Gamleborg Viking Fortress

Gamleborg was the seat of the kings of Bornholm during the viking age as well as a place of refuge for the island population during pirate raids and invasions from neighboring tribes and rulers. When the baunebål signal fires were lit, people immediately left their homes and fled to Gamleborg and safety. Bornholm has been known by several names in the sources we know today - the Englishman Wulfstan called it Burganda Land shortly before 900, and Adam of Bremen called it Holm in 1075.

The Southwestern entrance into Gamleborg viking castle

The only part of Gamleborg that was built as a permanent construction was the wall, which exists till this day. The king's castle and the living quarters for the varied population in the fortress were made of materials that have not survived. Gamleborg was built around 750 AD as the residence of the king of Bornholm and continued as such until it was finally abandoned. There is a water pool at the Northwestern side of the fortress which functioned as the fortress water supply.

The wall is the best preserved part of Gamleborg

The part of the wall that was built during the viking age was made of rocks and boulders set in clay. Many of the building materials were from the courtyard, making it more level and useable. Substantial changes which are visible today were made around 1100, after the viking age. Shortly after these changes the fortress was abandoned in favour of the new Lilleborg Castle 700 meters Northwest of Gamleborg.

The inside of Gamleborg, specifically the Southern end of the fortress

Gamleborg fortress is 264 meters long North-South and 110 meters wide East-West. It has a gate in North and in the Southwestern end. There used to be a gate at the South end, but it was filled up and the Southwestern gate was created instead.

The Western wall of Gamleborg Viking Fortress

When Gamleborg was operational, the main wall around the gates was supplemented by a moat and an outer wall as well. The East and West sides are naturally protected by the steep sides, but the North and South sides needed extra protection and had 6 meter high walls erected.

The North gate is currently being reconstructed

The North gate is currently under reconstruction, bringing at least part of the fortress back to its former glory.

There is a path around the entire wall - here the East wall of Gamleborg

The path on top of the wall goes all the way around Gamleborg and gives a good impression of its size, especially from the Western side of the fortress which is not covered by trees. This is the Northeastern side of the wall, looking South.

This is the South wall as it looks across the valley today - the top of the wall is 22 meters above the valley floor

This is how the South wall of Gamleborg looks today from across the Echo Valley South of Gamleborg. The base of Gamleborg is 22 meters up, behind the tree line. Gamleborg is located at the center of Bornholm at Almindingen, a few hundred meters from the highest point of the island, Rytterknægten, which is 165 meters above sea level. Currently ongoing research indicates that this might not have been the biggest viking fortress on Bornholm - the area around Rispebjerg on South Bornholm is being looked at as having been one very large fortification, several square kilometers large.


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