A Viking Network Info-sheet:

Dansk /English

Vikings in Horsens

by Keld Jegind

Horsens is an old town and was already mentioned as early as 1070, when the learned scholar Adam finished his historical work "The History of the Hamburg Archbishops" at Bremenn. (1047 - 1074). The work by Adam of Bremen is actually far more extensive than its title might suggest. It contains a wealth of geographical information - not justown was more than 100 years old. Its situation at the narrowest point of the wide and scenic Horsens Fjord was a natural reason for the Vikings to gather here in their time. Already in the stoneage people lived here, a lot of relicts proves that, e.g. huge kitchen-middens and tools and weapons made of flintstone. Surrounded by very fertile land which was ideal for raising cattle, horses and wheat, the settlement was a natural and a central outlet for trade with these goods and probably also for Danish Viking expeditions.

Extensive archaeological excavations in the centre of Horsens in 1991 and 1992 revealed remains dating back to the Vikings have also provided information on the town's subsequent historical development, from the Viking era through the Middle Ages right up to the present. In 1992 Horsens celebrated its 550-year anniversary as a market town.

The Danish king Christoffer of Bavaria (1440 - 1448) gave the town its municipal charter in 1442, but Horsens had already been developing the form suggested by the historic reminders we still can see in the town centre, for centuries. On the market square in the middle of the town excavations revealed lots of Viking remains - pottery, weapons, houses etc. and in the mainstreet several graves were found probably containing slaves buried outside the churchyard. Also the present names of the streets reveals an ancient origin, one of them, Graven, was previously the boundary of the town to the west. It was the site of the ditch or fortification which protected the town from outsiders. Outside Horsens there are many village churches dating back to the 12th and 13th century. E.g Tamdrup church west of Horsens is a fine whitewashed stone church from the time, when Christianity was first introduced to Denmark. The fresco paintings in the church are some of the oldest in the country. The church is best known because of its so-called "gold plates" on the altar - the original plates are no longer kept in the church, but in the National Museum in Copenhagen. Tamdrup has strong relations to the early kings in Jelling (Gorm the Old about 940 and his son Harald Blueteeth dead 985). Maybe Jelling was a strong kingdom in East Jutland and since got the full control over the Danish islands, and seen in that perspective Horsens (i.d. the horse foreland) played a central role as harbour for the early Vikings.

- 14. august 2004 -