The parish of Hvalsø is situated in a terrain characterized by wooden areas, rolling hills and deep valleys. From prehistoric time people have lived here, which dolmens and burial mounds from the Bronze Age bear witness to.
In the centre of the parish a large lake offered easy access to water and good opportunities for a settlement which came to be known as Hvalsø. The settlement was subsequently split into a northern and a southern hamlet, Nørre Hvalsø and Kirke Hvalsø. When Christianity was introduced in Denmark, Hvalsø church was built centrally on a hill in Kr. Hvalsø* in the 13th Century.
The first mentioning of Hvalsø is found in an old document from 1253, where it is spelt Hvelpsøy. Etymologically the first syllable ‘hvelp’ indicates a ‘cub’, probably referring to cubs of either dog, wolf or bear.
Gradually the lake was overgrown and in 1793 it covered just 6 hectares. The small artificial island in today’s lake is called “Kristiansø”, named after the first mayor of the municipality of Hvalsø, Kristian Nielsen, a notable politician popularly referred to as King Kristian.
Kr. Hvalsø originally consisted of just 12 farms and a vicarage.
The lands between Kr Hvalsø and Jerndalen were called Kildemarken* after 3 holy springs in the valley which marked the boundary between Sonnerup and Hvalsø. They were known as the Springs of the Virgins as a legend has it that 3 virgins were murdered here. The springs were considered curative and on Midsummer’s Eve, when the healing powers of the water were considered most profuse, a local market was held on the location. The worshipping of the springs wore off in the 1870’s and with the introduction of the Northwestern railway line to Kalundborg in 1874, the market was moved to Hvalsø Station in 1877. For a number of years cattle markets were held 4 times a year as the railway provided easy access to the transportation of cattle.
The development of Hvalsø as a market town thrived. The inn keeper from Buske built a hotel with a grocer’s shop near the station, and as people lost faith in the curative powers of the holy water the need for a pharmacy arose. Hvalsø Apotek was opened in 1872.
However, as vehicles took over from the railway as a means of transportation towards WWII, the markets were finally closed down.
The municipality of Hvalsø was formed in 1971 with the merger of the parishes of Hvalsø, Kisserup, Såby and Særløse. With the local government reform in 2007 the municipalities of Hvalsø, Lejre and Bramsnæs merged and took on the name Lejre Municipality. In 2016 the number of inhabitants in Hvalsø were 4119, in Lejre Municipality 27,333.
Kr: the abbreviation used for ‘kirke’, meaning ‘church’