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7 apr 2022 - 18 dec 2022

The Vikings' eastern connections, and the enormous gold treasure hoard from Vindelev, played the main roles in the exhibition 'Power and gold - Vikings in the east'.

The Vindelev treasure hoard with its saucer-sized gold medallions made headlines all over the world in september 2021. In 2022 it was exhibited in Vejle, Denmark.

The Vejle Museums exhibited the magnificent find and told the story of the prelude to the Viking Age and Harald Bluetooth's alliances in present-day Poland.

A new look at the Viking kings' power base

"The stories of the Vikings' pillaging raids in England have been told countless times. We want to tell the story in depth and explore the fascinating cultural encounters and alliances that created the Danish Viking kings' power base" says Charlotta Lindblom, Archaeologist and Curator at the Vejle Museums and continues:

"The upcoming exhibition in Vejle shows the very latest knowledge about the run-up to the Viking Age as well as Harald Bluetooth's eastern connections. These connections are shown in the exhibition's many fantastic finds from Denmark and Poland."

This combined narrative of Harald Bluetooth's power is told in the forthcoming exhibition in Vejle.

Alliances and marriages

Harald Bluetooth secured his legacy by carving his name in the large Jelling runestone and by building a number of the most impressive structures in Danish history: the Ravning bridge, the palisade around Jelling and numerous ring forts.

However, few may know that Harald's strength is largely based on close alliances with the rulers of present-day Poland.

Harald Bluetooth married a Slavic princess, Tova, to seal an important alliance, and in Ostrow Lednicki impressive structures have been found, which may have been the inspiration for Harald's enormous construction projects back home in Denmark.

The story of Harald Bluetooth ends with the struggles against his son Sweyn Forkbeard. A fight that Harald loses when he is shot in the backside with an arrow. He flees and dies shortly after. Not at home in Jelling, but rather, probably somewhere in present-day Poland.

A mythical predecessor's gold

The Viking Age is the culmination of the gradual centralization of power taking place during the Iron Age. The Jelling Dynasty stands on the shoulders of a number of early kings, known only from legends, sparse sources and archaeological finds.

At the beginning of the turbulent and chaotic 500s, there was a great chieftain in Vindelev - only a few kilometres from Jelling, which later became Harald Bluetooth's royal seat.

We know he was rich, and he must have been extremely powerful because of the enormous amounts of gold he possessed.

It was a turbulent time - marked by major changes in society and a series of cataclysmic natural disasters on a global scale. Perhaps as a last hope of reconciliation with the gods, he buried his treasure and sacrificed it to the higher powers.

In the 800s, on the threshold of the Viking Age, the contours of a united Danish kingdom begin to take shape. The aristocratic residence at Erritsø is located on high ground, controlling the sailing route to Hedeby (Haitabu) and further east. The Erritsø hall tells the story of the kings who ruled before Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth.

'Power and gold - Vikings in the east' was exhibited in the Utzon Hall at Vejle Art Museum.

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Vejle Art Museum

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The Rav­ning Bridge

The Ravning Bridge was built in the Viking Age during the reign of King Harold Bluetooth, around the year 980. It measured 760 metres and crossed Vejle River Valley at the widest place, just 10 km south of the royal seat in Jelling.

Visit the Ravning Bridge

The exhibition was developed in collaboration with Moesgaard Museum and built around the latest research. The exhibition was realized by generous grants from Konsul Georg Jorck og Hustru Emma Jorcks fond, Knud Højgaards fond, Augustinusfonden and Aage og Johanne Louis-Hansens fond.