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Borgring: the discovery of a Viking Age ring fortress

Archaeology, Denmark, History, Viking, Warrior -

Borgring: the discovery of a Viking Age ring fortress

A report on a recent discovery of a massive tenth century Viking fort has been published in Antiquity, Volume 91. The fort was found using the latest in LIDAR technology south of Copenhagen, Denmark and belongs to the Trellborg type of fort, the first to be found in over sixty years. LIDAR involves measuring the ground from an aircraft mounted laser scanner and it reveals abnormalities in the ground sometimes associated with archaeological features. The results revealed a circular feature that mirrored other known Viking forts in size and shape. 

Circular feature marked with red arrow (Image source: Goodchild, H., Holm, N., & Sindbæk, S. (2017). Borgring: The discovery of a Viking Age ring fortress. Antiquity, 91(358), 1027-1042. doi:10.15184/aqy.2017.118)

On the ground, the fort had largely been destroyed by ploughing so that remains were not very discernible. That is until the archaeologists used another scientific method called geophysics. The fluxgate survey measures the disturbance under the ground and gives an indication where ditches and other features may lay. These results are then interpreted by an archaeologist to give a clearer picture of the features.

Top: Fluxgate radiometry survey data. Bottom: interpretation (Source: ibid)  

Excavations followed this work in 2014 to understand the features and to try to acquire dating evidence for this fort. The digging confirmed that the fort was circular with a 144m outer diameter. The rampart was seen to be about 10m wide and clad in wooden posts and planks. Other areas of the ramparts appeared to be stepped on the interior with sods of earth, probably to make defence easier. A north gate was also identified which helped with locating an eastern gate as Trellborg style forts were laid out with four entrances.

Reconstruction of the rampart (source: ibid)

Using radiocarbon dating from some of the wooden material, archaeologists at the Aarhus University were able to date the felling of the trees to between the tenth century and the first two decades of the eleventh century. Unfortunately, the material submitted for radiocarbon dating was not adequate to get a more precise date than that, but it was all the archaeologists had recovered due to the deterioration of the wood over the centuries.

Reconstruction of a Trellborg style fort from the Viking Age (source: Pintrest)

This is an amazing discovery of a once lost Viking fort and hopefully more information about the Viking Age will be revealed from its discovery. To read the full report click HERE

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