The Danish churches provided the foundation for Danish genealogy research
The Danish churches produced millions and millions of records through the centuries. They are all online if they are older than 50 years.
“Folkekirken” – “The People’s Church”
The Danish “Folkekirken” or “The Danish National Evangelical Lutheran Church” serves well over 75 percent of the Danish population or 4.3 million people. It has 2,354 churches spread over 2,123 parishes. A significant proportion of the churches are so-called medieval churches. Many of them are small, whitewashed churches that lie between fields and meadows surrounded by graveyards and stone walls. About 1,800 of them remain, but in the Middle Ages, there were far more, i.e. up to 2,692.
The first churches
The people built the first Danish churches in the 8th century in Schleswig and Ribe with royal permission. The majority of our present churches from the Middle Ages are Romanesque and probably from the 12th century and the first part of the 13th century.
None of these wooden churches are preserved. But we have a number of churches with parts of the last part of the 11th century. They are most likely the oldest in the country. It is yet not possible to tell which church is the oldest in Denmark, but a good guess is Sankt Jørgensbjerg Church in Roskilde, where parts of the nave’s masonry is from around 1080.
See Sankt Jørgensbjerg Church in a historical contaxt.
Churches have been closed
It is not common to close a Danish church today, but it was in the period after the Middle Ages. They were removed because chapels, monasteries, and the like lost their function and importance as a result of the Protestant Reformation. Or because it became too difficult to financially support the local church in sparsely populated areas. For these reasons, several hundred churches remain only as traces of themselves or as visible ruins in today’s Denmark. These so-called deserted churches are important historical artifacts, and 133 of them are listed.