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Pontus Kjermann, 2001

About the work

Midgårdsbrønden (The Midgard Well) is a fountain/sculptural well, acquired by Vejle Municipality and set up in 2001, positioned at the intersection between the pedestrian street in Vejle and Orla Lehmannsgade.

Pontus Kjermann’s water art is a round, low basin. In the middle, a mythical creature, a rearing mix of a horse and a human, sits on a large granite stone. Around the stone there are three distinctive buildings from medieval Vejle: one of the first town halls, St. Nicolai Church and Sønderport. The old town centre is marked in the tiling at the bottom of the basin, and the town centre is surrounded by water. A huge snake, which can be interpreted as the Midgard Serpent, one of the invincible mythical creatures from Norse mythology, is threateningly encircling the town of Vejle.

The snake represents the Midgard Serpent, which lies around Midgard where people live, in this case Vejle. The Midgard Serpent represents evil and therefore written on its body are the years when Vejle has been threatened by war, fire, or other calamities. The snake also represents the streams and water surrounding Vejle. The water can be dangerous, for example in floods, but it has also brought prosperity to the city, among other things through Vejle Watermill and trade.

The stone is a symbol of the two Jelling stones before images and runes were carved into them in the late 900s. These runes are especially important because this is where Denmark is mentioned for the very first time on Danish soil. On Harald’s stone it says that Harald Bluetooth “made the Danes Christian”, and therefore Harald’s stone is also called Denmark’s baptismal certificate. There are no runes or images on the stone in the sculpture because we must imagine it being from before Denmark was born as a nation. On the rest of the pedestrian street there are also references to the Jelling Stone, as its runes have been etched in the paving.

The horse man is Pontus Kjermann’s own fabulous animal that guards the town of Vejle. It is also the symbol of Vejle’s stubbornness to rise again after all the adversity that has hit the town over time. The horse man is thus a symbol of Vejle’s survival as a town. On the original Jelling Stone, there is a picture of the Midgard Serpent in battle with a mythical creature with a horse’s head and human body, just like the Horse Man. Therefore, the sculpture can also be interpreted as a battle between the Horse Man and the Midgard Serpent, who has surrounded the Jelling Stone and spits water on it.

The three lion cubs that ride on fish are the lions from Denmark’s national coat of arms. They have not yet grown up, because the story in the sculpture takes place before Denmark is created. The lion cubs try to keep the Midgard Serpent at a distance and protect the city.


About the artist

Pontus Kjermann was born in Gothenburg in 1954. He went to Denmark to be educated at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts from 1979 to 1985. He made his debut at the Artists’ Autumn Exhibition in 1981 and has since exhibited several acclaimed places. Since 1985, he has been an associate professor at the School of Sculptors, specializing in plaster. In addition, he has performed numerous ornamentation assignments at home and abroad. He is a member of the Artists’ Society and Corner (2004).

  • The years on the snake

  • 1349 and 1350: THE BLACK DEATH

    In 1349 and 1350, the Black Death raged in Denmark and probably also in Vejle. The areas affected lost between a third and a quarter of their population.

  • 1524, 1533 and 1546: FIRE

    The fire in 1524 is the first fire in Vejle that we have information about. It originated in May 1524 and effected “the largest and best part” of the city. We do not know how the fire originated. The citizens at the time assumed that it had originated in Engelbert's barn. Here some careless stable boys should have come to light some straw with a burning candle. We do not know where Engelbert lived, but after the fire, he was accused of playing dice games all night. Gambling was strongly condemned and therefore people believed that the fire was God's punishment.

  • 1585: PLAGUE

    At the outbreak of the plague, about 500 people died in Vejle. Many of the dead were also wealthy citizens, and the survivors could not manage to pay all the taxes to the king without them. Therefore, King Frederik the 2nd exempted Vejle from taxes for the next two years.

  • 1595: FIRE

    The fire in 1595 started in Vejle Watermill and spread to Fiskergade and Søndergade, which burned down completely.

  • 1627, 1628 and 1629: OCCUPATION

    During the Imperial War (1625-29), Vejle was occupied by the soldiers of the great army commander Wallenstein. Many of Vejle's rich citizens hid their valuables by digging them down or throwing them into wells, knowing that the soldiers would plunder the city. Many people also fled the city or lost everything they owned. Merchant Simon Munk, for example, lost all his possessions, 330 pigs, 6 horses and 22 cattle. 600 soldiers were accommodated in Vejle and they fortified both Sct. Nicolai Church and The City Hall. Many of the buildings in Vejle were used as building materials for fortifications. The occupation was harsh for the citizens of Vejle, who were to house the soldiers. For example, Johan Matsen and his wife were beaten by their housed soldiers.

  • 1643-45: OCCUPATION

    During the Torstensson feud (1643-45), Vejle was occupied by Swedish soldiers. Vejle was still affected by the occupation from 1627 to 1629 and again many of Vejle's citizens dug down their precious things and fled the city. The soldiers nevertheless plundered and ravaged the city and they were described as tyrants and barbarians who tormented, abused and exploited the population. When the war was over, Vejle was destroyed.


    To make it harder for enemies to occupy Denmark, it was decided in 1646 to dismantle Vejle. In the previous wars, Denmark had been taken over via Jutland and therefore Jutland and Funen had to be fortified better, so the enemy could not make their way to Zealand. According to the plan, a fortress town was to be built in Jutland, close to the transition to Funen. The town's population was to come from Vejle, which in turn was to be closed down. But Vejle escaped with the horror, as the plans were changed. Instead, the villages of Ullerup, Hannerup and Hyby were closed down.

  • 1657, 1658 and 1659: OCCUPATION

    Vejle was occupied by Swedish troops during the Karl Gustav Wars (1657-58 and 1658-60). We do not know much about the occupation, but it was hard on Vejle. The citizens were to house the soldiers and deliver food to the Swedish commander. He wanted expensive foods like peppers, nutmegs and almonds. When the city was free again, most of the houses in Søndergade, Torvegade and Nørregade had burned down. The other houses were so ruined that no one could live in them.

  • 1680, 1681 and 1783: FLOODS

    Vejle's low location and encirclement of the many streams means that the city has often been flooded. Floods could destroy the houses, furniture and crops that the citizens had and it was therefore a serious matter.

  • 1786: FIRE

    The fire in 1786 began in Nørregade and is one of the largest and most serious ones that has hit Vejle. All of Nørregade burned down and many citizens lost everything they owned.

  • 1849: OCCUPATION

    During the First Schleswig War (1848-50), Vejle was occupied by Prussian soldiers. The citizens were to house the 5,000-6,000 soldiers who came to the city, which was both mentally and physically hard. During the occupation, the chosen County Governor William Stockfleth wrote to his wife that “Residents will soon lack all ability to pay. God grant, it must soon come to an end, for you do not believe what we suffer, less by the immense losses, than by the heavy pressure that rests on our minds.”

  • 1864: OCCUPATOPM

    During the Second Schleswig War (1864), Vejle was occupied by Prussian and Austrian soldiers. The soldiers erected tombs and ramparts to fortify the city, but they did not do the work themselves. Instead, in the middle of the night, they picked up citizens from Vejle's catchment area who were set to do the work. Vejle was occupied for about 8 months.

Kort over Vejle midtby

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