One of ten cathedrals of the Danish National Church, Roskilde Cathedral was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1995, because of its historical influence for the usage of brick in Northern Europe and because the architectural complex represents the evolving architectural styles of European Christian churches for more than 800 years. As one of the most significant church build- ings in Denmark and as the royal burial chamber, the cathedral represents Danish history since the Viking Age.
Legend has it that King Harald Bluetooth (who was pivotal in Jelling as well) built the first wooden church where the cathedral lies today in 985. Bishop Absalon laid the current basis in 1170 for the current brick cathedral built in Gothic style. Since the burial of the Danish ruler Margrethe the 1st in 1412 all Danish regents and spouses (with few exemptions) have been buried in designated chapels and tombs, which today can be seen by visitors and church goers.
Roskilde Cathedral’s composite nature as a World Heritage site, a national and royal heritage site of Denmark and a functioning parish church building within the Danish National Church requires a balancing act for managers and church staff alike. Similar issues can be found in Jelling and Chris- tiansfeld between the religious values of the church constituency rooms on the one hand, and the secular demands of heritage professionals, government agencies and tourists on the other.
Through ethnographic fieldwork and media analysis HERILIGION examines the tension between secular and religious interests, how this plays out in a negotiation of management and space-making. How does a cathedral sustainably function as both a church room for congregants and believers in general, a museum and royal burial chamber for tourists and visitors?