The Church of St. Alban in early Odense

An archaeological study of the mutual influences between urbanisation and the formative years of Christianity, from c. AD 900 to AD 1200 using Odense as an example.


“The Church of St. Alban’s in early Odense” is a one-year research project supported by the Ministry of Culture’s Research Committee.

The project is led and carried out by curator Kirstine Haase, Ph. D., in cooperation with curator Mikael Manøe Bjerregaard. Other employees from Odense Bys Museer will also be involved. Kirstine Haase and Mikael Bjerregaard both have extensive experience with excavations in Odense (including the Urban Transformation project from 2013-2018) and research in religious and social aspects of life in the medieval town.


The oldest known depiction of the church of St. Alban’s is found engraved on the back of the altarpiece in St. Knud’s Church

Project Description

The transition from Viking Age to the Medieval Period is marked by two defining moments in Danish history, namely the introduction of Christianity and the development of cities. Christianity had a great influence on the design of cities with the founding of churches, monasteries, and cemeteries. The Christian way of thinking and the practice of Christianity also had a great influence on life in the city and, at the same time, everyday practices permeated religious life. In the project, The Church of St. Alban in early Odense, the mutual influence between the church and city during the transition from the Viking Age to the Medieval Period is investigated through both archaeological and written sources.

The project’s starting point is at the church of St. Alban, Odense, where there is a rich and completely unique source of material. The church of St Alban was the city’s oldest church and it was here that the last Viking King, Canute the Holy, was killed in 1086 and later canonised. Today, due to the cult which grew around Canute the Holy, there is an extensive source of written material from the early Medieval Period called “The Odense Literature”. Additionally, since 1886 and especially over the last 15 years, a unique and extensive dataset has been created through archaeological excavations conducted at and around the site of the former church.

The project will partly revolve around creating an overview of all the sources for St. Alban’s church and the surrounding area. It will also investigate how the interaction between the church and the surrounding city helped shape life in the early Medieval Period.


The killing of King Canute in the church of St Alban’s Priory, as imagined in 1843 by the painter, Christian Albrecht von Benzon.


The project will be publicised on an ongoing basis via a report on the museum’s website, posts on the research centre CENTRUM’s blog, in lectures, and as an article written in English in an internationally recognised archaeological journal.


Kirstine Haase

Mikael Manøe Bjerregaard