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Holiday RAIDING; Get to grips with Vikings in Denmark.

Byline: Jessica Mellor

SHAVING off slices of cured venison with a Viking sword, I felt like I'd time-travelled back to 900 AD.

In fact I'd gone to Denmark to discover more about the Danes' proud heritage - shown to great effect in hit TV drama Vikings.

And I was in the heart of Viking country in Roskilde, 45 minutes out of the capital Copenhagen, being cooked lunch outside by modern-day warrior... well, chef Jesper Lynge.

Dressed in leather Viking attire and sporting a fine beard, Jesper is so proud of his country he immerses himself in the food, clothes and customs of his forefathers.

After a delicious venison soup cooked in an iron pot over a fire, washed down with local beer, I left Jesper and headed to Roskilde's Viking Ship Museum.

It's all about quality not quantity here as the museum has only five pieces on display - remains of Viking ships found at Skuldelev dating back to 1050. There are two longships, a fishing boat and two trade ships. All provide a solidly real link to a fascinating and bloody past.

Travel Next stop was the Land of Legends at Lejre. This open-air museum brings Viking settlements to life. Visitors can dress up, learn archery and recreate the lives of villagers from ancient times.

I rested my weary head at the Comwell Hotel in Roskilde. Stylish Scandinavian touches of clean lines and modern furniture made snuggly with furs dominate this friendly hotel. And they serve a decent buffet breakfast, with Danish sausages, crispy bacon, eggs and an impressive selection of cheese and ham.

Jelling, also known as home of the Viking kings, was next on the agenda. The Experience Centre stands in the middle of the landscape that was the focal point of King Harald Bluetooth's rise to power.

Free to get in, the centre provides a fabulous sensory experience.

Kids will love the gory fallen warrior exhibit, which shows how long someone would take to die from different wounds.

In the centre's grounds stands King Harald's rune stone, which has been there for 1,000 years and is known as the birthstone of Denmark.

The markings are a proclamation from Harald that he christianised Denmark. Its smaller sister stone, 50 years older, is the first to have "Denmark" written on it.

I took a break from the Vikings in Odense, the third biggest city in Denmark on the island of Funen. It's where storyteller Hans Christian Andersen was born - and where I went for a touch of retail therapy in department store Magasin.

At the Munkebo Kro Hotel, in the seaside village of the same name, I opted for a Viking-themed room which basically meant lots of animal pelts, Viking art and low lighting.

There is a lot more to this Scandinavian treasure than just Vikings. With 406 islands, of which 70 are inhabited, you are never too far from lovely beaches.

The winter weather provides a dramatic backdrop to this green, flat and pleasant land. But spring and summer are good times to visit if and sum you want to take advantage of daylight hours stretching from 4.30am until 10pm.

A massive pull for families is the Legoland Billund resort - the original Legoland park. There's a Lego town made from millions of pieces of the classic Danish brick, terrific rides, the Lalandia waterpark and Givskud zoo.

The history of the Vikings might be in the blood of the Danes but at the heart of Denmark is its beautiful capital Copenhagen.

I went to visit the iconic Little Mermaid, the bronze statue based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, and marvelled at how pretty she is, even though she's 102.

I rounded off my trip with a wander into the unique area of Freetown Christiania, an autonomous hippy neighbourhood full of colourful buildings and even more colourful characters.

And this final stop on my tour of Denmark pretty much summed the place up. It is a country as proud of its infamous Viking heritage as it is of its Scandinavian quirkiness.

FACTFILE: Return flights to Copenhagen start at PS270 from Double rooms at Comwell Hotel start from PS100, including breakfast, Double rooms at Munkebo Kro start from PS105 including breakfast, For more on Denmark, see Vikings Season 3 is out on Blu-ray and DVD or own the full story so far with Vikings Season 1-3 on DVD.



NOW AND DEN: Jess at Land of Legends and the Little Mermaid

ROCK LEGENDS Rune stones at Jelling, home of the Viking kings

HANDS ON: Viking chef Jesper
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion Column
Publication:The People (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUDE
Date:Nov 22, 2015
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