– Vallø Borgring”, a unique circular Viking Age fortress in Denmark is still an unsolved chapter in the Viking history.
Archaeologists have for many years excavated at the site trying to get a better understanding of what exactly took place at Borgring. We know that the fortress was deliberately set on fire by someone on the outside, but who did it, is still unclear.
Using metal detectors, a group of amateur archaeologists have now discovered a 1,000-year-old Viking toolbox that can cast more light on this ancient Viking mystery.
The ancient box was found near to the fortress’ east gate. It was hidden under a lump of soil.
“We could see that there was something in the layers [of soil] around the east gate. If it had been a big signal from the upper layers then it could’ve been a regular plough, but it came from the more ‘exciting’ layers. So we dug it up and asked the local hospital for permission to borrow their CT-scanner,” archaeologist Nanna Holm said.
First scans have revealed the ancient tools were made of iron, a metal that was very important to the Vikings. Archeologists estimate that people have been using iron for more than 5,000 years, but finding ancient Viking iron tools does not happen often.
The box contained 14 Viking tools and some of them stood out clearly on the CT-scan like for example, the spoon drills and the drawplate, but others were in too poor condition or contained too little iron to appear on screen.
Vikings used a drawplate to produce thin wire bracelets and spoon drills were used to drill holes in wood.
“My first thought is that this looks like something belonging to a carpenter,” Holm said.
“Vallø Borgring” fortress is large at 475ft (145 meters) from side to side and has four gates. The eastern gate is of special interests. Previous examinations of show the eastern gate is heavily charred and badly destroyed. Archaeologists think that powerful and significant Danish forces attacked the fortress and set the gate on fire. Perhaps these were enemies of legendary King Harald ‘Bluetooth’ , the king of Denmark responsible for making Christianity the country’s official religion.
According to scientists who examined the artifact, the toolbox is the first direct indication that people have lived in the fortress and the eastern gate was inhabited after the fire.
One possibility is that the moat and the east gate were constructed during the latter half of the 10th century. This is also around the time it burnt–albeit the fire was not strong enough to cause a collapse.
“Right now we’re trying to figure out if [the gate house] was used for housing or as a workshop after the fortress was built.
It looks like the fire was brought under control before it spread, and afterwards they laid two layers of clay inside the gate. In each layer we find a fireplace, and we found the toolbox in the youngest layer,” Holm said.
Researchers now hope an x-ray examination of the objects in the toolbox will give more answers and move us closer to solve the mystery of the ancient Vallø Borgring.