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King  Gorm the Old and Queen Thyra

? - 958/59             King before 936 - 958/59






Danish Kings, from Gorm the Old to the present Queen Margrethe 2nd















Gorm the Old was son of Hardeknud who was the founder of the jellingdynasti. His year of birth is unknown.

Gorm died in the winter 958/59.
He was buried in Thyras mound in Jelling and got later transferred to the church.

Gorm the Old was married to Queen Thyra.
She was buried in Jelling but her burial place is unknown. Gorm erected a runic stone for her, which is standing by the church in Jelling.

Gorm the Old and Queen Thyra had the children:

Knud Dana Ast, he got killed on a Viking raid.

Harald, later King (Harald Bluetooth)

Gunhild Gormdauther who got married to Erik Blodøkse (Blodaxe), King of Norway.


Queen Thyra
Gipsstatue udført af H.W.Bissen 1853
Kan ses på museet Kongernes Jelling


In the year 936 the archbishop Unni of Hamburg travels to The North, and at that time the king of Denmark is King Gorm the Old (kong Gorm den Gamle) and his throne is in Jelling. We have taught at school that the first name on the list of kings is King Gorm, but there are quite a few kings prior to him and some of them have even left tracks like buildings, military victories and resistance toward the church.
The Danish kingdom exists long before the time of King Gorm. As to the Nordic Sagas the name of Gorm The Olds father was Hardeknud. (Knud I Hardegon), and he was the king before Gorm. We know that the name of Gorms wife was Thyra, and when she died Gorm erected a runic stone for her. From scanning of a piece of wood from the grave-chamber of The North-mound we know that Gorm died in the winter of 958-959, but otherwise we know very little about him.

Gorm´s monument in memory of Thyra

The front of the small stone in Jelling

kurmur kunukr

karthi kubl thusi

aft thurui kunu sina

tanmarkar but

"Gorm king made these memories after Thyra his wife Denmarks ornament

During the time of King Gorm quite a different type of language was used and a modern Dane would have to listen very carefully to understand but a few words.


The back of the small stone in Jelling
On the back is says /Denmark/


The small runic-stone in Jelling shows the oldest words known from a Danish king. It is the first time in Denmark that the name of the country is used, but in Europe it has been known for at least 75 years. The geography-book of king Alfred the Great is the first place to mention the name Denmark. Alfred, who was king of Wessex 871-899, was a very culturally interested
king, and he produced a geographical description of northern Europe mentioning "dene mearc" as the Danish area. The annals of Reginos written around the year 900 in the monastery of Prum near Cologne mentions "Denimarca" in the year 884, so the name was well known when Gorm around the year 950 put it on the monument for his queen Thyra.
Gorm died in the winter of 958-59. When Thyra Danebod died we do not know, but she died before Gorm.
On the small Jelling stone she is mentioned as "tanmarkar but The Pride of Denmark". We do not know where Thyra is buried, a guess could be that the gigantic stone ship is a monument for The Queen Thyra, and that she is buried at that place. The remains of Gorm were found in the grave chamber beneath Jelling Church. Gorm erected his stone "after Thyra". Then she must
have died before him, but probably not long before him, if they have been of the same age. He mentions himself as king on the small runic stone, so it must have been erected after Gorm became king about 934 and before 958, when Gorm died himself. Gorm has probably first been buried in the North Mound in Jelling, and after his son Harald Blåtand (Harald Bluetooth) had been christened about 969, Harald let build a wooden church in Jelling, and moved Gorms body to the church. When Gorm was found beneath the church in 1978 he was removed to
Nationalmuseet for further examinations. The examinations confirmed that Gorm was about 50 years old when he died. He had been 172 cm high, which was a considerable height at that time. He suffered from rheumatism in the lower part of the vertebral column.
In the year 2000 Gorm was reburied in Jelling Church.
Gorm was placed in an metal box and placed in a concrete chamber in front of the chorus in the church.


Thyras mound.
The place where King Gorm first was buried.



The grave chamber in Thyras mound
Where Gorm was high seated.



Harald Blåtand moved his father, Gorm from Thyras mound , into the grave
chamber beneath the new build christen church.


At the restoration of Jelling Church 1978-79


The grave for the king is to day marked
with a cart


King Gorm high seated and later buried here


The words "Gorm King" are almost like a headline but in larger writing than the rest of the inscriptions. "Kumler" is in the plural form and means remembrance so there must have been more than one runic-stone.
Most likely Thyra was buried with the runic-stone as a sort of tombstone, but unfortunately there is only little or no hope of finding her grave. If it was placed in the central area it is perhaps in the present graveyard, but many graves have - during the years - erased all traces of queen Thyra.
There has been a lot of speculation as to the original place of the small runic-stone. Maybe on one of the mounds or maybe at its present place. We know that in 1627 the stone was next to the church entrance - used as a seat, and that no later than 1639 it was returned to the present position.

It tells in Snorri Sturlasons "Norske Kongers Krønike" that King Gorm had two sons together with Tyri Danebod whose names was Knud and Harald. Knud was handy and the youngest of the two and looked like his mother so he was called Knud dane ast (Knud the Danes delight and love).

Adelbrecht was king in England, and in his time Knud and Harald, the sons of Gorm of Denmark, came with a large fleet to England and conquered Northumbria, saying that it was their heir, and which their parents had owned. King Adelbrecht forth against them with a huge army and meet them north of Klyfland. There were many dead and wounded on both sides.
After some time Gorms sons went up to Skardeborg (Scarborough), which is saturated east of York and further on to York. When Knud and other Danes are swimming, the enemy uses bow and arrow and Knud is killed. When King Athelstan comes with a large army, the Danes sail back home. Then follows the story of how Thyra paints the houses black so that Gorm says that his son Knud is dead.

As per "Ulsterannalerne" a son of Ailche plundered in the years 921-927 at the south, west and north coast of Ireland. A note says that Ailche was also known under the name of Tamar or Gomo Old. If this is correct, Knud Dana ast has been Viking in Ireland.
Harald son of Gorm was killed in 986-987. He is old, but dies not from old age, so he is probably born about 915.
As per "The Angelsaxiske Krønike" the only attack on England between the year 924 and 942 is the two Olav´s fight against Athelstan in 937, which turns out to be the battle at Brunnanburh, where 5 young kings and 7 earls together with uncountable others are killed. Knud and Harald sons of Gorm are probably in England to help their relative Olaf Sigtryggsøn. It must have been in this campain Knud Dana-ast were killed, either during the battle or while swimming. Knud has a son, so he must have been about 10 years older than Harald.

Gorms sons are just in England at the time when Hedeby-empire is weakening. As the old Gorm is not able to lead the army, his commander Harde-Gunni must do so.
Knud Dana-ast has a son, his name is Harald, later called Gold-Harald. When Gold-Harald had grown up, he claimed from his uncle Harald Blåtand half of the kingdom as inhertance from his father. As per Tryggvasons saga, Harald Blåtand (Harald Bluetooth) answers him: No man had claimed from his father Gorm that he should be half king of Denmark, nor not from his fathers father Hardeknud or Sigurd Ormøye or Regner Lodbrok.
Gold-Harald was shortly after killed by deceit at the entrance to Limfjorden 976. Had Gold-Harald not been killed, he had surely inherited the kingdom after Harald Blåtand, because Harald Blåtand had no legitimate sons, only Slegfredsøn with a country daughter from the island of Fuen, Svend(Tveskæg).


The Myth about Thyra Danebod

The historian Saxo and Svend Aggesen Write in the 1200-years about the clever, pretty and virtuous queen. She is said to be the one, who build Dannevirke, but that the historians have denied, as it has been proven that Dannevirke has been build a long time before. In stead it could have been an enlargement of the rampart.
The historians tell that the German emperor Otto The I courted Thyra, but she gave him no answer for a year, and in the meantime she had Dannevirke erected, so that emperor Otto was not able to conquer the country.
It was also told that Thyra was the christen, who has been a good example for her son Harald. It could easily be the explanation why he was kindly disposed toward the christen church and later was christened.
Thyra Danebod, the pride of Denmark, tanmarkar but, the mother to Denmark.
Names which symbolize that she was very much liked, and that she did her best for Denmark.

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