In Jelling, Denmark, Harald Bluetooth had a runestone raised in memory of his parents, King Gorm and Queen Thyra. The monument stands next to the two enormous ship settings (burial mounds), generally thought to be the two rulers’ graves. The runes carved into the stone reads: “King Harald had made these runes after Gorm, his father and after Thyra his mother, the Harald who won Denmark all and Norway and made the Danes Christian” (my translation). At this same location in Jelling stands another runestone. It claims to have been commissioned by Gorm in the memory of his wife, Thyra.

There is some dispute to this claim as most historians and archaeologists think that Thyra outlived Gorm. Some believe that Gorm could have had the stone made before Thyra’s death, though that does not seem to be a common practice at the time. Some suggest that after Thyra’s death, Harald built the burial mounds close together, exhumed his father’s body, and laid it next to his wife. Harald likely commissioned these giant mounds and the runestone to prove his status and power. But I like to think that it is also a symbol of caring, love, and respect for his parents that Harald had them buried next to each other.

Artist: Libbe Sambiria Bjerknæs

A Rune stone created by Harald Bluetooth in memory of his parents, King Gorm and Queen Thyra.

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Credit: Libbe Sambiria Bjerknæs and Open Past

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