Aa Church (Aa kirke) is a Romanesque church dating from the 12th century. Aa Church, which literally means "stream church", owes its name to the two streams which run beside it. Dedicated to John the Baptist, it was first known as Sankt Hans kirke (St John's Church). A gilded figure of St John stood in the church until 1706 but was buried in the churchyard by the priest as it was attracting undue attention from Catholic prisoners during the Great Northern War.
The church was built in the latter half of the 12th century in several stages. The oldest remaining sections are the choir and apse and the lower parts of the nave, all characterized by greenish sandstone and rust-brown shale from nearby Grødby Stream. The western end of the nave and the tower are made of limestone. The men's door to the south and the women's door to the north have both been preserved although the latter has been transformed into a window.
The tower was originally narrower on the western side but was already widened to its current dimensions of 13 by 11 metres during the Romanesque period. With its four floors, it reaches a height of 22 metres. The twin roofs from the 14th century probably replaced a four-sided pyramid. The bells now hang here although they were originally housed in the Bornholm fashion in a separate bell tower to the south of the church. The vaulted rooms in the tower were once used to store foodstuffs. The porch of Nexø sandstone, the oldest on Bornholm, is slightly more recent than the tower but still dates to the Romanesque period around 1200–1235.
The nave is large and light with a flat wooden ceiling. The vaulted ceiling from the Gothic period c. 1350 is supported by four rectangular corner pillars. It was earlier divided into two by arcade walls and had a gallery for the nobles from the now ruined Lilleborg Castle. During major restoration work in 1874, the arcade walls were torn down giving the church its present shape. Further restoration was carried out in 1968.
The altarpiece and pulpit date from 1603, probably the work of the sculptor Johan Ottho from Lund. With 11 scenes of Jesus' life, the sandstone font from 1200 is ascribed to the Gotland sculptor Sigraf.References:
The Jelling stones are massive carved runestones from the 10th century, found at the town of Jelling in Denmark. The older of the two Jelling stones was raised by King Gorm the Old in memory of his wife Thyra. The larger of the two stones was raised by King Gorm's son, Harald Bluetooth in memory of his parents, celebrating his conquest of Denmark and Norway, and his conversion of the Danes to Christianity. The runic inscriptions on these stones are considered the most well known in Denmark.
The Jelling stones stand in the churchyard of Jelling church between two large mounds. The stones represent the transitional period between the indigenous Norse paganism and the process of Christianization in Denmark; the larger stone is often cited as Denmark's baptismal certificate (dåbsattest), containing a depiction of Christ. They are strongly identified with the creation of Denmark as a nation state and both stones feature one of the earliest records of the name 'Danmark'.
After having been exposed to all kinds of weather for a thousand years cracks are beginning to show. On the 15th of November 2008 experts from UNESCO examined the stones to determine their condition. Experts requested that the stones be moved to an indoor exhibition hall, or in some other way protected in situ, to prevent further damage from the weather.
Heritage Agency of Denmark decided to keep the stones in their current location and selected a protective casing design from 157 projects submitted through a competition. The winner of the competition was Nobel Architects. The glass casing creates a climate system that keeps the stones at a fixed temperature and humidity and protects them from weathering. The design features rectangular glass casings strengthened by two solid bronze sides mounted on a supporting steel skeleton. The glass is coated with an anti-reflective material that gives the exhibit a greenish hue. Additionally, the bronze patina gives off a rusty, greenish colour, highlighting the runestones' gray and reddish tones and emphasising their monumental character and significance.