Many people know that St Katherine’s Church in Regent’s Park near Gloucester Gate is now the home of the Danish Church in London; but not everyone, perhaps, realises that on the south side of the church is quite an amazing site, a copy of one of Denmark’s finest ancient monuments.
This is the famous Jelling Stone which Harald Bluetooth (King of Denmark, AD 940 to 985) set up at the ancient sacred site of Jelling in eastern Denmark. It is well worth a detour if you are walking nearby in the Park.
The Jelling Stone is an irregularly-shaped boulder, about eight feet high by as many wide. On one face is carved the earliest Scandinavian representation of Christ – arms outstretched, the whole body twined with ribbons in the typical late Viking style of decoration.
On the second side is a great beast caught up in a vine, a beast surely ancestral to a fine monument of our own, the carved tombstone from about the time of Canute found in St Paul’s Cathedral in 1852 and now to be seen in the Guildhall Museum.