Karlsstenen or “Karl’s Stone” is a well-preserved Neolithic burial mound or “dolmen” in Denmark’s Northwest Zealand region. Comprised of a mound of stones, Karlsstenen is located in a forest known as Gronnese Skov.
The tomb Karlsstenen is from around 3,500-3,300 BC, the legend being it was thrown by a giant from Jægerspris towards nearby Torup Church, a 12th century Romanesque church in the Viking age town. During the Neolithic period, Denmark had contact with other farming communities in Europe, but it was later, around 3,900 BC, that people began tilling the land and keeping animals.
Tombs or dolmans such as Karlsstenen were constructed all over Denmark as grave monuments for farmers. Inside, relatives would also leave polished flint axes and amber beads left to the gods in exchange for a good harvest.
Karlsstenen likely gained its name due to Count Carl of Hesse, who owned the estate where Karlsstenen is located between 1792-1804. Afterwards, the land passed to Carl’s son-in-law. Crown Prince Frederik VI, who in 1808 became the last king of Norway and Denmark. Under Frederik, Denmark entered a period of ‘enlightened despotism’ in which serfdom was abolished and various reforms following the French Revolution were implemented.
In the late 19th century, Denmark became part of the Scandinavian money union with Sweden, but member countries still issued their own currencies. In 1908, Karlsstenen was chosen to be the main motif on the new Danish five-krone banknote issued by Dansmarks Nationalbank.
Today, you can visit the one-metre high, two-metre long stone tomb which is incredibly well preserved and lies in the scenic Grønnæssegård woodland. Visitors can really appreciate the immense age of the burial chamber consisting of several upright megaliths and covered by one or two larger stones. The chamber is partly hidden by a surrounding mound of large stones.
Within the estate, you can also visit Grønnessegaard Gods, a heritage site which allows you to explore the estate as it was in the 17th-18th century.
Getting to Karlsstenen
You can reach Karlsstenen by heading to Grønnessegaard Gods, which is located just off the Amtsvejen 16, a one-hour drive from Copenhagen, and has car-parking. The nearest bus stop is Vink – Sverkilstrupvejen (Amtsvejen) on the 326 bus route, from which Karlsstenen is a 850m walk.
Denmark Historic Sites
Explore the Viking past at Jelling or visit the setting of Shakespeare's Hamlet at Kronborg Castle. Denmark's historic sites are wide-ranging and beguiling.