Bornholm, Denmark, was a maritime center in the Baltic Sea during the Iron Age. Jewelry, coins and relics from as far away as Rome and the Near East have been discovered on the island and the scant remains of two forts dating from the Viking period can be found in Paradisbakkerne (The Hills of Paradise). The Viking strongholds in Denmark are worth a visit.
It is generally believed that Bornholm became a part of the kingdom of Denmark at around that time. The Gamleborg Viking Fortress was the first fortress of the Danish island, built around 750 AD. The massive fortress is 264 meters (866 ft) long from north to south and 110 meters (360 ft) wide from east to west. It is Bornholm’s oldest defense works.
The Gamleborg fort
The Gamleborg fort was used as refuge during the tenth century against Viking raids and was abandoned in 1150. Excavations in the 1950s showed the fortifications originated in the Viking period although there is evidence the site was used as a hideout in the Iron Age. The ruins that can be seen today are mainly the result of reconstruction work completed in about 1100.
Almindigen (‘the common’) is one of Denmark’s largest forests, covering 3,800 hectares (9,400 acres), with a number of walking paths, one leading to Gamleborg. Almindingen was fenced in for forestry in 1809 by Hans Rømer, the forest supervisor.
Perched on a huge rocky knoll on the northwest corner of the island are the impressive ruins of Hammershus. The castle was built around 1200 to defend the island against attack, and is today Scandinavia’s largest castle ruin. At the time the castle was built, Bornholm was owned by the Archbishop of Lund (in what is now southern Sweden, but then a part of Denmark).The archbishop was openly at war with the kings of Denmark.
Viking Strongholds in Denmark
Strong separatist feelings still exist among some Bornholmers. Their banner is a Danish flag with a green cross, instead of the familiar white one.
Feature image (on top) From Gamleborg fort
Viking Strongholds in Denmark, written by Tor Kjolberg