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Masonry expert to clean UNESCO Jelling stone

A conservation officer is to save a UNESCO World Heritage runestone after vandalism.

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A masonry expert from the National Museum travels to Jelling in Jutland today to study and hopefully repair graffiti vandalism against one of Denmark’s three UNESCO World Heritage sites.

It was on Friday night that vandals painted large word ‘Gelwane’ in green paint on the larger of the 10th century Jelling stones, that bears runic inscriptions in which Harald Bluetooth commemorates his parents. It is not clear what the word Gelwane refers to.

Conservation Officer Susanne Trudsø is to study the vandalism and in cooperation with Swedish specialists determine a way to remov the paint without harming one of Denmark’s most famous national heritage monuments.

“We have to try to find something that you can remove graffiti with, without the stone’s patina also being lost. When you remove graffiti, you often see that the graffiti almost comes out as a negative because the area becomes so clean. We want to avoid that,” Trudsø says.

Apart from the graffiti, the stone does not seem to be damaged. The stone was erected by Harold Bluetooth (ca. 935 – 986) to commemorate his parents King Gorm the Old and Thyra Danneblod.

"King Haraldr ordered this monument made in memory of Gormr, his father, and in memory of Thyrvé, his mother; that Haraldr who won for himself all of Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christian,” the stone reads.

The smaller, and older of the two Jelling Stones was erected by King Gorm the Old to commemorate his wife Thyra.

Denmark has three mainland World Heritage sites – the Jelling Mounds, Runic Stones and Church, Kronborg Castle in Elsinore and Roskilde Cathedral. The Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland, which is part of the Danish commonwealth, is also a World Heritage site.

In 2008 UNESCO experts examined the stones to determine their condition and requested the stones be moved to an indoor exhibition hall, or in some other way protected in situ, to prevent further damage from the weather.

“In order to protect the Runic Stones from further erosion and keep them in their original position there is an urgent need to provide them with protection from the weather. An architectural competition was initiated in the autumn of 2009 to address this issue. The competition winner was announced during early 2010, and the result may imply construction work that will be fully consulted upon,” UNESCO says on its website.

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