Greenland: Tjodhildes Church

NordenBladet – Tjodhilde was credited for Erik the Red’s conversion to Christianity and the building of the first church on the North American continent.

Tjodhilde’s husband, Erik the Red, had the honour of being the first European to set foot in Greenland, and their son, Leif Eriksson, was the man who not only brought Christianity to the Viking community in Greenland, but was also the first European to make landfall in North America, some 500 years before Columbus.

Tjodhilde herself, however, also achieved remarkable feats: It was she who was behind the first Christian church on the North American continent in Brattahlid, and it was also she who converted her warlike, pagan husband to Christianity.

Today, more than 1000 years later, Tjodhilde’s wish concerning the erection of a church has in a way been fulfilled once again.

Since the start of the new millennium, travellers to the south of Greenland have had the chance to visit accurate reconstructions of Tjodhilde’s Church and Erik the Red’s longhouse.

The reconstructions in Qassiarsuk, which is the Greenlandic name for Brattahlid, are built in turf and timber not far from where the original church was sited.

The internal dimensions of the church are just 2 x 3.5 metres (6.5 x 11.5 feet) and although it is a bit of a squeeze, there is actually room for 20 – 25 people.

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