Friday, December 31, 2010

Amleth or Hamlet. Events at Jutland. Sonderborg? Certainly not Zealand; at Kronborg. Vet the idea.

 Hamlet was a Jute

Shakespeare finds plot lines in many other sources.  Hamlet came from the Amleth of Saxo Grammaticus, or later other sources referring to Saxo.  Saxo who wrote 'chronicles' of Danish "history".  In Saxo, Hamlet, or Amleth, was by specific reference from Jutland.

Hamlet, if he was from Jutland,  was a Jute.

A Jutish person. Jutland.  Jute tribe.  See their role, and participation in invasion of Great Britain along with the Angles and Saxons, at
Shakespeare never sited his castle, except to say "Denmark," (is that so?  still looking).  That seeming clear, see below, it is time to move the ersatz Hamlet grave stone (hokey) to Jutland,  somewhere.  Where? So far, we vote for Sonderborg, Jutland, Denmark,


If this is so, despite popular hearsay support for Kronborg Castle in Zealand, Denmark, being "the castle", we must move Hamlet's commemorative stone.  Get the van and take it from the so-called Hamlet's Grove, Helsingor, Zealand; near Kronborg.  We must move it to somewhere in Jutland. But where?

Where on Jutland shall we take it?

  • First, why must we move it?
We must move it because it is in the wrong place.

Kronborg, or Elsinore, on Zealand, was not the setting for the "real" Hamlet of Shakespeare. It is only said that Kronborg Castle inspired a setting for Shakespeare's Hamlet, as it was an admired Renaissance construction-du-jour, see

We are looking for any evidence that Shakespeare actually had Kronborg in mind.  Let us know if you find it.  Kronborg was insignificant in location. It was built in 1420 as a small fort for tolls on the Oresund (Sweden was just across by a few miles), then expanded in the late 1500's to be glamorous, by Frederik II.  There was no prior history of a "castle" on the Kronborg site at the time that Hamlet was sited, as far as we can find.

Outside the box.  Sonderborg site.

Why is it not equally feasible that Shakespeare used Sonderborg Castle, which is actually on Jutland, as Saxo provided, as his inspiration.

No one minds representing Kronborg as inspiring Shakespeare, because that is what tourism does.  But where is the information.  Look for any documentation that Shakespeare himself thought "Kronborg."  With that failing (will it?) can we also let the tourist industry say that our Hamlet is indeed here, buried, as well?

Hamlet's grove.  For the gullible.
  • Second, we need to move it because the earliest sources are far from Denmark.  
  • The earliest sources appear to be Icelandic Sagas, with mythical elements. 
  • That leaves the issue:  Why site Hamlet at Kronborg.  Site it in Jutland, somewhere, and so far the best candidate, for location, strategy, royalty, intrigue, is Valdemar II's Sonderborg site.

1. Hamlet for Shakespeare, if he read Saxo (as he appears to have done, to get the story and crib it) had to know that the events were sited by Saxo in Jutland.

The original Hamlet story (the story farthest back we can find, that does not mean historical actual single figure, is an Amleth figure), puts a similar story in Icelandic sagas, and mythological.

So despite the humanity in the events, responses, interactions:  there was probably no specific Hamlet for Saxo and then Shakespeare.  Rather, perhaps a conglomeration, cultural baloney if you will,  happened, as best its events can be referenced, but in Jutland as to Saxo, not Zealand as to the tourist industry.  See

There are also events between Kings and marriages and events in Britain, Scotland, Germany areas in the Hamlet story, and a range of events far exceeding and differing from the Shakespeare focus, but it was Jutland for the main events of the story. See
a.  Saxo.  Page 139.  In the Saxo tale, Hamlet goes to Britain, then returns (all emphases for Jutland added)

"On reaching Jutland, he (Amleth or Hamlet) exchanged is present attire for his ancient demeanor, which he had adopted for righteous ends, purposely assuming an aspect of absurdity." 

 The same reference to Jutland is found in the Ashliman translation, so we did a "find" thereafter and found other examples. Jutland. But a "find" cannot be done easily in the Saxo, so will wait to specifically find each of these from the Ashliman:

b.  Ashliman.  King Wiglek, who succeeded King Rorik over all Denmark, accused Hamlet of usurping the Kingdom of Jutland.

c.  Ashliman.  Eventually Wiglek slays Amleth in battle in Jutland

d.  Ashliman.  And "a plain in Jutland is to be found, famous for his name and burial place."

2.  When in Jutland, for the inspiration of Shakespeare and corroboration for Saxo?

Look for a historical fortress-siege-castle-site, that evolved over time from Hamlet's era.  What is the year of Amleth? The story did not originate with Saxo with his writing in 1185.

Look back to Icelandic Sagas, 900 or so? See

There are more primordial resemblances back to early civilizations, see a 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, at

So it seems clear that the really, really original "Hamlet" archetype is not definable by Scandinavian sources.

The events in the story may help.  The end of the Viking age is said at this site to be when Haraldr was defeated in Britain, and the Saxo story has Hamlet in Britain (after feigning madness at home at the suspicion of the murder of his father), marrying there, and also marrying a Scottish queen (and bringing them both back to Denmark apparently, see Saxo).

That would indeed put the story after the Viking age, and about the time of Valdemar, a little earlier perhaps? See p.266 generally, at\

 3.  Where in Jutland?

Weigh Sonderborg.


One problem is that it is on an island, Als Island.  It passed to Germany in the 1860's, then back to Denmark in the 1920's; and straddles both sides of the Sound. See

Pro.  The water distance is small, however; and would have been an easy ferry ride over.  By now, of course, it is connected by full roads.  And the water is a plus:  Amleth walks the beach, finds the rudder of a shipwreck, see page 109 at Saxo, by Frederick York Powell

Default.  Where else is there on Jutland, but a place with proximity to Britain and events at the close of the Viking era:  Medieval Sondeborg Slot, Sonderborg Castle, Soenderborg; we are looking for drawings of the castle before the Renaissance changes. Is Viborg in the running, founded 1000, see

Look closer at Sonderborg as a site:
Valdemar, first substantial builder, but the area has been populated since the Stone Age. Start with Valdemar, biography at . He built several towers, as defenses against the Wends. See medieval tower uses, living quarters upstairs, a prison perhaps, at

  • And there is a plain, a battle plain, just west of Sonderborg itself at Dybbol, that is the site of other battles, including civil wars, wars with Germany over Schleswig-Holstein, etc. 
Battle plain, Dybbol, near Sonderborg DK
Written sources cite Sonderborg in 1256. See at (click to translate)


We will look there.

c.  However, there are other options. Still looking. Need bones. Off to Iceland.


*   We need a reference, a comparison, because Sonderborg does not have the websites we are looking for: its archeological history, overall map.  Bergenhus in Norway looks very like Sonderborg - read the progression of uses, incorporation of the old medieval tower, he entry into the medieval castle, into a bigger tower, and uniting all the function buildings.  See

So how the complex looks now, is not what it was as an original medieval construct.

Other medieval royal seats in Denmark:  near Roskilde, Lieth (that is on Zealand where Kronborg is); or old Arhus.

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