Ancient fortress of Eketorp

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The ancient settlement on Öland had the advantage they could grow their crops on the island and have easy access to supplies from the sea and travel to other destinations around the Baltic Sea to exchange ideas. The flip side of this great location was the fact other people could easily reach the island over the sea and an enemy force could pretty much arrive from the sea to anywhere on the island in a matter of less than an hour.

The model of the fortress

To protect themselves against the frequent attacks which happened in the 4th century the locals decided to move into fortified villages where they could spend their nights and protect themselves and their livestock against possible attacks from the sea. One of these fortifications is called Eketorp.

4th century fortress of Eketorp

The fortress was founded around the 4th century and about 150 to 200 people who live within the protective wall of the round fortress. The people lived within the walls of the fortress for around 300 years and then they suddenly moved away – it isn’t clear why the people left the fortified position – possibly the area temporarily got more peaceful so there no longer was a need for the people to stay inside the walls of the fortress for protection.

The fortress was abandon for the next five centuries and then suddenly the fortress was populated again in the 12th century. During the beginning of the 12th century the national states were beginning to be formed around Scandinavia and Europe. The period was a time of unrest with many raids from across the sea – there is a reason the Vikings had a reputation for raiding and other people on the Baltic coast would join in the raiding as well. The worst part of the Baltic for the raids was actually Öland since it was so easy to get to the island over sea from most of the Baltic area. Hence the people here build more fortified positions per square mile than anywhere else in present day Sweden.

During the 12th century the old walls of the village was repaired and the fortification was improved with a watch tower so the residents could have a clear view over the flat area surrounding the village.

12th century houses in the fortress of Eketorp

After a while the island became more peaceful and the fortress became once again abandoned. The fortress deteriorated and there wasn’t much left. In present time it was decided to reconstruct the old fortress at the current location and make a living museum to tell the history of the fortress of Ekelund. We went to the fortress to explore the old fortress – there is a museum but we arrived too late in the day to go inside the museum – but we could still walk inside the walls of the village and have a look at the reconstructed houses in the village.

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