Thursday, December 6, 2018

Cookie notice

Third parties may place cookies on this site.  That is beyond our control. Please be advised.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sonderborg Castle: The Wars, the Castle Evolves

A Handle on Danish History. So many memorials, so little background.
Updated to 2013

Denmark has endured / participated in numerous wars, as have all other European and other countries. Its castles and the decor preserve periods in time.  Sometimes the preservation is not optimal.  Take, for example, portraits in great halls that leave much to be desired.

Pick a pose like a peck of pickled peppers.  Is this Claes Ralamb, as shown below in the thumbnail -- Claes Brodersson Ralamb, the Swedish diplomat at a time when Denmark was under Sweden's thumb? At first look, we though so.  Visit Sonderborg castle,and see this commemorative portrait. It looks much like the pose of one Claes Brodersson Ralamb, Swedish diplomat.

Wrong.  Went back to my log, however, and had written that it was one Christian August of Lubeck 1673-1726, Herting Frederick IV's younger brother, and First Bishop of Lubeck by Anton Gunthen Hertig of Oldenburg or something, writing bad. Go to Images and find him there.  Note his pose, but the Sonderborg impossibly distorts the the right arm, the left hand so huge,  Somebody redid, or the original artist was inept.

Portraits:  Wealth does not always buy quality. Who knows the peculiar story behind this oil portrait, a seeming photo-shopped-looking travesty?

Keep careful notes.  This looked so like Claes. His real portrait (we believe from credits in Saudi Aramco World's article by Jonathan Stubbs, The Ralamb Mission, March-April 2013), hangs in the Nordiska Museet in Stockholm.

Fair use thumbnail of Claes Brodersson Ralamb:

Even the facial features look similar.  Perhapas someone could fund a proper copy of the Christian August portrait, after seeing Images and also at Wikipedia.  The absurdity at Sonderborg should be replaced. 
  • This Ralamb was a baron, a diplomat, one serving his Swedish sovereign(s) in the mid-17th Century, when Denmark was under the thumb of the Swedish Empire in the Baltic. He engaged in a fruitful mission to Constantinople when the Ottoman Empire was looming, got what Sweden needed;  and deserves better, even in Denmark when Denmark was under the thumb of Sweden.  Do read the article, and do a Google Images search.
  • So Ralamb was not a victim of malpractice by portrait, but Christian August was. Whoever copied this, or executed a very bad life-sitting, should be historically throttled. Whoever hung it in Sonderborg should be closely questioned. Revenge by portrait?
Or is it Johann Mathias Schulenberg, just found serendipity at, public domain at

The hand position must have been a favorite.

2.  Tracking history in castles.

Several stand out after the Medieval Era, however, as pivotal to their history in relatively modern times. For Danish Medieval History, customs, laws, see  Note especially in the culture area, the transition from blood feud revenge, to fees in law.  Not murder for murder any more, but one must pay the price.  When did capital punishment take over again?

1158:  Valdemar the Great began the castle structure with a Fortified Tower.  Later, the Blue Tower was added, King Christian II was imprisoned at the Castle, legend says in the Blue Tower, see  The Blue Tower was demolished, in 1755. Renovations? Why was it called the Blue Tower?

1538 -- Imprisonment.

A tower at Sonderborg was used as a prison.  Probably King Christian II, seen in the painting, was not kept in a place like this during his 17-year imprisonment here starting in 1538, and enjoyed mobility and fitting quarters, while being closely guarded. We were told not to believe the tale about his circling a table repeatedly, and wearing a groove around its top with his finger. 

3.   Sonderborg Castle by location was pivotal to the outcomes of important wars.

Two eras in the 19th Century stand out as relevant to Sonderborg, on the Southern Jutland peninsula, with German borders now nearby.

The old Schleswig-Holstein region disputes, there at the base of the Danish peninsula and with no natural boundary against Germany, were in 1920 resolved by referendum.  The referendum fell to Germany's favor.  There were years of invasions and counterattacks, with time passing, and a mixed population pulled both ways, finally just wanting resolution.

It was only with that referendum after WWI that lines were firmly redrawn, the invading forces from years ago getting what they wanted, with so much time passing.  People get tired. This buffer zone of mixed nationals, however, could have meant a less severe treatment of the Danish population and its Jews in WWII.

3.1. The first is the First Schleswig War, 1848-1850.

Look at a map: the peninsula that made up southern mainland Denmark is known as Schleswig-Holstein, with a border with Germany that ebbed and flowed with powers. Southern Jutland.

1848. Napoleon's wars seem to have sparked nationalisms elsewhere, and these areas got caught in the Pushmi-Pullyu of Germanic identification or Norse. The Germans to the south wanted a united area, united with Germany. The Prussians joined with the other more rural German identifiers, and this led to the war against Denmark holding those areas, see details at :// Denmark temporarily prevailed, but with conditions that left vague obligations with open doors to later changes.

How many were housed inside these domes with raised roofs. 

The ramparts are extensive, and the different areas are connected by below-ground open trenches, and also tunnels, for dashing about. Some have some sound effects on as you move about.

It is important to take pictures of things you don't understand.

3.2. Battle of Dybboel, or  Dybbel

1864. Without the 1848 war resolving anything seriously, issues arose again about boundaries and nationalism in 1864. After back and forth, the Second Schleswig War ultimately came to a head at the Battle of Dybboel, near Sunderborg. See :// The Danes lost, but celebrate the courage of their soldiers still.  Fine summary of the role of this suburb of Sonderborg, and the Castle itself -- see ://  Denmark lost all of Schleswig-Holstein but recovered the northern section after WWI, as part of a referendum.

4.  The Museum:  The Castle now is a huge museum.

Renovations often leave old useful structures in place. Water supply well, or oubliette for leaving unwanted prisoners to die, as in a dungeon far below? See  From the French, oublier, to forget.

Nineteenth Century Military uniforms and equipment to fit the thin and the portly.  The fashion for caps spread to the American Civil War, apparently.

GPS.  Be sure to get the actual address of any attraction before arriving near the place. Guide books, even the glossy ones, are in the Dark Ages on this issue.  Internet carries site addresses, but not enough of the planning materials do.  You need the address to use your GPS and save yourself some time.  Sweden and Denmark do not like signs to help tourists. Not even the "Centrum" or its variation road sign, to guide you to the old town.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Alken Enge, near Roskilde. Bog soldiers.

Archeology in Denmark, update:  Year 1AD, give or take.  Alken Enge, west of Roskilde.

An archeological expedition begun just after we were in Denmark found human bones in a bog there.  Bones in a bog are not unusual: see Silkeborg DK here, and other sites. 

This one, however, unearthed unbogged 250 persons, not individually dispatched, but apparently dead in a military catastrophe.  Which one? 

Roman army incursion.  Rome's army had reached a nearby point some 185 miles south of Alken Enge, with the indigenous people responding and fighting back against the expansion.  There are signs of wounds that resemble battle wounds.  The burial could have been en masse, ritual unknown.

There are about 100 acres that seem to hold further burial sites.  See magazine Archeology, Nov-Dec 2012 at p.14, article by Jarrett A. Lobell, "The Bog Army."  See website at, but online access to the public is not available.  Or am I just missing it? 

Year 1.  This archeological site, if it is related to the Roman Empire activity to the south, puts the army farther north from earlier boundaries.  See the Roman Empire in Year 1 at this site: Even by Year 100 AD, the Roman Army does not appear to have secured territory this far north. Still checking. See

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cross, Maltese, HRE, Danish Flag; Bjernede, Order of St. John,

The Knights Templar and Teutonic Knights were not the only Orders on Crusade and preceding the Crusades in the Holy Land.  The lesser known Knights Hospitaller, or Knights of the Order of St. John, deserve equal attention. It was founded in 1133, see history at, that formal date marking its independence from other Orders, such as the Augustinian or Benedictine.  The Hospital at Jerusalem, however, had long been run by a Brotherhood, Brothers of the Order, now Order of St. John.  Blessed Gerard's work established it, and his grave shows the angular Maltese Cross, shown in the background of the site.  Scroll down. Find the cross on the flag of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta at, white Maltese cross, red ground, the standard of the Grand Master.

The quartered flag of the Order, with a traditional white cross on a red ground, looks identical to the Flag of Denmark except that the Danish flag has its interstices (white cross, red ground) to the left of center, see  The cross resembles that of the Holy Roman Emperor, but the connection (see is supposedly unresolved.  It resolves if we connect the dots to the Knights Hospitaller.  See History of the Knights of St. John on Malta.

Militant orders in the ages of the crusades were clearly part of Scandinavia as elsewhere.

How the Order lived; and how the institutional rulers live now.

Read the "Rule" by which the Brothers lived: at  
Is this so:  that life by the Rule, Benedictine, Cistercian, St. John Hospitaller, developed by a form of brainwash stress and intolerance of autonomous behavior, rather than following the choice method of JC.  Think about it.  JC never forced people, enforced punishments. Tried overturning moneychangers' tables once, but that obviously didn't work, and the occupation was even absorbed by the "Rules."  History.  Love it.
  • Poverty, chastity, obedience, prejudice for the patriarchy, humility, associating in travels with those the Master designates, holy conduct, but watch out for women. Guard your modesty! (oh, Temptresses all, to be reduced to lesser status in order to aggrandize the Male in this dogged patriarchy)  Don't let them wash your feet (oh, Jesus, how has thou offended!) or your heads or make your beds (good one!).  
  • Pyramid scheme:  the Master gets 1/3 of all the alms collected, all goes through the Master.  Religion and autonomy do not go hand in hand. 
  • Clothing?  No fur (good!) and no bright colors (lest the Temptresses be inflamed?). 
  • Bread, water, no meat on Wednesdays or Saturdays.  
  • Morals. If a Brother fornicates, he shall be severely beaten and flogged, hard rods or leather flongs, in sight of the others in the community. 
  • No quarreling, no striking each other, penalties prescribed; eat in silence and no talking when in bed. 
  • The receiving of the sick man raises an issue:  were any sick women received. Doubtful?  No.  Babies were born at the Hospital, and sick men and women were received, see  

Treatments, supplies, clothing, all given as prescribed.  The equivalent of basic healthcare for all.

Maltese Cross:

The island of Malta was rented out by the Holy Roman Emperor to the Brotherhood, the Knights of St. John who had settled there in 1530.  The rent was two falcons a year, see Financial Times article April 8, 2012 at

At the orderstjohn site, scroll down to the photo of the round church and the columns there.  Is that the "round church" pattern that is seen in Denmark and elsewhere, suggesting the militant Orders?

An Order of St. John in Denmark was instituted in modern times, see Den Danske Malteseorden,, but without reference to medieval orders.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mysterious Bog People. Fear of Ambiguity

An imaginative draw for tourists is preserved human bodies in northern European moors, their condition leathered from tannic acid in bogs where they were found. The era spans some 12,000 years: Stone Age to the Middle Ages. Some display signs of foul play, untimely death, and then the speculation begins:  death as punishment, as offering to deities, what?  The degree of speculation concerned those at Archeology Magazine in reviewing a traveling show from 2006.  In the clear absence of proofs, with no definitive facts, no firsthand written record, the tale-telling begins. Find mottoes, little lessons, morality notes, made up and tacked on the exhibit. Bog fantasy, or "kitsch from the ditch,"says

National Geographic finds that some of the damage evident was inflicted by pressure or other means long after death, see Sometimes people even stepped with heavy clog on a body during the excavation process.

There are hundreds of such bodies: in Denmark, including Grauballe Man in Jutland; but also in Poland, Northern Germany and the Netherlands. Many cultures tossed items and bodies in bogs. Finding those reasonably intact is not evidence of human sacrifice, but of the conditions of tanning.

The display of the Tollund Man we saw at Silkeborg was responsibly non-committal in leaving numerous options open, but the visuals and suggestivity outweigh the technical non-conclusions, see; and But it is this very stress on needing reasons that is also of interest.
Spectacular finds! Write a book!  Why not lay out what we know and do not know, and leave it at that. Because there is marketing to be had. Abhor the vacuum and fill it up. Inconclusive circumstances bog deaths?  Make it certain. Then again, the sight of a noose-ish thing, or rope for tying people together around the neck, or other use invites speculation, and is hard to ignore. It is easier to explain away broken bones, gashes.

Tacitus, Roman historian, apparently referred to the manner of death as punishment for cowards, the unwarlike, and those who "disgraced their bodies".  And that is the only contemporaneous report we have. See the Archeology reviews site, and

Monday, November 7, 2011

Kalundborg. Womansaga. Birthplace, Sigrid Undset, Nobel Prize Novelist

Kristin Lavransdatter
Novel by Sigrid Undset
Nobel Prize for Literature 1928

Move aside, Moby Dick and the men's viewpoint of institutions, morality, tragedy, human flaw, and religious dogma words like redemption from the male perspective, sacrifice, all too monopolized in the watery setting of the whale. 

Here is its rival, by Sigrid Undset 1882-1949,  a womansaga that I think surpasses the mansaga of Moby Dick, even for modern professional women; and that is not limited to women's interests because the men are so deeply drawn,  The issues of Kristin Lavransdatter, transcend culture, just as Moby Dick, and even Gone with the Wind.  She was born here in Kalendborg, but moved as a little child to Oslo, Norway.

Sigrid Undset received the Nobel Prize for Literature for this novel in 1928.  Set it medieval Norway, 13th Century, the work was originally in three volumes, now in one thick but compact (small margins) version translated into English in the 1950's. See

As a small child, age two when she moved to Oslow, she would not remember the overkill of five steeples on the main church at Kalundborg, See the Church of Our Lady (count the steeples, and include the one barely showing at the left).

Still, what did this Catholic-convert experience, that brings her to offer in the novel a critical view:  the harsh and self-serving looks at the institution that  the militaristic and administration-oriented Rome brought, after its folk took over from the original earlier missionaries and monks of the contemplative sort.  Miracles and saints there are also, of course, but the foil is the acquisitiveness of the enterprise.

Christianity in the northlands:  after the Northern Crusades.  Undset as a Catholic.  Why?  That is one of the conundrums.  Is it a literal kind of Stockholm Syndrome, medieval style, where the forces at work on young girls set them to try in vain to please their captors.  Are you interested in finding out?  Not that everyone in a Reformation changes viewpoint, but which stay and which venture more on their own is a reasonable inquiry.

Oprah, if you are looking for a project, get Kristin Lavransdatter and sponsor a  film series for adults, and readings for book clubs, this is a thousand-pager.  Your channel will be set for life.

There is a film of only the first of the three books of the novel, Liv Ullman directing, see the very limited storyline at  The book is far more than a trite-sounding storyline.  It is epic, say we, and unusual for its delving into the female experience. This remains a book to be read, not a film to be voyeured.  Pans of the film are probably justified. Norwegians, how did you receive it? See

For us, the scope and depth of the topics do not fit a mere 1/3 of the work done in film, and how can any film enter into the mind the way a narrative can. It better fits, perhaps, 12 Sunday evenings, TV, of 1 1/2 hrs each until done.

Oprah, lend us your hands on this one. 

How did I read it?  The time was provided thanks to Connecticut's October snowstorm, wherein corporate power and cable and internet and phone sources left consumers out while they pursued other corporate takeovers with the money available, or just paid off shareholders while we are left in the dark.  For our family, intrusion was minimal.  Other parts of town, some 40% are still without power after 11 days.  We were without power of any kind for 3-4days, then just lacked for internet, cable and phone for another week or so, and are just now getting it back. 

Time for the Large Book of 13th Century Norway. No mere kindle or its ilk can contain this one.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Origin of the Danes - Danmark, Dan, Etymologies, Clues and Specs

Lost Tribe of Dan

A Melange of Legends, Name Roots, Symbols.
What happens with the Dan as Eagle is bitten by Dan the Serpent?

A favorite image with reference to the Tribe of Dan is this unhappy eagle being bitten by the snake held in its claws, from the Bremen, Germany Town Hall.  Bremen is not far from Denmark's borders, at Jutland. There are probably other symbols and legends at work here as well. Interesting things are ambiguous.

1.  Who and Where is Dan? The Search

Researching origins of population groups relies to a degree on tracing names, of people and places.  Whether or not anyone agrees with the tracking and speculation involved, it is a way to learn history. Start with Denmark, its King Dan, and see where the hunt leads.  What is the name, where was it from, can we draw any conclusions or not. See; and claims and denials, all requiring vetting. Names change in spelling: the Fridulfson in Swedish history-legend is probably the same as the Frode Frid Fridleif (or is it?) at the angelfire site. See Swedish origins, possibly

Start with a probably universal story to orient the beginnings of the Tribe of Dan: that there was once a great Flood, a near-global tsunami, or other earth-axis tilt event.

Some humans and some animals survived.
For the Western World, with the Flood localizing survivors in the Middle East according to the Biblical tradition, we ask where the missing Tribes of Israel went, those generations after the Flood.

Our interest is in that Tribe of Dan - Danmark - Dane - Danube, etc. Could it be so, that they migrated from Israel? Humans have migrated most everywhere, so the fact of migrating north would be consistent with the pattern of the spread.

Unfortunately, most sites about Dan present as evangelical-agenda (literalist Biblical) extreme garish attention-getters about damnation and idolatry rather than an academic look, with historic or archeological focus.

We start with the cultural focus in Palestine, Biblical tales, about the Hebrews descended from Noah, and a reasonable date for the Jewish Biblical flood at 2348 BC, his sons as Japheth, Shem and Ham.  Our initial bare-bones chronology reference:  Timechart History of the World, FN 1.

Looking at that chart, that makes all this so easy to follow (not so with words -- get the Timeline) start with Shem.
  • Our interest is in Noah's middle son Shem. Go down 8-10 generations, and find Abraham, sons Ishmael and Isaac, and Isaac's sons, Esau and Jacob.  
  • Jacob wins the inheritance, deviously (no wonder we are the same),and has 12 sons: in that number is Dan, the fifth son of the twelve. The sons became the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Let the wandering begin.
    • Most familiar of the Tribal heads who are the 12 sons of Jacob (Israel) is probably son Joseph, of Egypt fame, and the multicolored coat. 
    • Skip to Tribal head Judah, and his son Zarah - there are tales of him in the legends of the origins of the Scotti, via Hebrew-Eber-Iberia-Ibernia, speculate about Zahar's tribe's wanderings at  
    • Another son of Judah is Pharez, and go down the generations then to Jesse, David and Solomon and ultimately -- here's an oddity -- they list "Joseph", Victorian snerts as they are, when it is Mary who is the one descended, not old hubby Joseph at all.  Old charts tell us about the charters.
2.  Focus on Dan

Then move away from the Jacob-Judah line of Jesus, to another Tribal head, Jacob's son Dan, who appears to be lost, along with others of the lost tribes, but whose name is found along a discernible route through the Caucasus, Eastern Europe, and ultimately to Scandinavia -- names along the way include the Danube, and King Dan, see at a place and time recalling Beowulf, Lejre, near Roskilde, Denmark.

Or Leire.  For our purposes, it is enough to point out where some people's speculations go, see Tribe of Dan, Present Day Identifications at Tribe of Dan.

3.  Cultures claiming Dan

a. Ireland.

The Tribe of Dan's standard is the eagle, see it in the Book of Kells, see  That connects Dan's mystery tribe with the Irish mythical Tuatha de Danaan, of Ireland, and the site moves on with a connection to the ancient Phoenicians.

The eagle even today.

Dig deeper into the eagle symbolism, and find the eagle - still today for groups - grasping in its talons arrows, or olive branches.

b. United States

Look at the official emblem of the US - such an eagle.  Go, Tribe of Dan.

So, Irish are Israelites; according to that line; and that indeed follows Zarah and his group through Spain and up to Ireland; but how about the eastern group, heading through the Caucasus, the Scythians, etc. And the US also picks up the eagle and the arrows or olives.

c. Northern Germany -

Visit Bremen to see the legend of Dan the eagle, being bitten by a snake, see

Now, as for neutral non-agenda ideological sites, skip this one because the conclusion that a priest of Dan took with him some of his own possessions.  Those possessions includied some gods of the people he had worked among, that he was therefore an "idolator" and cursed, etc, etc.

Nonsense. I was in Africa and brought back carvings of gods, too.  Does that make me an idolator?  Possibly, since I think Gaia deserves some press.
  • Read that site not for fabricated ideology , only for the bones of the story, not the person's agenda in scaring everybody to death with made up connections.  When any of us move, do w take along familiar things also, and that does not mean belief in same.  Big deal.  
 See, if you must,  Tracts like that do prove how dangerous made-up dogma is -- some people will latch on.  Poor priest.  Just wanted something from home.

d. Sweden.

The Swedes also reflect Dan in word and place. Odan, Odin, see

Elsewhere, if you enjoy the paranormal (check it out) see the Danns and serpents and serpents' tails and red hair, and

4.  Refer to the possibly concrete.  Place names.

I prefer the concrete, so offer this compendium of names. This is an old site, Mapping Israel's Migrations, at

Danube or Donau
De Danaans (Hibernia, Eber, Hebrew)
Iberian Peninsula (look up Zahar and Zaragoza, Spain)
River Danapris
Dananris now Dnieper
River Don
River Donets

5.  Sing a Song of the Tribe of Dan

Oh, Dan, Jake's Boy,
The fifth son's Tribe left wandering.
Have you left traces, names, symbols: The Judge.
The years have gone, and shadows leave us wondering
Did you go north, northwest, or none of the above.

The Irish Tenors sing your song.


FN 1

Timechart History of the World, Third Millenium Press, Chippenham, England, Stream of Time portion in the British Museum panels 2-14.  See Google, Timechart History of the World

What is that?  A backbone reference. It is listed as juvenile nonfiction, but do not believe it.  Any adult needs a boost on history and chronology. This is from an 1890 effort, here as hardboard folding timeline, heavy posterboard with hardcovers, published as a wall chart and portions originally in the British Museum.  That has been updated and extended so it folds out to Year 2003.  As a Victorian work, the main focus is on Biblical chronology across the top and with the world's main cultures like ribbons laterally below, to show what others were doing at a given time.

Cenozoic Era, 2.5 million years ago, start. Some 6000 years of focus.  End, with the updates, at 2003. This is a phenomenal piece of work, 12 1/2"W  X  18"H  X  1/2" deep. Unfolded, 15 foldings = 15.62 feet long or 5.21 yds. Both sides are printed, so double it for 30 feet of history, and 400 illustrations. Spread that out on the dining room table and add card tables to get 2.6 yards before you have to flip. Or, just fold and unfold, like a great book.*

* Dear Bill Gates,

With your interest in transmission of information, please see that one of these is placed in every home in the world in the language of each family. Literacy classes to precede and follow. With this as a reference, all data can be vetted as desired, with the joy in finding errors, and put into a basic chronology.  Each adult and child, My culture was doing this in 2000 BC. What was yours up to? Imagine the conversations worldwide. It also creates jobs, promotes education and intercultural understanding.

Thank you.

Car-Dan Tour Company

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kastrup - Accommodating Airport for the Flexible. Copenhagen

Copenhagen: Kastrup Airport
Kastrup to a frequent traveler may look at first like just another airport. It has its twitches however.
1. Accommodations are not nearby.  If the several reasonable rooms at the Hilton are occupied, you will have to get on mass transit to another route a stop or two away, then walk to try to find a room.  There is no central bank of phones or shuttles to take you. The railway is just below ground, as are taxis.  The drill is: hop on a train and go 10 minutes back into Copenhagen somewhere, and start walking? Not handy. And how to get a taxi back at 4AM in time for a 6AM flight out?

Go back to the car rental, but the car is already processed through. Can't even get that back.

2.  Boarding pass. If your boarding pass is printed on hotel paper with the logo on the reverse, it may not go through.  At the airport, Dan's boarding pass went through, but mine, and we had printed out on the same printer at the hotel, but mine balked. Sorry, lady, just step aside here for another pat down, and another.

3. We ended up sleeping in Kastrup.

Our last good night's sleep:
  • Here's the hotel: wouldn't anyone trust it.

Trees in the hallways.

 But the printer ran out of paper. Run out to the lobby, run back with a stack, stuff it, and print and run.

Sleeping in the airport isn't so bad.  Food available.

Plan B.  No big deal. We always told each other on the Car-Dan Tour Company that if we couldn't find a place to sleep, we would go to the local police station, introduce ourselves, and curl up in their parking lot.

Next best thing is the airport lobby.  Doze until midnight when the doors open to get into the specific airway lounges (you can only go in on the day you are scheduled to leave).  Plan: Get through the inspections at midnight and find a nicer lounge area until 5AM boarding, perhaps even a place without arm rests.

 Clearance is challenging.

There.  It only takes three seats, and a bend at the top.  ZZZZzzzz.

You will not be alone. Many people sleep in the airport. Hotels are costly so why even bother with that?  We seldom get a good sleep the night before anyway - too much rifling around in the backpacks and throwing out stuff so you can get on without checking anything through. 

The thrill wore off.

If the boarding pass had gone through at midnight when we first went upstairs (noone is allowed into the boarding areas until the day of the flight), we at least could have slept on more comfortable lounge chairs up there.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Frederikssund - Vet the Viking Tradition. History's Agendas: Writing-Dependent

Viking Culture.
He Who.

He who controls the writing controls what is written.
And how. 
And what is said. 

How to find "history" when the victors wrote their version; 
or, the stories were written so long after, 
and by those who were not there; and have agendas.

Frederikssund.  Frederikssund is a town not far from Copenhagen, that boasts a Viking-camp type recreational area, with longhouses, pathways, a little village.  It closes in the fall, but offers a pleasant respite walk before heading into Copenhagen. See

 Frederikssund, Viking sculpture, modern
On the topic of Vikings, why are they so maligned by Western "Christian" cultures.  Barbarians are there!  Onward, Christian soldiers!  Look more closely at the tradition of Viking maligning.

1.  Definition of barbarian.  Who is one?
2.  Ancient. Reach of indigenous history: People have been settled in Denmark since 3000 BC Stone Age
3.  Handicap:  With no writing system beyond runes, a narrative could not be recorded and passed on easily. 

4.  12th-13th C. foreigners - The victors - did the job of writing, and they did a job on it. It was foreign conquerors or those looking down their noses who wrote down Scandinavian Stories, with the writers' agendas. Or, the "historian" did his best with the material, but the times did not value vetting fact, but putting down whatever was heard. 
5.  History.  History is not fact.  History is what is sifted, written, persuaded, recorded, discovered.
6.  Control of reading and writing enriches the religious and military exploiter, colonizer
7.  Vikings:  sources for appreciation of system of laws

Viking Reputation in History
1. Who is the barbarian.  

Was that really religion talking, or turf and seeking wealth and power.  Vet "barbarian".  Rocks of other people's ages: what speaks. Frederikssund offers festivals to recreate what it can. Remember camp?  Coming to a Viking reenactment festival site is like that. Role playing, demonstrations, crafts.  We saw the reenactments at Horsens, DK, the rehearsals before the Big Day following (best time to go), but this one - by mid September - had just closed. No matter. Wander anyway.

Where else to find a positive reconstruction of Viking culture, that is not tainted by the doctrines of those who had the writing knowledge - monks, scribes -- of the conquering Western Religions.  We know more than we think:  see

"Barbarian" came into use in the mid 14th Century, and originally was not a pejorative.  It was merely descriptive.  See
  • Latin - barbaria - foreign country, the Romans applying the word to those who did not display Greek or Roman accomplishments
  • Medieval Latin barbarinus -
  • Greek - barbaros - foreign, strange, ignorant; and Greek barbaroi - those who were not Greek, referring to the Medes and Persians especially. The meaning "darkened" after the Persian Wars, says  The Romans technically, for Greeks, would be barbaroi.  
  • Old French barbarin - Berber, pagan, Saracen, barbarian, 
  • Linguistic sound root "bar bar" - as an echo of how foreign speech sounded to those who could not understand it;  or Sanskrit root (a "cognate") as barbaros or stammering, see [and, same site, not connected to barbecue or barba for beard]
Who is the barbarian?  See Western Ethnic Violence Timeline

2.  The reach of indigenous history

Frederikssund has been inhabited since early Stone Age - see that era illustrated in Denmark at  Years?  Pre-1700 BC. Even as far back as 3500 BC. The Bronze Age, uses of metals, came in about 1700 BC. See

There was an extensive culture in Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia, religious and social organization evolved from then to the invasions of the Europeans to the South.

Enter Rome into Germanic tribe lands in Germany - Saxons, Wends, others -- and note that Rome could never subdue the Germanic tribes.


Then fast forward to the second wave of attempts to subjugate, and these worked: The medieval military-religious invasions as Christianity, inheriting the Roman militance and developed organizational skills used largely in its violent forms, spread the faith by requiring conversion or death among the northern peoples.

Watch the march of the Frankish Christians (Charlemagne) and the Popes  and later Holy Roman Emperors; then to Eastern Crusades that morphed into Crusades against the multi-deist and even Orthodox-converted Christians in the North.

Those later cultures of south-influenced Europeans, The Romans, the Franks, had writing and records.  The Danes, the Jutes, the Norse (term for all northern peoples here), the tribes in Sweden and Norway did not, at that time, in their own language.  See the scope of contemporary college courses, example

3.  The handicap of no writing system, beyond Runes. 
Could not use writing to persuade, keep records

History:  Records are a matter of agenda.  Who made the record, why, when, where.  Does it relate to demonstrable events; or is it to persuade of something. If a culture has no narrative writing record, are they inferior; or a product of their geography and environment.  What extra time do cold people have, to develop writing.

Vikings.  No records but oral history, and variations of runes.

Without original, indigenous records, how to recreate Viking culture to teach others based on fact.

Archeology goes only so far.  How to derive an understanding of belief systems, values, when they themselves did not (could not, as a matter of northern climate rigors and priorities to stay alive) keep their own records.  They did did not have the tools to do that until after they were conquered and were forced to learn new languages and ways; and most important, ways of heating enabled a Renaissance in the north. Is that so.  
  • Writing is a luxury. The role of cold. Have to keep warm. No time from that to figure out how to record things, or store them. And nothing much to write it on.  The easy writing materials like papyrus or clay for tablets, or pyramid walls inside, started that handy scribe-capability much farther south, where it thrived. Hot climates = early writing cultures. Cold climates = late writing cultures.
So, rather than Vikings spinning their representations of their culture to show how wonderful they were (as did southern Europe and Mediterranean cultures), they did not do much representing at all.

They just lived it, and told it. They did rune stones as memorials of people or events; or for directions in the woods; and told their stories, in a rich oral tradition.  But even that oral tradition of origins, heroes, gods, like ours was finally written down by people living much, much later.

When their stories were finally written down, it was not edited even by Vikings from the culture (the earliest Adams and Eveses did not write their own story either).

4.  12th Century Foreigners Write Down Scandinavian Stories, Long After; With Agendas

So who wrote down the Viking oral histories?

Sometimes we have no idea other than a name, if even that. It was not written by the Vikings themselves, who did not know the European or Latin languages to write it.  This was done by people after Christianity took hold, even as to advanced societies as that in Iceland.

The original peoples did not write their stories before the great conversion eras brought in the converting scribes.  It was done by Christian advocates, or other Europeans or Latin-religious conquering people - like Romans, clerics, scribes, monks bound on conversion. Conversion: like it or not and call in the Pope's or the Holy Roman Emperor's armies to see that the rabble got fixed, or killed, whichever came first.
  • Snorri Sturulson in 1200, Iceland -- a poet and politician, see the Prose Eddas at He respected he earlier culture and religion, and created a framework for the stories of the gods. Still, his viewpoint was Christian: Christianity is valid, multi-deism is not. See all the dreadful things that happened under multi-deism. We are so much better off now.
5.  History is what is sifted, written, persuaded

a. What we were taught.

Vikings suddenly and without cause began raiding Europe, say in 790 AD.  Up and down the lengths of the rivers:
  •  France, 
  • Russia (the Volga, that route largely to develop trade down to and beyond the Black Sea), 
  • attacking in Britain and Ireland the unguarded monasteries and conducting atrocities, slaving, conquering much of Britain and ruling it (King Canute) for a time, 
  • back at the monasteries, taking riches, engaging in great commerce ventures throughout the Mediterranean, down the Volga past the Black Sea, returning the next year, and on and on from about 780-1150 AD.
Is that so?  A sudden explosion, or was it a response to equal and even worse exploitation over centuries of cultural invasion.

b. Vikings - What we now know about motivation: was the culture really just callousness. What did Charlemagne do, culminating after 30 years in the slaughter of Saxon Wood, Sachsehain, at Verden.  That was 782 or so.  After 30 years of warfare, forced conversions, killing off of cultures.  That would put the start of Charlemagne's campaigns to colonize the north at about 752.  Enough is enough.

Ask what motivated them to raid?  Charlemagne, stupid. The Pope, stupid.  Is that it? Who dares say.

Put the records together. Were the Vikings triggered into aggression because the Charlemagne-type Holy Roman Emperor-Type Christian conquerors were invading their lands and forcing conversions?

At first the Vikings did hit the monasteries, LIndisfarne was the first;  so a religious connection makes sense.  Convert or die?  And they refused to convert, for the longest time, until they had to, or die. Is that it?  They had no formal "religion" or word for it, but their culture embraced law and morality.  Was that system better?
No wonder the Vikings hit the monasteries.

Barbarism was not in the killing - the Church had done that for centuries of invasions into the north and west; and then came Inquisitions and Crusades.  See

Barbarism is in pretending that other people's killing is worse than your own.  Historian's agenda.  How is a people represented. Why. Here, look at the retaliation angle, not the barbaric ferocity. Lindisfarne - retaliation. Viking target not only for religious retaliation, but for loot.

c. .  Retaliation as the Motivation; then when it paid so well, go back and do it again.
Of course the Vikings hit the monasteries.The monasteries were rich and undefended - look at what a monastery could hold.

d.  Ask what the real purpose of all that converting was.

The institution and the Holy Soldiers got rich from it. Souls?  A peripheral smoke-screen, judging from the methods used to convert.

How did the church get so rich? Were the Norse, includind the Danes, correct in the assesment that the invasion of the Christians was simply military; and responding in kind as long as they could.
  • Consider the process of and motivation for developing religious ritual, and building in opportunity.
An abbot or monk or priest attending a death and administering last rites had an easy sell:  you are going to hell, mister, unless you donate this and that and that, and so they did. The Church controlled the process. Only the religious had access to writing materials, so just sign on the dotted line. X goes here. See the records of the Danish Cistercians, Abbey founded at 1153 at Esrum.  By the 1500's they owned 300 farms plus churches plus highly lucrative mills.  Thank you, death bed. Is that so?  See
Medieval Wills and Inventories:

Fair use quote: Emphasis added, Medieval Writing site:
"Wills were not used to dispose of the family real estate, as theoretically that was not the legal prerogative of the owner. The legal heir was designated by the crown, and the process could be full of political machinations. Wills were used to make donations to religious bodies such as monasteries, for the benefit of the owner's immortal soul, and to specify the nature of their funerary monument and funerary commemorations."
Further, in England wills had to be proven in Church courts. Medieval Writing site. Medieval Wills and Inventories: Guess who won.  The "inspeximus" was a specially proven will, a certified copy by a person especially trusted.  For substantial persons, the original will would be verified by the seal of a higher up clergy, even an archbishop, and five others. What was needed for mere farmers?  See an example of a portion of such a will at
Medieval Wills and Inventories:

Clever. See  The name "extreme unction" was generally used by the end of the 1100's, so this Abbey was right on time to benefit financially. Go to the site, Our Lady's Promise: It takes so long to justify the reasoning for this new sacrament that allowed, even required, the Church to be present at death. From the convoluted reasoning,  it is reasonable to suppose that its use (particularly as it extracted property in practice at the same time, to save the soul), is and was not justified at all.

Just handy. Persuasion tactics. Who would resist donating property to the church, if eternal damnation were the alternative. My sins not forgiven?  Where do I sign. See details of the ritual itself (that of course does not refer to the ancillary benefit of property donations in extremis)  at

Vikings? Barbaric? In the sense of being foreign, yes.  In pejorative behavior? No. So of course Vikings aimed for monasteries.  Not only was Viking religion and culture being invaded and Germanics killed by the new Religion-Meisters, but how else could the North people fight back? They did not roll over easily. And monasteries were wide open. And they kept refilling their coffers.

6.  Control of reading and writing  enriches the religious and military invaders and colonizers

Examine Wills. Examine the role of property in culture and status. A Will, a form of writing that establishes in some areas who gets what, and easily includes donations to a religious sect when that sect demands presence at death (not just to save a soul, but see that papers are signed in time).  For the individual, illiterate or not, a Will give a sense of conclusion, continuity, a sense of time and place.

Who controls the will? The one who controls writing. If the testator cannot read or write, who is to say what was really agreed. Enter, the religious authority with the clout of damnation if the poor sick soul does not donate.

Old wills served a different function from ours.  Old wills could not dispose of anything at will.  Pun. That made the role of the church all the more overpowering in dispositions.
  • One of ours, in name only (similar first and last name, to some old deceased) Johannes Widingh 1376 .  The worldly goods of Johannes Widingh are recorded in perpetuity in the Hamburg records from yes, 1376.
Johannes Widingh 2011

Seeing an old will is its own satisfaction.

Keep a people ignorant and illiterate and on the run, and the colonizer-invader wins. Learn to read, and you can protect yourself, to a degree. So get your own records and see if you don't feel more rooted, less vulnerable -- all is kept -- and only a small processing fee and postage. Go and ask. See

  • The point is not just the fun of finding it, and a name (even if no relation at all) recognizable to an uncanny degree over 600 years later, but seeing a Truth:  A culture with writing has records. And the person with writing skills has power over the one who has not, particularly in transmission of goods and donations.  What is being signed for?  Who knows.

This will appears formal, but we see no seal, or signature of Johannes Widingh.  See the example of a very formal one with special certification from England at

7.  Vikings - Resources

No writing.  No respect. No look at invader causation (us). Just call them marauders, pirates.  See  No wills. Leaders arose and fell back as needed. Far less hierarchy than the Franks and Popes were imposing from the south. Although Vikings had no separate word for "religion", their customs and practices were based on long-standing tradition and belief. See arild-hauge site.

a.  Viking laws.  Even the word is Viking. See
b.  Viking society as self-regulating. Read the customs, emphasis on personal honor, use of vengeance at carefully chosen times, to uphold honor, daily life. To attack persons outside the law area was no crime. See
c.   Danish runes.  There were 16 until about 800 AD. Then more were added, and later, influenced by the Latin alphabet, see 
d.  Influence and place.  See

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bjernede, Inside: Round Church, Rundkirke, Interior. Saint Mary of Egypt, Mary the Harlot, Mary Magdalene

Round Church. Medieval.
 Bjernede, Inside.
Symbols, Saints.  Crusades?
And the Last Supper.

Issues Overview
I.  For the exterior of the medieval round church at Bjernede, and the churchyard, see
II.  For the interior, a basic question for us is whether this is a Templar-built or otherwise Crusader-purposed (including to accommodate pilgrims who could not get to the Holy Land) church, Templar-inspired (being round is not enough - the Roman Pantheon is round) or not Templar at all. And Last Supper issues.
Start with this third party video. It shows the upper level that was accessible only by a narrow stone spiral staircase.  That staircase was concealed behind a tightly shut big door with a distinctive cross on it (Crusade-related?) no sign or invitation to open.  We did not do that, so the video:  Martin Pavon, Photographer, at 
III.  We begin with the ground level, the worship level/ Do the symbols and art suggest that Bjernede is a Templar/Hospitaller/other Crusade-related church. That was common with other round churches, as is believed about the several round churches on the Danish island of Bornholm.   Clues: Crusader crosses, a Golden Chalice detail in a painting, crescent, Eastern Orthodox in Saints' dedication, perhaps ritual areas above and below the worship level.
Round churches in themselves are not necesssarily Templar or Crusades. And ordinary traditional rectangular shape churches may be. See this Swedish example of a Cross Church, Forshem Kirke, at  Scandinavians may or may not have participated actively in crusades, but structures were set up as a kind of pilgrimage-equivalence (Cross Churches) for donations and penance while remaining in one's own country, see Forshem site.
What might persuade one way or another about Bjernede. Is it copied from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, also known as the Church of the Resurrection (is that an eagle in the photo above, itself a symbol of the resurrection?), round and the dates fit.
A.  Topics Overview
1. Crusader Crosses, hidden defensible spiral staircase to ambulatory above; someone else to look up placement of windows against sun, moon shine
2.  Structure - granite first, then brick on upper - does not look Templar issue
3.  Seating.  Hierarchical toward a priest station. Obviously not original.  Is contrived to squeeze a round setting with all the pillars in the way, to an artificial priest-in front hierarchy setup. Better to have left it a round church.
4.  People in paintings -- Dedication to St. Lawrence (note crescent on his hat); and St. Mary; but which St. Mary?  Mary of Egypt?
4.1  Woman at the Last Supper, painting Tryptych.To us, clearly a woman, with female headdress on, to Jesus' left. Is that a medieval married woman's headdress? No hair showing, prim.  Looks like it. Research ongoing.
4.2  Woman in large painting:  St. Mary, as in dedication?  If Mary Mother of, why the smudged face. Disguise, or to deemphasize her role in an emerging male church. Is the eagle for Resurrection; or to suggest John.
We believe the painting instead is Mary of Egypt, Saint Mary the Harlot (not Mary Magdalene), Mary of the Desert, Patron Saint of Penitents. Her story takes place in Jerusalem and eastern environs. What does she carry -- music? Scripture to be sung? For Mary Mother of Jesus, could be Magnificat; for Mary of Egypt, she sang the Nunc Dimittis. See notes. Also painting of a 1691 family: The skull and hourglass:  Masonic?
4.3 Saint Lawrence - the Gridiron
5.  Furnishings - Impregnable poor box; or donation box; or for safekeeping. Is that for donations or goods for safekeeping while the person was away? See also the doors where the crosses are found, the width of the planking, pulpit
6.  Tryptych -- More on the painting of The Last Supper.
6.1  See the focus on the Gold Chalice - put that in context, if you like, of Templars, Holy Grail, or not.
6.2  See also what appears to be a woman at the Last Supper, part of the group, with head-covering, very close to Jesus. Is it Mary Magdalene at the Last Supper, at Jesus' left hand, at a round table. See notes below. Is this so?
6.3  Mystery figure #1, last supper. Need better photograph. Is it there?

6.4  Mystery figure #2, partially unclothed. Ewers nearby? Youth, whom Jesus loved? What did Danes understand, believe, why?
B.  Templar question. 
After seeing the crosses and the grail-form chalice in the painting,
 and other elements,
  • Ask if this second floor balcony area, and lower area, was used for purposes other than regular mass.  Is it for rituals, whatever, because it is so hard to see anything from there, up or down. Do go to Martin Pavon's video at .
  • We are not differentiating between Templars and Hospitallers here, except that it is Templars who are associated with the Grail, secretsl and we find some details of both.
A.  Topics
1.  Crusader Crosses
Start inside with an interest in crosses, and what they might say about the mindset or faith of the commissioner of this find building, Sune Ebeson, or Ebesen, in 1170 or so.  What elements of non-Roman Catholic doctrine, as that later developed, are missing;  what elements of either Eastern Orthodox faith (the Great Schism was recent - in 1054, and the Crusades began immediately after, in 1065 by Rome's branch alone; and Knights Templar activity ongoing in that context until 1314, when the dismantling and securing of whatever they had went underground. Hospitallers? Did they also have to dismantle?
Holy Grail (is that a shape, a circular concept like roundtable for living on a higher plane, not a "thing"), mere regular riches, secrets, none of the above. See the Round Churches Roundtables site above. Some early churches were martyria in the middle east, octagonal in shape, see  This however is not octagonal.
For an overview of Templar elements in known Templar round churches, such as in England, go to around page 308 ff and before.  Find analyses of axes, many symbol and ritual discussions, including sun, moon. Beyond the discussion here.
1.1.  This looks like a Cross Formee.
The Cross Formee is one of the crusader crosses, see That site shows all the crusader crosses used  by crusading states from the 12-15th Centuries.  This is different from a Maltese.
The entire door shows that the vertical axis is not just continued down the length of the door, but is an equal-sided cross.  Even the midline of the door just below the cross has a different linear design to separate it from the cross above.   Some illustrations of the Maltese Cross show indentations, making a kind of 4 arrowhead pattern aiming in to the center from the axes. Is that necessary, or just one of the variations?
The round knocker is for ritual use, as the door handle that actually opens the door is there at the left.
1.2  This looks like a Cross Ancree, or Cross Moline, a Forked Cross, other names. 
All doors were tightly shut in the church, no invitation to enter and explore.
Crusader crosses are intersecting equal arms, equal horizontal and vertical axes, and what is behind?  The online video of this 1170 church, see sune Ebbeson's work at, photographer Martin Pavon, shows stairs, and upper chambers.
The Cross Ancree has a more pronounced curl at the end of the forked axis end, than the Cross Moline. A Maltese Cross, however, is like four arrowheads facing in to the center, each arrowhead itself in a pointed V shape at the end, wider there than at the center.
There are little anchor hooks that curve on the Moline and Ancree at the end of the axes, make both variations different from a Maltese Cross.  Do see the History of the Maltese Cross site for the crosses used by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem prior to the 15th Century, see
This cross ancree door is strongly reinforced. There is the same patterned exposed stonework inside and out. I think this was interior. The knocker would signal the participant in the ante room that the time has come to come out, or some such. Outdoor ritual knockers can provide the same service.
2.  Structure.  Granite, many colors, interior.
3.  Seating reconformed to put priest in front.  Awkward. Contrived. When was the round format altered to the cruciform, hierarchical all eyes in one direction, to the priest?
First, there is a Roman Catholic cross on the inside over the door now, with a hanging Christ, long vertical axis, shorter horizontal axis.  That would be later than the building of the church, is that so?
Seating.  It just doesn't work in a cruciform format.  The entire arrangement of seating and ritual places is awkward and contrived, with seating requiring awkward angles of neck and poor eyeballs just to see.  One's nose touches the pulpit.  That is Matthew and Mark there, however.  You can't miss that.
This shape of round is far more suitable for the older in-the-round services, rituals.  Matters would have been conducted in the round, and turned later for reasons of ideology into an axis dominated structure. It jars. See what looks like an original and untouched round church structure in Austria near Lienz at
We see that most of the Danish round churches on the Danish island of Bornholm also have added transepts. See Osterklars Kirke, photographs by Sara Hindenmark, at  The music is awful.  Have they also put altars in them, turning the orientation from the round to the hierarchical? We would like to see whether those were original, or came later when the Roman authoritarian doctrinal version of life became entrenched. See also Henry Lincoln's 1979 documentary cum speculation on round churches, Templars, beginning with findings at Rennes le Chateau, France (Languedoc), and Bornholm, and elsewhere, and moving on to a multi$ industry in Templar objets, see
At least in Austria, where we saw a round church structure later turned into an axis-dominated one, they had the sense to remove the round walls and reconstruct the square inside.  See Martinskirche, Martin's Church, Linz (not the same as Lienz), Austria, at
4.  People in the church
4.1  Identifying figures - St. Lawrence, Saint Laurentii, other?
Where to start in identifying figures. This looks like someone of high clergy status with the incensor; but look at the hat. Our conclusion will be that this is indeed St. Lawrence, and that he is not carrying an incensor, but it takes a pursuit.
Saint Lawrence is one of the two saints honored by this church. There are a number of symbols that help in identifying him, or parts of his story.  Are there other St. Lawrences.  It cannot be the Archbishop Olaus Laurentii because he died in 1438.  
  • The breastplate.  Gridiron.  Look again at the symbols.  St. Laurentii of this church often bears a symbol of a gridiron, the method of his martyrdom. See  This figure bears a gridiron on his chest..
Get closer. Yes!  We vote for this as the old martyred St. Lawrence.  Look at the breastplate.
Lawrence is said to have said at one point, "You may turn me over.  I am done on this side."  See site. 
  • But there is also a crescent on the headdress.
On his hat is a crescent moon, or perhaps a horn symbol.  For Templars, the crescent moon is part of the iconography, and as a symbol predate the actual formation of that group.  This is not to argue that this particular crescent is a harbinger of Crusader symbols, but it would tie in the Church figure to the later effort, is that so? The crescent is also part of the symbolism of the old Mithra, and the form is incorporated in Roman Catholic iconography, see
The crescent, or horns, are common symbols in many cultures. Mithraism, for example, was the old State religion of Rome, and it was long in dying out, and horns were part of that ritual. Paul of Tarsus -- Tarsus was a central part of Mithraism, and there are many carryovers from Mithraism to Christianity. See
Still, a crescent, if seen as the moon and not pagan horns, is a problem. These are generally female symbols.  How does that figure into a Christian theology unless this man so predated Rome that he continued to carry the older, non-Christian symbolism. See the mindserpent site:  the crescent became a symbol of cosmic conception. And, the female at one time in evolving Christianity (these aspects later deemed heretic and stamped out) was part of the trinity, even the godhead. See gnostic sources, example, truth is the mother, knowledge the father, etc. See also, 
Perhaps the crescent means that, as the elvis.rowan site indicates, history is not clear that St. Laurentii was a citizen of Rome.  If he were a citizen, he would have been beheaded, not roasted alive.  But was he beheaded after all?  Nothing is corroborated. And the "incensor" may just be instead just Laurentii carrying his own coals.
4.2  The smudged woman.

Saint Mary - Other saint?  We know that this church was raised in honor of St. Lawrence and St. Mary, see, but which St. Mary? There is a large painting of a woman in the church, but it looks like  no madonna we have seen.
a.  Mary Mother of Jesus?  We think not.
This painting of a woman is prominent in Bjernede Church. But the usual corroborative symbols are not there for this to be Mary Mother of Jesus.
  • Garment colors, often blue for Mary;  here green gown and a red cloak (those colors sometimes indicated leprosy, see; or blood of sacrifice, remission of sin, etc. Also, later, prostitution
  • It appears that someone tried to smudge the face.  Is that so that it would look male, and not be Mary at all? 
  • Even the gown does not show a female top particularly (not determinative, many sizes); 
  • The bottom of the gown also is odd.  Is that just bad restoration, or did someone try to make that look more masculine as well, and end up making it look even more female -- leg lines clearly shown.  
  • The figure is carrying what looks like music - and to mind comes the Magnificat, but that is speculation.  
  • What is that eagle at her feet?
    • Does that eagle persuade us that this woman is really St. John? The eagle is not a gryphon, because there is no body of a lion. St. John is represented by an eagle. If this is John the "beloved disciple" -- this looks cross-dressing. And not male where it counts.
  • There is no halo, as would appear for a saint. Or has it been also smudged out?  
  • The pose carries no clue as to her role.  As to Mary and Motherhood, this is not a madonna, not a grieving mother. Is there another Mary? Bottom line: There would have been a large representation of a saint to whom the church was dedicated, and this is the only candidate we see for a Mary. The issue becomes, which Saint Mary. Mary Mother of.
Close up:
  • Look closer. Smudge, smudge.  The smudges may try, but do not succeed in turning this woman into a man, even with a mustache. If the smudges mean that someone made an effort to purge women from church prominence, as doctrine later required, that might explain it. That concept of the diminution of women's roles would apply from dogma as it evolved in an institution increasingly male-worshiping.
  • If it is Mary Mother of, then the and the eagle can symbolize the resurrection idea, but that is a stretch. See  This one does not even look like an eagle. It looks all white.  Then again, a double headed eagle, facing in opposite directions, is a Templar symbol, so is this one of what would otherwise be a pair.  
  • Why the defacing if this is intended to make a woman look more like a man.  Is it because Rome;s evolving doctrine excluded women in such a prominent position. Check Rome's purchase receipts for smudgepots.
b.  We think this is Saint Mary the Harlot.  Saint Mary of Egypt.  Saint Mary of the Desert.
There is indeed another Saint Mary - not Mary Magdalene, not Mary the mother of James etc; but Mary the Harlot, known in the Coptic Church particularly, 4th-5th Century, who was also known as Saint Mary of Egypt. She is a patron saint of penitents, one who became a hermit and lived her life events mostly in Palestine. .  See  See FN 1
There are many versions of her story, each with inclusions and exclusions that support the ideology being fostered.
  • 1275 Roman version.  See the Roman Catholic The Golden Legend, Lives of the Saints, Story of St. Mary of Egypt at   She went to Alexandria at age 12 says versions that follow this line, and prostituted herself, then to Jerusalem and the salacious life commenced. [If we ask why this church is dedicated to her, the crusader connection may help explain how the idea of this particular saint got to Denmark.]
  • 635 Orthodox version. Her life story was written hundreds of years earlier, however, by St. Sophronius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem in 635 or so. Find it at the Orthodox Christian site, Russian Orthodox, at  That early version also contains the salaciousness but puts it in a context of a total story including about the priest Zosima, who had his flaws as well.  Both come across as sinners. When a version was put into Latin as part of the Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine, Archibishop of Genoa in 1275, the emphasis is more on her sinner side, not the sinnership also of the men around her.
  • In this version,  Mary is a woman from the desert, see Images of her with a robe worn toga-style, a sinful woman now penitent.  But she becomes the vehicle for the salvation of the priest who was directed in a vision to go seeking grace in the desert.  He did, and found Mary, and learned.asked Zosimas the priest (that would be St. Zosimas of Palestine, see to lend her his cloak to better cover herself, and he did. 
Is that the red cloak in the painting: Zosimas' cloak for modesty.
  • In this version, She had powers, levitated, "knew" things, and Zosimas the priest became her disciple. She also could walk on water. And she spoke the Nunc Dimittis while taking the sacrament.  Is that a book of scripture she is carrying. In those days, couldn't the language of the people be used, and not just Latin? So the script that looks like music could be something else. She had died by the next time he visited, a year later, and a lion helped Zosimas bury her, not an eagle. As to her carrying music here, if the painting is late in time, there are operatic allusions to her, including in Goethe's Faust. She is in Ben Jonson's Volpone. See
  • In this next version, Mary is a pure girl who studied the scriptures under the tutelage of an uncle, named Abraham the Hermit, a holy man relative, each in adjoining cells (she was an orphan), then she was seduced by a monk. See  She became so distraught at the evil she had done with him that she lacerated her face with her nails. There explains the mess that looked like smudges, or bad restoration.  She did that to herself. How could she have let herself be so despoiled, etc. So she left, went to another land, changed clothes, and entered a brothel [word "stabulum" also can mean a fixed abode, or hostelry, says site note; translators pick and choose what fits the agenda?].  Meanwhile, the uncle missed her, had visions, sent someone for information, got it, went in disguise to her himself, and ate and drank with her and "rescued her soul from the deeps."
  • She is not Mary Magdalene.  Mary the Harlot, Mary of Egypt lived about 370 CE.
So, Mary the Harlot it is. 
She raked her own face with her nails, was seduced by the monk (it took a year for him to succeed, pure girl as she was), regretted having been seduced, self-blamed, either went into the desert or into an inn to live, or a brothel, was found by those who had visions where she was, and why they needed to go to her, and she ended up saving them. Or at least, one of them.  Applause, Mary the Harlot.  Applause.
Wikipedia at offers more salacious details of Mary's early life -- hardly living in a cell with a holy man uncle on the other side of the wall -  in the era that followed her life, it became important for theologians to demonize women, place them beneath the superior blessed male.  So, down she went.
4.3  Painting of Family from 1691 (date known from enlarging this to death)
What are they holding? The rectangle above the skull and bone looks like an hour glass. What happened to these people?  We do not see a record of the Plague here at that time.  It looks like they are blessing the little one; one adult holds a rose. 
A clue is the center bottom skull, bone, and hourglass.  Those are Masonic symbols, that even found their way into Dan Brown's book, The Lost Symbol, see The Lost Symbol, google book, author Dan Brown, page 155
There are also other sites for the symbolism but without the ability to vet authority, suggest you search independently. Skulls and bones and hourglasses also, of course, appear in non-Masonic contexts, How to discern?
 5.  Bjernede Church furnishings, accoutrements
5.1  Poor box or safe for donations, valuables
Not just a poor box. This appears too iron-clad, literally, to be a mere poor-box that the priest would check weekly and use for whatever.  Yet it would be portable as a safe, for taking to a common collection point. Ordinary clergy, or perhaps Holy Orders holding goods and papers for pilgrims, for literal safe-keeping, and then return' or reversion to the institution if no-one comes back.
.Poor-box,  for charitable donations; or property receptacle, to be held for returning crusaders? Bjernede Kirke, Bjernede Round Church, DK
 Well locked. It looks like the property or coin or documents would fall through a hole below for further safekeeping/
5.2  Pulpit
Matthew and Mark are on the pulpit, photo at top in the seating section. They are identified by name.
6.  Tryptych, with Golden Chalice featured;  and Woman at the Last Supper by J's side.  Additional figure?
This Tryptych, a three part and still possibly folding presentation of a Biblical event, with Patrons on either side: routine.

6.1  The Chalice.

A gold Chalice is at the center of this Last supper view, pre-Leonardo
There is a prominent, and held-high, chalice of gold. There is a general buzz going on in the group, and somebody is pointing at the Chalice so we are sure not to miss it. Reading a narrative into the prominence of this golden Chalice, it does fit in the context of crusades and a mysterious holy grail that was handily thought of as a Thing.  The Templars found and took that Thing, or that idea, or the riches spiritual or material that it represented, somewhere. 
A Grail allusion right here.
6.2  The Woman at the Last Supper.  
What is that figure to the right of J? The figure is wearing a head covering, it looks like a married woman's head covering, all the hair covered; and she is is very very close to J.
  • Mary? Mary Magdalene? Is that you? The figure to the right side of J, from our viewpoint in front.
  • Look  back at the gnostic (excluded from the canon as heresy) Gospel of Philip,, and the imagery of bride, bridegroom, and the stories of a marriage having occurred between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, all suppressed as were other gospels depicting the female as part of the trinity, wisdom, possibly totally false (the church said so and banned them and the men took over)  but a popular theme and we will never know.
It is not John.  We see John in front of Jesus, fast asleep and paying no attention to all this at all, his head down on the table..  So this figure with the headdress cannot be argued, as it has been in the case of a possible Mary in Leonardo's Last Supper, that the figure some see as Mary really is just John, the Beloved. Here we have both Mary and John in the same picture.
It is not even clear that John was the beloved disciple; see the references to the youth whom Jesus loved,!/2012/03/vetting-lexicons-thayers-joseph-henry.html
It is not Judas. We think we see Judas, in front, with his coins held carefully behind his back. Or is that another figure showing at the angle there.  Add them all up:  all the heads and we have Jesus plus12 people there, including Mary Magdalene. Who else?  This was long before DaVinci interpreters looked at his ambiguous presentation. Look even closer.
Does the painting now need protection? Do we hear the church saying: We can't have Mary at the Last Supper there, nosirree, and not with a married headdress. And certainly not so close, can we, even if she was. We don't care what really happened. We have our dogma to protect. Get rid of her. Now.
This woman, we think of as Mary, is indeed wearing a head covering,  None of the other figures wear a head covering like that.  That is a lot of fabric, not just a cap.

6.3  The mystery man, lower right, behind what may be Judas?

It looks like another figure. Not sure.

6.4   The second mystery man, lower left, unclothed beneath

Counting:  Do we now have 12 disciples?  Count. Yes. Jesus 1, 12 others. But that includes Mary Magdalene.  And who is the one seated, partially unclothed as shown in this enlargement.
 John is asleep elsewhere. Who is this?

Maybe we are getting too close. Look at the figure above and to the left of the wine. He wears no clothing, lower half.  Buttocks. Bottomed out?  Have to get to the bottom of that. And whose feet are whose. Feet and bottoms, for heaven's sake.  That is really weird.
On the other hand, stories get sanitized to fit the demands of dogma.  Look back at the references to a young man, the youth whom Jesus loved, summarized at the Thayer site lexicon above.  The word could have meant a person also in a servant or assistant relationship, is that why the ewers are next to him?  Disciple meant "learner" -- need we get hung up on a particular 12?
B.  Templar Questions
Templars or not, what explanation is thee for the crosses and the focus on eastern saints like Mary of Egypt (born in Egypt, even with all the variations on her story).  Gnostic interest in dualism, the female in religious structure. Even Hospitallers, who  also became a military order combining role of Knight and Monk, the Order of St. John of Jerusalem is one of those. See discussion at
This set of ideas will take a return trip.  A better camera, time to explore, now that we know what we are looking for. Go to the upper levels. Open the doors, poke around like any obnoxious tourist. Why did we hesitate to open closed doors?  Mother's manners.
 In the Martin Pavon video of the other level, at, watch for the part with a cross etched in the wood scaffolding framework. Nothing is ever clear. It does show which door to open, however, we think.  In old tales, open closed doors and find who knows what.
Need to go to the island of Bornholm where several Templar Churches are located.
FN 1
Consider.  The Golden Legend was written in about 1275.  That puts the Roman Catholic version a hundred years after the church at Bjernede was dedicated to here. So this church and the crusaders would have relied for their knowledge of Mary upon St. Sophronius.
Ask whether the idea of penitence, emphasized in the Orthodox, is overwhelmed by the idea of what she did -- sins of the flesh -- emphasized in the Roman.  Did she prostitute herself? And how much was that an element, if she did.  Example of issue: Another version of her story says that "stabulum" or "brothel" also means simply fixed place of abode, see below. See the Golden Legend side translated into -- is it Arabic? at Why not translate the Sophronius?
The role of the focus on her salacious life, rather than the total context and relationship also with Zosima. The 1275 version operates to discredits her as an inspired human being and turns her into a victim of her carnal lusts.  Earlier versions did not have her a slave to lust.  Somebody needs to do a comparison of the Patriarch of Jerusalem version in 635 against the Archbishop of Genoa version in 1275. Is it just a matter of leaving parts out, or are there other changes. It looks more like parts just left out.
She is in the Orthodox calendar for observances, but not the Roman Catholic. She is honored by special events in Crete (Wikipedia site below) so would have had connections with Crusaders going East. How could they miss her.
Her story is a touching one, but details vary with the teller and translation.