Kronborg Stories Untold: Tales and Destinies from the Depths of Danish History aims to give voice to the people who rarely make it into history books. We want to give the painter, the bricklayer, the mason, the cannon master, the caretaker, the guard, and the cleaner the platform they deserve.
These are the people who have dedicated their craftsmanship, professionalism, passion, attention – and a large part of their lives – to the maintenance of one of the most important Renaissance castles in the world.
The following pages hold their stories. Moments from their lives, their wild and varied paths to Kronborg, and their takes on what makes the castle so unique that CNN Travel named it one of the most beautiful castles in Denmark in January 2020.
It also contains 14 other more historical tales from Danish history. They are fictionalized stories based in truth illustrating the beginning, the downfall and the heyday periods of the castle’s life. They are tales of legendary vikings, imprisoned queens, duelling actors and toiling slaves, together creating a tapestry of destiny, intertwining the castle’s people of the past with those of today.
This book aims to provide a sensory experience. As an inspirational and thought-provoking insight into the home of Shakespeare’s mad king Hamlet, it wants to give you a glimpse of the people who have danced, cried and lived out their dreams within the castle walls – and a peek into the small, welcoming and committed ‘family’ we can thank for the ability to follow in these historical footsteps. Kronborg Stories Untold: Tales and Destinies from the Depths of Danish History offers a heartfelt journey of the castle whether you have already seen it, have never have heard of it, or maybe plan on visiting someday.
A historical take on the day-to-day
The people you will meet through the pages of this book have been shaped by the ups and downs of life. There is the mason who battled and beat leukaemia in his youth and now speaks to the ‘ghosts’ of those he lost while hospitalised; then there’s a modern painter who always felt most comfortable in trousers while living a life at odds with the world, similar to the young Queen Caroline Mathilde, who opted for trousers and men’s clothing—unheard of at the time—sparking much ado until she one day found herself locked up at Kronborg Castle while her lover was executed and her children taken away.
The 14 life stories from 2020 and the 14 tales that follow from the craftsmen, prisoners, maids, and soldiers of the castle’s history – aspire to link the lives of today with the lives of the past. We tell the stories of modern people while shining a light on our shared history. We lift the veil on the people with intimate knowledge of today’s castle while showing snippets of events from throughout the location’s history, many of which still impact us today.
We honour the tradition of secrets, seen in messages hidden under tiles or obscured in artwork on the castle walls by masons, painters, carpenters, and other craftspeople, leaving their marks for generations to come. These are heretofore the untold stories.
The people behind the book
Anja Klemp Vilgaard
Ever since Anja started her carrier as a young journalist at the national Danish daily ‘Politiken’ more than 20 years ago, she has been fascinated with storytelling and its ability to bring people together.
“We understand the world through stories” she often says when teaching corporate storytelling for Danish as well as international companies. “None of us experiences the world through facts. We filter it through former observations, marinate it in the historical time that we are a part of, and rarely use rational thinking when forming opinions. Storytelling controls a lot on a subconscious level, and that’s why it helps us make sense of challenges and form values in both private and business life,” she says.
Anja believes stories come in many shapes and forms: fairy tales, memoirs, anecdotes, news, jokes, speeches, business cases and much more – but the commonality between them all is, that they are told by, for and about people.
“Stories are shared, because they entertain, shed light on complex realities, open the doors to our differences and make us capable of understanding each other. If we listen, our mutual stories hold a lot of truth, fruit for thought and an invitation to community,” Anja says, explaining that this is exactly her reasoning for diving into Kronborg Castle’s past and present with the book, ‘Kronborg Stories Untold’.
“Get Ajour Storytelling Agency is situated at Kronborg and I slowly realized that this place is so much more than just a pretty, impressive and historical site. Kronborg Castle is actually a ‘time capsule’ where the bricklayers, carpenters, stone masons and plumbers of the past leave messages for the artisans of today. Its handmade walls have seen extravagant parties, indescribable pain and so many tales of destiny. The more I asked questions, the more this palace embedded itself into my heart,” Anja says, adding that she hopes Get Ajour Publishing’s newest book opens the doors to a UNESCO World Heritage Site even wider, revealing more of its long-hidden histories.
Anders Espersen Marlow
Anders has 30 years of experience in creating the exact expression and story required by his clients. His images are built from the ground up and the technology plays an active part herein.
Think and shoot! Such is the formula of a day in Anders Espersen Marlow´s universe – a universe of story telling images, focus on the details and a steady hand when it comes to finding the right expression. The correct image storytelling requires both insight and the ability to get up and close with the subject he is photographing – and then naturally the right lighting conditions, the right setting and the right equipment.
“I am no street- or reportage photographer. My reality is constructed. I work very different from the press photographer who captures a snapshot of reality and often covers several stories in a day. I usually build up a scenario. It can can look coincidental or random but then it needs to serve a purpose” he says, and adds that his style and post processing requires thorough mental preparation and time to achieve.
“When I first started with the Kronborg-book, it became this project which very quickly grew on me and I am deeply grateful for the trust placed in me and for the numerous hours everyone in the book has spent with me in the process” says Anders Espersen Marlow who is happy to have been a witness to the everyday life of the employees of the castle as they were followed by his camera.
“It has been an amazing experience to be able to see areas of this castle which most people will never be able to and to witness the incredible commitment from each of these individuals – and to benefit from their understanding that good photography is not done with in just an hour.”
Kronborg stories untold has been published with support from the Lemvigh-Müller Foundation and the Danish Arts Foundation