Viking ring fortess

10:07 PM

When the Viking ring (also known as Trelleborg) fortresses were discovered in Denmark, researchers were surprised: to a great extent, it came to light that they had previously underestimated both the Vikings’ organizational and technical capabilities of building military installations that would keep their enemies at a distance.

Eight of them have been dated to around 980 CE – the reign of King Gorm the Old’s son, King Harald I Bluetooth of Denmark (from who the Bluetooth technology has it's name).



These are:

-Aggersborg near Limfjorden, Denmark.
-Borgeby north of Lund at Lödde Å in Skåne, modern Sweden.
-Borrering near Køge, Zealand, Denmark
-Fyrkat near Hobro, Denmark.
-Nonnebakken in Odense, Denmark.
-Trelleborg near Slagelse, Denmark.
-Trelleborgen in Trelleborg, Skåne, modern Sweden
-Rygge, Østfold, Norway

The fortresses are characterized by a ring rampart with an appurtenant moat and four covering gate openings. They had a rigorous geometric street system, a division of the internal surface area into four square-shaped blocks. Within each of these blocks, there were four longhouses positioned in the form of farmhouses constructed around a quadrangle. All of the four facilities have a uniform and rigorous geometric architecture and a stringent symmetry, which clearly manifests itself in the fortifications’ circular forms and the gate openings’ placement with respect to the four corners of the world. Some historians think that the geometric design of the Trellenborgs was inspired by old Roman army camps. It has been estimated that the Trelleborg fortresses were built sometime around the year 980 A.D. However, it seems plausible to assume that the fortresses might not have been in existence for very long. And maybe they were operative for only a few years. We are quite sure, for example, that Fyrkat was wiped out after a raging conflagration and that it was not rebuilt.

Notwithstanding their homogeneity, each one of the fortresses has its own individual constructional features. The diameter of Aggersborg, for example, is 240 meters, which is roughly twice that of the other fortresses. At Trelleborg, there is a bailey consisting of 15 longhouses and protected by an outer rampart of its own, as well a trench. Cemeteries with remains of the Viking Era have been found at Fyrkat and Trelleborg.


When one arrived as a visitor to the fortresses, they must have appeared overwhelmingly impressive on account of their earthworks, their thick wooden palisades and their high moats and they probably seemed virtually impossible to conquer.

One moved through the gateway of the fortress and the ring ramparts, from where the guards stood and kept watch on whomever was arriving and suddenly found him/herself standing in the midst of the fortress’s layout, which was teeming with life. Taking the standards of the past into consideration, the houses, measuring more than 7 meters in width and almost 30 meters in length, with their outwardly bulging long walls, must have made their effect on the viewer as large halls of some sort.

When we also take into account that at Trelleborg and Fyrkat, there were four square-shaped blocks arranged around quadrangles while at Aggersborg, there were sixteen such square-shaped blocks with longhouses, it is easy to envision and sense the power that lay behind the construction of these fortresses.

The longhouses themselves were divided into three rooms, of which the middle room measured about 20 meters in length and was, in a number of instances, fitted with a langild (a long Iron Age/Viking fireplace, as opposed to a round or square one). Here the Vikings’ troops were quartered. It was here that they slept, repaired their personal equipment and played games that involved tossing dice.

From several of the halls, shouting, singing and laughter could be heard. But not all the houses were used as residences. From the blacksmith’s workshop, the hammer’s clanking against the anvil mingled with the joyful shouts and inside the storehouse buildings, the arithmetician might have quietly and calmly been busy checking on the army’s supplies – the rations would have to last for the whole winter. The short life and rapid abandonment of these fortress shows that political change at the end of the 10th century must have made them unnecessary.


reconstruction of the wall
















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