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Trelleborg Viking Fortress – The Viking Fortress of King Harald Bluetooth

Trelleborg Viking-Age ring fortress was built in AD 980 during the reign of King Harald Bluetooth.

The Viking Fortress is located c. 3 km east of the Great Belt between two rivers, occupies a good strategic position with expansive views, and is protected on all sides. Trelleborg consists of a main fortress and an outer ward. The main fortress was fortified with a circular rampart clad with an oak palisade. The front of the palisade reached almost 8 m in height, and the rampart was further fortified with a V-shaped ditch running along the circular fortress.

There are four gateways in the circular rampart, one at each principal point of the compass. The inside of the main fortress was divided into quadrants by two wood-paved axial streets. These ran between the gate ways and met at right angles at the center, thereby forming the main axes within the fortress. In each of the quadrants, a block comprising four identical longhouses (Trelleborg-type houses) was built around an enclosed yard. The Trelleborg-type longhouses were, like the fortress, characterized by uniformity and symmetry. Each of the 29.4 m-long buildings was divided into three rooms. There was a middle room (hall) of about 18 m in length and a width of c. 8 m; several of these were found to contain a central stone-set hearth. The two gable rooms were both shorter and narrower.

Outside the rampart of the main fortress a ward/bailey had been built, containing 15 longhouses and a cemetery. The ward was similarly protected by an outer rampart with a gateway. The longhouses were 26.5 m long and had similarly curved longitudinal walls. The houses were radially arranged, with their longitudinal axes pointing towards the precise centre of the circular rampart.

Trelleborg is the best fortified and best preserved of five Danish ring fortresses. They are all included in UNESCO’s tentative list of World Heritage Sites. The fortresses are thus assessed to be cultural heritage of unique universal significance and therefore suitable for inclusion on the World Heritage List. The fortresses have submitted an application for inclusion on UNESCO World Heritage List and are awaiting a decision.

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Trelleborg Viking Museum

The museum is open to the public during the season which runs from 1st April to 31th October. There is currently access to the outdoor areas all year outside opening hours. The museum building contains exhibition areas, offices, reception with ticket sales and shop, café, toilets etc. The exhibition presents and interprets the history of Trelleborg, the finds from the fortress and other ring fortresses, life and events of the time, and Trelleborg and the fortresses in the Viking-Age context, in Danish and English. In addition to interpretive panels and models, original finds from the excavations in the 1930s and 1940s are displayed in addition to Denmark´s only Viking shield, which was found at Trelleborg in 2008. An outdoor interpretive panel display about the Viking-Age and the fortress is located in the vicinity of the reconstructed longhouse.

The museum and the municipality are in the process of developing and expanding the Museum with a new project: ‘New Trelleborg’. The intention is to establish a new International Adventure and Knowledge Centre which can form the basis for research, interpretation, presentation and education of a high standard and which will ensure fruitful co-operation between these activities. Included in the project are also reconstructions of a number of longhouses and a section of the fortress.

Trelleborg Viking Museum offers interpretive programs, presentation and education ‘on location’, i.e. in one of the places where people lived and fought more than 1000 years ago. With the realization of the project ‘New Trelleborg’, it will be possible to incorporate interpretations and presentations of recent research results and provide museum visitors with an analogue as well as an interactive experience of the Viking-Age.

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