Excavations carried out in the vicinity of Ribe Cathedral from 2008-2012 uncovered a graveyard containing around 3,000 bodies – and they were Christians.
The graveyard dates from the years 860-1050 and the numbers equate to around 10-15 burials per year during the time Ansgar was a missionary in Denmark, reports Politiken.
The new evidence, revealed in a book by Torben Bramming entitled ‘Da vikingerne mødte korset’ (roughly: When the Vikings met the Cross), suggests Danes were Christians around 100 years before Harald Bluetooth was baptised in 966 and immortalised on the Jelling Stones as the man who made Denmark Christian.
Ansgar the true hero
“There is little doubt that this is Ansgar’s Church(yard) and Ribe Cathedral is able to trace its roots back to the middle of the 9th century,” stated Morten Søvsø from the archaeological department at the Museum of Southwest Jutland in Bramming’s book.
When the Danish king Harald Klak was baptised in 826 in Ingenheim on the Rhine, a young monk named Ansgar was sent to Denmark as a follow-up.
So even though Harald has taken the credit for converting the Danes, according to Bramming it was a long, unbroken process dating back to Ansgar’s pioneering missionary work, which continued with the extensive church building program in 1000-1200 when Christianity really took hold in Denmark.