Gammel Lejre – the ancient royal seat

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The small town of Lejre has a very long history. The current city only consists of a few houses from the 16th and 17th century which might not be considered as very old. But the history of this settlement is much longer.  Some legends have it the town of Lejre dates back to before the birth of Christ making it by far the settlement in Scandinavia which has been continuously inhabited.

Museum at Gemmel Lejre

According to the oldest written history of Denmark made by the chronicler Saxo Gramaticus the town of Lejre was the royal seat of Roar who descended from Skjold who was the founder of the royal dynasty called Skjoldungerne. The current royal family trace its decent back to these legendary kings who might have lived in this ancient city a.

Burial mound in the distance

What is true and what is legend about the old town of Lejre is uncertain. But there has been found several important archeological evidence of the importance of the town. An excavation has revealed a large hall in Gemmel Lejre with a dimension of 48 meters long and 11 meters wide. This giant building is dating back to the 6th century making the settlement a very important town of this era. A building of this size does indicate an important chieftain or possible a king did live in the settlement of Lejre – hence the legend of a royal seat in the town might be true.

Spread across the area around Gammel Lejre you find several large burial mounds which you can go out and have a look at. There is also collection of stones called a skipsætning – or ship setting. This is a traditional form of burial during the Viking era where the chieftains were put in a grave shaped like a Viking ship to rest in eternity.

We go out and have a look at the ancient sight to look at some of the ancient burial mound and the stone setting around the grave. There are only some of the stones left today – during the last millennia many of the stones were taken for other use since such large stones did represent a huge value as building material in ancient days.  There actually used to be more of these graves in the ancient time but some of them have been striped almost completely from their stones.

Another little attraction in the area is the large castle just outside modern Lejre. The castle is a large and pretty castle and right next to the castle is a little forest which probably is part of the estate. I guess there is still some nobility living around the Lejre area – even though there hasn’t been any royalty for centuries.

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