Viking Ring Fortress Update

Four years after its discovery, a Viking ring fortress has begun to offer some answers to archaeologists. First, why was it built at all? Originally, they had theorized it was as a show of force, to deter attacks rather than to actually repel them. Now, they think there was an immediate threat in the area -- other Vikings.
And so fortresses were established right across the kingdom. They was a coastal defence: Rather than being Viking fortresses, they were actually “anti-Viking” fortresses.

It was this hypothesis that led us to discover Borgring.

It suggested that Harold Bluetooth must also have had a fortress to protect the east coast of the country, which turned out to be the case.

What we couldn’t explain was, how exactly the fortresses were used as a defence. And this is where the discoveries made at Borgring can shed some new light.

With this in mind, we can propose a new explanation for the fortresses, and a more direct connection between Harold Bluetooth’s fight on the southern borders and his need for coastal defences in the rest of the country.

The excavations at Borgring have revealed a fortress built to the same design as Trelleborg and the other ring fortresses. We also see that the fortifications were well planned and completed swiftly.

The landscape was levelled, and the walls were built in a precise circle, with gently sloping sides inside the fortress. The interior is divided into even sections, with four wooden gates placed at exactly 90 degrees to each other.

But then… nothing.

There’s no sign of repairs or extensions to the walls, there are only feeble traces of wooden constructions, which could have supported a high wall, and unlike Trelleborg, Fyrkat, and Aggersborg, there are no signs of construction in the interior of the fortress.

But there are traces of a damaging fire in numerous places around the fortress, and deep wheel tracks that suggest long-term use by traffic coming in and out.

How can we explain these features? It is possible that the construction was interrupted prematurely, but in this case we might have expected to see more clear traces of the building process, and we wouldn’t expect to see any later activity.

The wheel tracks suggest that Borgring was sufficiently ready for use, even without the construction of actual buildings or dwellings inside.

Looking at the excavation drawings from Trelleborg made in the 1930s, we see that the fortress walls were built up numerous times, with the oldest phase most similar to the walls at Borgring.

And Borgring is not alone: One of the other fortresses, Nonnebakken, does not appear to have any interior buildings either. This suggests, that the primary function of the fortresses was not to house a permanent settlement, but to allow people to flee there for short periods of time.

This function as a place for refugees to seek shelter, points to a new and stronger connection between the fortresses and Harold Bluetooth’s was against Otto II....

Placed on top of a fortified wall, it was possible for a poorly armed and untrained person, man or woman, to fight off a well-trained warrior.

If enough people sought refuge in the fortress, then the attackers were unlikely to take it. They could initiate a siege, but time would be against them.

The fortresses offered protection to locals, in the absence of the warriors who had be called up to protect the south. This allowed locals to withstand Viking attacks, and provided Harold Bluetooth with a mobile army that he could deploy to the German border.
It's an interesting story.

4 comments:

Eric Blair said...

Makes a lot of sense. Find the book "King Arthur's Wars" which describes possible similar tactics with the ditch and dykes found all over southern England. The author who was an infantry officer, makes a very interesting case.

Grim said...

I have that book, thanks to your having recommended it once before.

Lars Walker said...

Seems entirely plausible to me.

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