The Religious Heritage of Jelling, Roskilde and Christiansfeld

In Denmark HERILIGION will focus on three World Heritage Sites, namely the Roskilde Cathedral,Jelling Mounds, Runic Stones and Church and Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement. An important aspect of these three sites, beyond their historic cultural values, is that they all hold Protestant churches and active religious communities. HERILIGION studies the use, presentation and experience of and at heritage sites in these various parts of presently multi-religious Danish society against the backdrop of the non-separation of Church and State in Denmark.

Roskilde Cathedral was founded in the 12th century was the first Gothic-style cathedral built in brick in Scandinavia. In 1995, it was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site because it fostered the spread of this style throughout Northern Europe, along with its continued additions of porches and chapels until the 19th century. Furthermore, the cathedral is central to Danish history and the Danish royal family, as it has been the official burial grounds of Danish regents and spouses (with few exemptions) since Queen Margrethe was buried here in 1412. As such it is not only a monument of European religious architectural history and its developing styles, but also a landmark of the Danish royal family and Danish history spanning back as far as the Viking Age and early Middle Ages. This heritage clearly fuses religious and secular (royal) authority, while the Cathedral continues to function as a church.

Jelling Mounds, Runic Stones and Church marks the pivotal transition from pagan Nordic (Viking) culture and religion to Christianity in the 10th and 11th centuries. This is commemorated on the largest runic stone in Jelling erected by King Harald Bluetooth between 960 and 985 as it describes his achievement of unifying Denmark and Norway as one kingdom, and the Christianization of the Dan- ish people. Again, this refers to religious heritage, but HERILIGION questions how the Jelling mounds currently sacralize the Danish nation and its Viking ancestry.

Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement was founded in 1773 by the Moravian Brethren (also known as Herrnhuter) in Southern Denmark. The planned urban settlement of about 20 hectares man- ifests the religious and social ethics of the Moravian Church, a Pietist Evangelical Church originating in Herrnhut, Saxony. Centered around the central Church Square the townscape was intended to pro- vide an ideal environment for a life devoted to industry and worship under a benevolent and watchful Christ. Representing a this-worldly mirror of a religious utopia, the town, its buildings and public spaces are still in use by a small minority of Moravians among a majority of non-believers. HERILI- GION studies the paradoxical relations of the Moravians with the World Heritage status, which on one hand revitalized the town and its Moravian character, but on the other hand arguably intruded on its perceived sacred nature.

HERILIGION in Denmark examines how the World Heritage and cultural heritage designations of all three sites affect the social and religious life of the three churches and communities. It studies the intersection between religious values and sentiments of local Christian congregations, on the one hand, and the secular values of state agencies, heritage managers and tourists, on the other. In doing so HERILIGION primarily makes use of ethnographic methods involving heritage managers, clergy, congregation and visitors, in combination with historical and media methods.




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