Giant fortification of Gråborg

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In the old village of Borg there used to be a very big old strong hold which is among the biggest ancient fortifications in Scandinavia. The village is home to the old Saint Canute chapel and there are a couple of old houses next to the old chapel. Saint Canute was a Danish king who was murdered in the Danish town of Odense in 1086 during a civil war in Denmark. The island of Öland had close ties to Denmark in the first half of the second millennium. There was only a short distance to the Danish border and Danish merchant would frequently travel to Öland to trade with the locals – hence it was natural to name a chapel on the island after a Danish saint.

Old house in the village of Borg

The real attraction of this spot is the remains of the giant fortress of Gråborg. The fortress is the biggest of the 15 ancient round fortresses you can find scattered around the island of Öland. They were in use during the period from around 300 to 700. The locals on the island during this period were raising cattle and in the beginning of the period they would frequently be trading with the Roman Empire. Some people on the island would travel to the Roman Empire and serve in the Roman army – it is possible they got the inspiration to build the fortresses on the island when they served in the Roman army.

The fortress had about 90 buildings within the walls of the fortress. The fortress actually had 9 different entrances which made it easy to get in and out of the fortress. Unfortunately it would also make it easier for an attacking enemy to get inside the fortress so these many entrances were not really favorable to the defense.

Model of the ancient fortress of Gråborg

It is possible the nine entrances was a reference to Norse mythology where the universe consisted of 9 different worlds where the humans lived in Midgaard.

Entrance to Gråborg

After around year 700 the fortress was abandoned and fell into disrepair in the following centuries. The 12th century was once again a period of unrest on the island of Öland and Gråborg were restored. The fortress was once again inhabited from 1175 to 1250.

After the fortress was abandoned again in 1250 it has fallen into disrepair. There is now only the crumbling remains left of the fortress. It is possible to go inside and wonder around the fortress if you like to have a look at the giant old fortress.

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