusive life as far as its archaeological remains are concerned. However, recent excavations have revealed the remains of a massive wooden palisade demarcating an area of c. 125,000 m2, encircling a series of buildings and monuments. The impressive structure follows a strict architectural regularity and demonstrates a rigid concept behind the laying out of the monumental parts. The current article focuses on the construction and geometrical principles behind this layout and discusses the detailed biography of the palisade. Furthermore, preserved wood was found during the excavation of a small wetland area, thus permitting a more precise dating of the structure by dendrochronology. The resulting dates firmly link the palisade and the individual monumental parts to the royal family named on the rune stones in Jelling and in particular to the reign of King Harald Bluetooth. In addition to the structure and date of the palisade, the article will present the tentative results from a series of analyses regarding the construction, composition, function and demolition of the palisade and discuss the contemporaneous political scene.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNorwegian Archaeological Review
Pages (from-to)42-64
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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