Havnbjerg Kirke - Engelsk

Havnbjerg Church

 Situated on a 50 m hill, Havnbjerg church has been dominating the landscape of the village of Havnbjerg for about nine centuries. We don't know exactly when the church was built, but historians reckon it was erected between 1140 and 1160 in Romanesque style. However, before the introduction of Christianity, there may have been a heathen shrine at the place where the church is now standing and perhaps the viking chief Haken or Hagen, lived where the rectory (vicaridge) is now situated.



As mentioned, the nave and the chancel (high altar) is built in the Romanesque style employing field stones or raw boulders for the 125-265 cm thick walls. The ceiling over the high altar was originally a barrel vault, which later in Gothic time was replaced by the cross waltz. The roofing of the nave is painted beamed oak/beech, which has been renewed a few times in the course of centuries. The outside roof of the church was originally covered by ordinary tiles, but is now glazed tiles. In late Gothic times, a porch was erected on the north side of the church with a crested gable of tile stones. However, when the present tower to the west was erected, the porch was moved to the tower entrance room, and the old porch has since then been used as a chapel.


The tower with the golden ball and cross was built in 1867, not only to the joy of the inhabitants, but as well as a beacon for the seafaring people. The roofing of the tower is tarred chipboard. The gilted ball made of copper has a diameter of 2 meter. Inside the sphere lies the speech given by Bishop Noak at the celebration of the tower's 100 year anniversary.


Before 1867, there was a free standing bell house located where the stone pillar stands commemorating the fallen during World War I.


The bells are now placed in the tower, the oldest bell is from approx. 1345 wearing the inscription “Ave Maria Gratia plena” showing drawings of Mary with the child and Laurentius. The second bell is from 1920 was a present from “Old Denmark” in commemoration of the reunion in 1920.  It replaced a bell which was taken down during the Great War and recast into war equipment. The youngest bell from 2004 is being used when chiming and for automatic ringing at sunrise and sunset.


Altar, pulpit, benches, frescoes, font, and organ

The oldest altarpiece stems from the early16th century. This was a wood carving representing persons from the Old Testament. It is now at the Danish National Museum. The current altarpiece from 1831 is a painting by C.W. Eckersberg – a famous Danish artist who was born not far from here, on the Jutland side of the sound. It represents “The Prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane”.


The sacristy to the east was originally built in 1780, but enlarged and rebuilt several times since then.


Originally, the church had no seating at all. It is not known when the benches came into use – but presumably after the reformation in 1536. We take good care of the old benches as well.


There are frescoes in the northern window niche next to the altar and decorations of the vaults which have been uncovered and restored in the 1950... These frescoes are estimated to be from the latter half of the 15th century. In the eastern wall behind the altar is a Piscina which was used for drain of baptismal water and consecated water. This drain is now closed.



The pulpit with seven subjects in late Renaissance is from 1625. Carved reliefs with German text on the life of Jesus.


Baptismal Font

The baptismal basin (font) is a Romanesque (viking) granite fountain, presumably used as a vessel for holy water as the size of the basin is too modest to accomplish the old baptismal practice with complete immersion of the child. The inserted baptismal basin is from aprox. 1700 and made of brass.


On the east wall by the baptismal font you will see a crucifix with Evangelist symbols in the cross arms, a copy from a 15th century crucifix. The wood carving (copy) was made in 1958.


Moreover, the church has two ships – the one in the aisle is a model of an American tea clipper from 1971 and the other ship in the porch represents the Danish schooling ship “Denmark”.



The first organ which the church had was from 1764. The current organ was donated to the church in 1987 by Mrs. Bitten Clausen, the widow of the founder of Danfoss, Mads Clausen. It is an elegant concert organ which is often used by professional musicians.


Entrance room

In the entrance room of the tower you can see a plaque representing the parish priests and fellow servants in the word since the Reformation – and a dean's plaque as well. On the priests' plaque, one notices strangeness in the inscription for Erik Pontoppidan, who was parish priest in Havnbjerg 1726–34. He then became bishop of Bergen (Norway), and it is finally mentioned that in 1736 he was elected Pro chancellor at the University of Copenhagen “where he still lives”!!


Church Yard /Cemetery)

In addition to the pillar commemorating the fallen Havnbjerg citizens in the great war, there is also a stone on the west side of the church for the fallen six soldiers from the parish during the Schlesvigian wars in 1848 and 1864,


The church yard represents geographically where the dead persons were living – at least in the older parts where all graves were situated in the direction of the small hamlets of the parish and thus reflects some of the parish geography, The old part of the cemetery is fenced off by a stone dike, in which you may find stones from the Bronze Age as well as stones with monograms of the dike builders.


Other interesting grave monuments include century-old burial stones for the parish's families as well as the graves of Bitten and Mads Clausen – looking east to the Danfoss factories.


The main gates are from the year 2003 - designed by the artist Peter Stuhr and adorned with a golden figure, which leads the mind to a mandorla (almond wreath surrounding holy persons in medieval paintings). The small gate to the east by the church path to Elsmark and Lunden is adorned with an arch representing the rising sun.



Danmarks Kirker, Nationalmuseet 


Private notes von Jan Fjelking  

AHB / January 2022