The Viking Ring Fortress of Trælleborg

The Viking Ring Fortress of Trælleborg is located on the Sjælland (Zealand) island, Denmark. Situated in the proximity of the city of Slagelse, the fortress is one of the five Norse ones in Denmark, the other ones being Aggersborg (located near Limfjorden), Borrering, Fyrkat and Nonnebakken. There are also three additional ring-shaped Norse citadels that were found in Sweden and Norway. The two in Sweden are Trelleborgen situated in the locality of Trelleborg, Scania, and Borgeby (located northward of Lund, in the same southern Swedish province of Scania), whereas the one in Norway is Rygge which is situated near Østfold. The Trelleborg ring fortress is dated 1000 AD, but other estimations put its construction at 981 AD.


Elevated view of the fortress. This circular wooden fortification has an inner diameter of 136 m as well as a rampart width of 19 m. It is estimated that 16 to 30 houses were built within the wooden palisades. Image source:

During the early Middle Ages, this ring-shaped fortification represented an important Norse trading outpost on the island of Sjælland, on a peninsula surrounded by a swamp and two rivers. The swamp was linked to a lake that, along with the two nearby rivers, was navigated by the Norsemen on their Viking longboats. The Norse fortification of Trælleborg is thought to have been built at the orders of the Danish King Harald Bluetooth around 980 AD, placing it strategically between the isles of Sjælland and Fyn (Funen). According to another theory, it is believed that this circular fortress was a military camp set by another Danish Viking king, namely Sweyn Forkbeard, prior sacking London at the round of the 11th century.

A close-up reconstructed depiction of the Norse ring-shaped fortification of Trælleborg. Image source:

This Viking fortress is the best preserved of its kind and also one of the most earliest. Additionally, there is also a museum in Trælleborg that was founded in 1995 which highlights the history of the Norse fortification and of the surrounding area. Various archaeological artefacts were excavated on the site of this fortress and they are exhibited at the local museum or at the National Museum of Denmark based in Copenhagen. Furthermore, in the near future there are plans for a submission of this early medieval landmark to UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Documentation sources and external links:


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