Denmark – King Dan

The story is told that, in olden days, there were three brothers: Dan, Nor and Østen. They were the sons of King Ypper, who lived in Uppsala in Sweden, which was named for him.

The brothers went their separate ways, settling each in a different country. Dan went to Denmark, Nor to Norway, and Østen stayed in Sweden, in the countries to the East.

At that time, the realm of Denmark did not yet exist. Dan ruled only over the island of Zealand and the lesser isles. Jutland, Funen and Scania were each separate kingdoms. The Jutes were, at that time, at war with the German king. They built up earthworks and a palisade along their southern border, in that place where Queen Thyra later caused Dannevirke to be built. They named this wall Kovirke. But, when the German king came with a mighty host, they sent messengers to King Dan asking for his help.

Dan went to war with the Germans, and a great battle was fought before the wall. Most of the enemy fell, “biting the grass”, as the saying goes, and the rest fled. When the Jutes saw how brave King Dan was, they led him to their thing-place, and placed him upon a great stone, proclaiming him their king. This stone was since called Daneryge (ryge being a Jutish word for “large stone”), and it was there, later, that Danish kings were acclaimed. Daneryge was to be found on the the thing-place outside Viborg, and the entire place has also been called Danerlyngen.

When the people of Funen and Scania heard of this, they also elected Dan their king. Dan now summoned the best men in all the realm, and he said to them: “This land is fair and fertile, yet it has one flaw: it lacks for a name.”

They answered him: “You are Dan, and therefore the realm shall be called Danmark, and this name shall last for so long as the world lasts.”

King Dan built himself a royal palace at Lejre near Roskilde Fjord. He was called Dan the Grand or the Mighty, because no man before him had had such a great domain. After his death, the Danes built a barrow. They placed him in the tomb chamber fully armed and arrayed for war, mounted on his horse. Then they cast earth upon the tomb, making a mighty burial mound.