In the middle of Hedensted town stands an intriguing Romanesque church dating back to around 1175, adorned with an unusually rich array of details. It boasts exceptional lime paintings and Romanesque stone sculptures on its exterior walls. Excavations beneath the church have revealed evidence of an earlier church dating back to the Viking Age, attesting to the town's significant importance during that period.
Historical church in the heart of Hedensted
Hedensted Church, constructed around 1175, retains a well-preserved core comprising the choir, nave, and apse from that period. However, the porch, tower, and other annexes have undergone several renovations over time. Like many other Danish 12th-century churches, it is constructed from ashlar stones. The facade features partial whitewashing along with large, brown fieldstones. Notably, the church is distinguished by its prominent square-shaped tower.
Embedded within the exterior walls are a series of intricate original Romanesque stone sculptures, visible from the outside. These include, for instance, a feline figure with whiskers and other animals that might be challenging to identify—likely an elk and a wolf. Elsewhere, one can observe a devil and an angel, engaging with a soul scale determining one's passage to heaven or hell. Above the old women's entrance, a hemisphere is depicted. Both the men's and women's entrances exhibit original Romanesque arch gables.
Inside the church, the most remarkable and distinct lime paintings are visible, originating partly from the 12th century and partly from the 16th century. Particularly noteworthy is an original painting in the apse depicting Jesus, surrounded by hovering figures of Peter and Paul.
Another rare sight is an illustration of God seated in the Pulpit in front of a crucified Jesus. The 16th-century paintings on the ceiling and vault are highly decorative, themed with brown trees and plants winding over the white surface.
The ancient Viking church
In 2007-08, the National Museum of Denmark conducted extensive excavations beneath Hedensted Church. Below the church, evidence of an even older wooden church was discovered. Dating back to the 11th century, this wooden church might have had a dual function, considering that Norse gods from the pagan era still held significance at that time. The excavation also unearthed traces of two stone wells from the same period, believed to have been used for Christian baptism, immersing the entire body in water. During this period, not all churches were utilized for baptisms, a practice mostly confined to churches in larger towns.
This discovery strongly suggests that Hedensted was a significant town during the Viking Age. Hedensted developed late as a town, and until the late 1800s, only a few scattered farms surrounded the church. However, its history as a settlement dates back much further.
There have been discussions regarding the meaning of the town name "Hedensted," speculating it might signify "the heathens' place," potentially referencing that era. However, it's more likely that the name derives from the old personal name "Hethin," indicating "Hethin's place."
Visiting Hedensted Church
Hedensted Church is open every day of the year from 9:00 AM to 2:30 PM. Visitors are welcome during this time, except during church services or other religious ceremonies.
Several Historical Attractions The coastal region offers numerous captivating historical attractions, ranging from ancient times to industrial history, museums, architectural marvels, and natural attractions. On this page, you can discover historically intriguing experiences near Horsens, Odder, and Juelsminde.