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Jernved Church


The Romanesque church in Jernved is a fine example of a tufa church from the Ribe area. According to an old myth, the church was built by ’Sorte Plov’, who murdered the king, Erik II Emune in 1137.


Who built Jernved church?

Jernved church is one the oldest and best-preserved tufa churches in the Ribe area. Tufa was imported from Germany and Holland and many churches in South West Jutland are wholly or partially built of tufa. The church in Jernved is supposedly the church in the diocese that has the most similar architectural style to Ribe Cathedral. Jernved Church was built in the years around 1175. The church consists of a nave, chancel and apse in Romanesque style, and the original decoration of the pilaster strips and round arch friezes are almost completely preserved.

There is no information about who was responsible for having the church built. This has naturally caused some contemplation and ideas about its origins. One of the myths suggests that it may have been the lord Sorte Plov, who murdered King Erik II Emune in 1137. The reason was supposedly that Sorte Plov wanted the church to act as a kind of propitiation for his crime. It does not quite fit in terms of time, but it does make a good story.


The church building

The church’s very high walls are divided into recesses by means of pilaster strips, i.e. slightly protruding, square-shaped pillars. The top ends of the recesses are finished with arches.

The base is made of hewn granite, while the nave, chancel and apse were built of tufa.

The tower and porch are both more recent additions from the late Middle Ages. As it is known the bell is from 1444, the tower must have been built before that time. Above the porch entrance is a heavily weathered stone that represented a head of Christ and experts suggest that the porch was built in approximately 1440. The tower and the porch were both built in late Gothic style. The porch is made of bricks, and some years ago it was plastered and whitewashed, so the church’s appearance is now completely white. In the gable there are three high recesses with pointed arches.

Both the arched doors have been preserved. The north door has been walled up, while the south door is still in use. There are traces of several of the original windows, which have since been replaced by newer and bigger ones.



The church’s interior


With its flat beam ceiling, the inside of the church seems unusually high and architecturally clean. The nave and the chancel are linked by friezes through the tall, slender chancel arch.

In the chancel door is the Romanesque granite double-font, simply decorated to keep it harmonious with its surroundings. The brass bowl, which lies in the font, is probably from the 1700s.

The beautiful three-winged altarpiece is from 1475-1500 and the central cabinet features a carved Maria figure with two saints in deacon robes at the sides. In the wings you can see the Twelve Apostles in two rows, and above the closet is a small crucifix dating from 1400-1425.

The slender alter candlesticks of lion figures are late Gothic and from the period 1500-1525. The crucifix in the arch is estimated to be from 1300-1400s.

The pulpit is from the Renaissance period and built in 1585 by Anders Snedker (Katkier) from Ribe. The sounding board over the pulpit is from 1603.

The heavy oak door with iron fittings in the porch is believed to be from the 1400s. In the corner of the porch, a roughly hewn granite vessel for holy water has been walled in. The model ship ”Saint Nikolaj” was hung up in 1922.



Author: Ole Steinmeier, Jernved Parish archives


Sources and literature

Ebbe Nyborg, Niels Jørgen Poulsen, Mogens Vedsø and Sissel F. Plathe: Danmarks Kirker, Ribe Amt, 5. bind, København 1994-2003

Jernved Parish archives, see http://gredstedbroegnen.dk/foreninger/sognarkivet/