During the reign of King Harald Bluetooth – yes he is the man they named Bluetooth after – there was a massive construction project going on across the Danish kingdom. He builds a series of ring fortresses. These fortress were on a scale never seen before and he didn’t just build one he built a collection of these fortress all across his new kingdom of Denmark to make his mark all over the land.
Nobody really knows what they were used for. The massive buildings were built in just one or two years and could be used as a defensive position near many important areas in Denmark. But they were only used for a very short period of time and then they were abandoned, burnt down and left to disappear out of history.
The fortress actually disappeared completely and they were completely forgotten until the 20th century when they were rediscovered. Archeologist found 6 ring fortress or trelleborge spread across the old Danish territory. Five were located in Denmark and two are in Scania which is now Swedish territory. You might think this was it – everything from the Viking age had been discovered – but this was not the case.
The ring fortress were found spread across the country at important strategic locations and the archeologist wondered why they had found a fortress on the eastern part of the island Zealand. There really should be one somewhere around this area since it was thought to be an important and rich area. They decided to start searching for the missing fortress. It turned out there had been taken aerial photos of an area just outside the city of Køge in 1970. These photos showed an unknown round structure in the ground – but nothing was done no excavation was done.
Finally in 2013 a group of archeologist was looking at the photos again and decided there might be something worth investigating at this field next to the main motorway. They started investigating and in 2014 they realized they had found Borgring another ring fortress – so history had to be changed – now there was 7 ring fortress and not just 6 as previously believed.
The archeologist was given three years to excavate the area before it was opened to the public. So fortunately the excavation is over so you can go and see the area.
We head down there – unfortunately the area is closed but the fence around the area isn’t really closing it off so we can head into the area – like another family of visitors – obviously we couldn’t get into the museum at the location.
We go in and up to have a look from above at a little entrance gate with a stair to the top. From here we can see the area. There really isn’t a lot to see since there is nothing left of the original fortress – the mound around the fortress is gone so the only thing you can see is some markers they have put at the location of the fortress.
The fortress was actually without any buildings inside – so it was basically only a mound of dirt in a large circle with some wooden palisades. The circle was cut four places in each corner of the world where there was an entry gate to the fortress. It is uncertain what the fortress was actually used for since the absence of buildings meant you could house and army at this location for any significant period of time. So the archeologist speculates the fortress was actually mainly a ceremonial piece of construction. The place was actually burnt down deliberately a few years after it was constructed – nobody really knows why but there is no sign of a battle near the fortress.
We go and explore the area. Walking to the fortress you pass a series of large posters. These posters tell about different military strongpoints which have been built across Denmark through the history of Denmark. you work your way back in time starting with the story of Stevns Fortet which were one of two large fortress in Denmark during the cold war which were built to try and keep the Soviet Fleet blocked inside the Baltic Sea and prevent them from reaching the Atlantic in case of a conflict. Fortunately the fortress was never used. The story of the defensive strong point continues backwards with the story of the fortifications around Copenhagen finally you come back to the Viking era when the ring fortress was built.
Around the fortress are more large posters telling the story of how the area was excavated. It is interesting to read about the excavation – and it is really what there is to see since there is nothing else to see on the ground.