Monasteries in Denmark

Roskilde Abbey

Roskilde Abbey or Our Lady"s Abbey was a monastery of nuns dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin. It was founded in the early 12th century for Benedictine nuns, but in 1177 became part of the Cistercian reform movement. It was chiefly known for the tomb of Saint Margrethe or Margaret of Ølsemagle or of Højelse (both names of places near Køge), who, although murdered by her husband, had been wrongly ...
Founded: 1176 | Location: Roskilde, Denmark

Mariager Abbey Church

Mariager Abbey was founded in 1430 on a hill overlooking the ferry across Mariager Fjord by the Bridgettines, the last monastic order to reach Denmark before the Reformation, on land acquired in the late 1420s from the dissolved Randers Abbey. Tradition has it that the abbey was founded by several noble families in Eastern Jutland. Sources disagree on whether the abbey was founded from Maribo Abbey or from the Bridgettine ...
Founded: 1430 | Location: Mariager, Denmark

Øm Abbey Ruins

According to the abbey chronicle, Øm Abbey was founded in 1172 by Cistercian monks from Vitskøl Abbey in northern Jutland. The abbey was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was called "Cara Insula" or the 'dear Island'. The Øm Abbey Chronicle was written by local monks from 1206 to 1267 when it abruptly ends. It outlines events at the abbey during the tumultuous years of the early 13t ...
Founded: 1172 | Location: Ry, Denmark

Dronninglund Castle

Dronninglund Castle is a former royal residence located in the northern part of the Jutland Peninsula. Its history goes back to the 12th century, when it was the Benedictine monastery of Hundslund Priory. After the last nuns left it in 1581, it was first owned by the Lindenow family. In 1690, Queen Charlotte Amalie acquired it. It is from her that the palace takes the name Dronninglund, meaning 'queens forest'. ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Dronninglund, Denmark

Dueholm Priory Ruins

Dueholm Priory was a monastery of the Order of the Knights of St. John of Malta, also known as the Knights Hospitaller. It was founded in 1370 by Bishop Sven of Børglum, the diocese of northernmost Jutland at the time. At its height in the early 16th century the priory consisted of twelve brother priests led by a prior, who was often a secular nobleman who served as advocate in worldly matters. The hospital was ope ...
Founded: 1370 | Location: Nykøbing Mors, Denmark

Stubber Priory Ruins

Establishment date of Stubber Priory is unknown due to a lack of records which were destroyed when the priory was dissolved in 1547. It is probable that the land for the abbey was gifted by one Helm of Stubbethorp (the old name for the area where the abbey was built, not earlier than 1163. Helm is mentioned as a donor to Tvis Abbey. Helm apparently gave his farm at Stubberthorp to the Benedictines sometime between 1190 an ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Holstebro, Denmark

Halsted Church

Halsted Church dates from the second half of the 12th century, the church has a Romanesque chancel and nave, a large burial chapel from 1636 and a tower from 1877. The church was closely associated with Halsted Priory, which has not survived. The granite church is first mentioned in 1177. It is therefore older than Halsted Kloster, the Benedictine priory with which it was associated from the 13th century until 1536. The ...
Founded: ca. 1100 | Location: Nakskov, Denmark

Vrejlev Priory

Vrejlev Priory was founded as a daughter house by canons from Børglum Abbey about 1165. It was small and built out of granite blocks. After a catastrophic fire in 1200 which destroyed the entire premises, it was decided to rebuild. 12 residential cells were built into the new north range for the Premonstratensian nuns who were to live in the rebuilt priory. Another range contained the refectory and cellars, and a t ...
Founded: 1165 | Location: Vrå, Denmark

Sebber Priory

Sebber Priory was established between 1250 and 1268 as a house for Benedictine nuns. The priory was dedicated to St. Lawrence. Its founding details are uncertain; it may have begun as an Augustinian house. One question about Sebber Priory has always been why it was located on the coast in such an isolated location. It appears that Sebber was already a village in Viking times, a trading place for ships plying the Limfjord ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Nibe, Denmark

Brahetrolleborg Castle

Brahetrolleborg is a castle was known as Cistercian Holme Abbey before the Reformation. The abbey was founded and settled in 1172 from the Cistercian Herrevad Abbey in Scania, now in Sweden, of which it was a daughter house. It was secularised during the Reformation, probably in 1536. After the abbey was secularised and taken into the possession of the Danish Crown, the Crown released it into private ownership. In 1568 i ...
Founded: 1172 | Location: Faaborg, Denmark

Tvilum Abbey Church

Tvilum Priory, the latest of the Augustinian monasteries in Denmark, was founded between 1246 and 1249 by Bishop Gunner of Ribe, who had hoped to establish the Augustinians in the cathedral chapter at Ribe, but in vain. After he resigned his bishopric in 1246, he donated all his worldly goods to the monastery at Tvilum, while he himself became aFranciscan friar. The Bishop of Aarhus at about the same time gifted the incom ...
Founded: 1246-1249 | Location: Fårvang, Denmark

Asmild Abbey Church

The relatively large church, which predated the nunnery, was built about 1090 as a parish church dedicated to Saint Margaret of Antioch during the reign of King Olaf I of Denmark. It functioned as the cathedral of Viborg until the new cathedral at Viborg was finished in 1133. It was constructed of granite and limestone in the Romanesque style with rounded arches and few windows. The church was of an irregular shape with a ...
Founded: c. 1090 | Location: Viborg, Denmark

Tvis Abbey Ruins

Tvis Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey founded in 1163 by Prince Buris as a daughter house of Herrevad Abbey in Scania (now in Sweden). The abbey was dissolved during the Reformation, probably in 1547. The abbey church, which served as a parish church, was demolished, apparently in 1698, after which a replacement was set up in the west wing, but that too was demolished after the construction of a new parish church in 188 ...
Founded: 1163 | Location: Holstebro, Denmark

Glenstrup Abbey Church

Glenstrup Abbey, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was founded about 1125 as a Benedictine monastery. The nobleman Svend Bo and his wife Inger Thott gave property and several farms to support it in the mid-12th century. It was built on the site of a holy spring called Maria"s Spring in medieval times. The location was a religious one in Viking times and the abbey was most likely constructed on the site of a stave chapel ...
Founded: 1125 | Location: Fårup, Denmark

Æbelholt Abbey Ruins

Æbelholt Abbey was first established on Eskilsø Island in Roskilde Fjord in 1104. While no remains of the wooden abbey have survived, the stone abbey church there still remains, though in ruins. It was 24 meters long and had a nave, choir, and apse in the Romanesque style. The monks became 'unruly' and Bishop Absalon of Roskilde, determined to obtain a new Augustinian superior, sent for his friend, ...
Founded: 1167 | Location: Hillerød, Denmark

Alling Abbey Ruins

Alling Abbey, dedicated to Saint John, was built at the lower end of Alling Lake near the town of Svostrup sometime before 1250. There was a connection between the closure of Vejerslev Abbey in 1231 and the building of the abbey at Alling which was partially filled with "unruly" monks from Vejerslev. The constructed abbey is mentioned first in 1250. The abbey was constructed in the familiar pattern. Three range ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Ans By, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.