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March 7th 2012

Jelling Runestones

Denmark's birth certificate, reborn

In 950 CE, King Gorm the Old erected a runestone 'in memory of Thyra, his wife, Denmark's adornment'.

15 years later, their son Harald Bluetooth commanded the erection of a second monument to his parents and to 'Harald, who won the whole of Denmark for himself, and Norway, and made the Danes Christian'.

047 years later, under a full moon on a frosty Winter night, the veil was lifted on Denmark's new adornment: climate-controlled protective housing for the Jelling Runestones.

Known as 'Denmark's birth certificate' and bearing the first written record of the word 'Denmark', the monuments are listed alongside Stonehenge and the pyramids as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Over a thousand years of wind, weather, pollution and vandalism later, NOBEL architects found an ingenious way to preserve access for Danes today whilst preserving the monuments themselves for future generations.

'At first glance, the task seemed impossible,' recalls Erik Nobel. 'How could their sense of presence be maintained while still satisfying the functional and technical requirements?'  His solution was striking yet sympathetic bronze-and-glass cases that 'metaphorically hold a hand over the runestones'.

Roblon Avant-garde downlights, hidden in the casing, precisely accentuate the runes and images on the granite. And the 21st-century lighting technology is soundless. So even on a silent Winter's night, it disturbs neither visitors nor the 10th-century Viking royals at rest in their burial mounds.

 Roblon Avant-garde

Jelling Runestones

Architect and designer
Erik Nobel
NOBEL arkitekter


Jørgen Westphal
The Heritage Agency of Denmark

Consulting Engineers
Rambøll Denmark

Photos by
Erik Nobel (top)
Jens Markus Lindhe (bottom)

See more photos at

Jelling Runestones

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