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Aerial view showing the markers indicating the stones that outlined the ‘ship’
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The Jelling Stone Ship, Palisade and Royal Hall

The excavation of the South Mound in 1941 revealed a number of large stones which were originally thought to mark some sort of enclosure under the mound.

in 2007 Vejle Museum began new excavations around the monuments at Jelling. These excavations revealed a vast palisaded enclosure which covered an area of c. 120,000 square metres. This enclosure contains the Jelling mounds, which themselves overlay a huge stone ship 354 metres in length which corresponds to 1,200 Roman feet. The Roman foot, as Klavs Randsborg1 points out, was the unit used in setting out the Trelleborg ring forts.

The palisade consisted of 1,440m of oak planks, and was of a considerable height which meant that it was visible from a long distance. The whole structure was meant to overawe and impress.

This was necessary as Harald Bluetooth became king at a time when inheritance of the throne was not necessarily a foregone conclusion. Harald needed to show his power and authority.

The excavations have revealed a number of buildings, including an impressive hall adjacent to the gateway and at the prow of the stone ship.

A new visitors centre has been constructed alongside the Jelling site. It features a viewing platform with digital binoculars which enable visitors to see the site as it would have appeared in Viking times.

Aerial view of the complex showing the extend of the enclosure
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Jelling – Excavation of the South Mound in 1941
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Aerial view of the Jelling complex with the visible features and the newly discovered features marked (Bachelor Thesis NB 2012)
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Jelling – Building Under Excavation (Jellingprojectet)
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Jelling – Reconstruction of the Hall
(Illustration: Arkæolog Peter Jensen, Moesgård)
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1. Klavs Randsborg, “King’s Jelling: Gorm & Thyra’s Palace – Harald’s Monument & Grave – Svend’s Cathedral”, Acta Archaeologica 79 (2008) 1-23