|Fig 1 - A Trelleborg fortress today|
|Fig 2 - Plans of three Trelleborg sites|
|Fig 3 - Reconstruction by Holger Schmidt of Firkat|
|Fig 4 - Reconstruction of a house|
|Fig 5 - Realm of Harald Bluetooth|
|Fig 6 - Harald's runestone at Jelling|
|Fig 7 - Bluetooth runes|
The Trelleborg fortresses are important as monuments of Harald Bluetooth's reign, and as a good example of the unusual practice of circular urban design (Smith 2007; Johnston 1983). But perhaps most importantly, their discovery and excavation overturned existing ideas of the urban accomplishments of the Vikings. In the words of Roesdahl,
[The discovery of] Trelleborg causes a sensation. Nobody had thought the barbaric Vikings able to plan, organise or construct such a sophisticated structure, and the learned world conseequently had to rethink their concept of Vikings. (p.208)
Brink, Stefan and Neil Price (editors)
2008 The Viking World. Routledge, New York.
Johnston, Norman J.
1983 Cities in the Round. University of Washington Press, Seattle.
1987 The Danish Geometrical Viking Fortresses and their Context. Anglo-Norman Studies 9:208-226.
Smith, Michael E.
2007 Form and Meaning in the Earliest Cities: A New Approach to Ancient Urban Planning. Journal of Planning History 6(1):3-47.
*** ONE of my favorite historical novels is The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson, which starts with the end of Harald Bluetooth's reign and follows its Viking protagonists for several decades. According to a book review by NPR.org: "Even though The Long Ships was first published in 1941, it remains the literary equivalent of an action-and intrigue-filled adventure movie that won't insult your intelligence...Bengtsson is an infectiously enthusiastic and surprisingly funny writer--even readers with zero interest in the Europe of a millennium ago will want to keep turning the pages." How can one not like a book whose characters have names like Sven Forkbeard and Ragnar Hairy-Breeks?