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Harald Bluetooth

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July 2016

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The Ravning Bridge (Danish Ravningbroen) is one of the most important archaeological sites in Denmark. It is located in the valley of the River Vejle, around 10km south of the important fortification at Jelling, crossing what is now known as Ravning Enge (Ravning Meadows), a wide valley that was probably characterised by swampland and shallow water in the Viking Age. Parts of the structure were first uncovered in the 1930s, and excavations have been carried out in the 1950s following draining of parts of the valley, in the 1970s and resumed in the 1990s. These excavations revealed wooden posts as well as part of the superstructure of a large bridge constructed of oak - over 5 meters wide, with 280 piers supported by vertical wooden posts. Its total length was around 760m.

Dendrochronological analysis of the wooden structures recovered from the valley revealed that the wood was felled in the year 979 or 980. This places the construction of the bridge towards the end of the reign of Harald Bluetooth (Haraldr blátǫnn Gormsson), who was also responsible for major construction works at Jelling, and the building of at least five ring forts. The Ravning Bridge may thus be interpreted as part of this widespread military construction, and may have been intended to assist in the movement of troops towards the Danevirke and the German border, where Haraldr lost a battle in 974. The bridge would have been capable of moving large numbers of troops quickly across this natural barrier, and also of enabling trade and the movement of goods. It was abandoned by the year 1000, only 15 years or so after the end of Harald's reign.

A section of the bridge has been reconstructed adjacent to the original, and it gives a sense of the scale of the construction. The site can easily be visited from Jelling or Vejle, and there is a small exhibition on site.

For more information about the bridge, and the ongoing investigations by the Nationalmuseet (National Museum) under Dr Peter Pentz, see the project website

The bridge is under the juristiction of VejleMuseeerne (Vejle Museums), and more information about opening times of the exhibition can be found on their website.

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The World-Tree Project

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Archaeological Remains

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The Ravning Bridge (Ravningbroen), Jutland

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