Home Features Best of 2014 BEST OF 2014 // #82: Topographical Maps reveal Viking City

BEST OF 2014 // #82: Topographical Maps reveal Viking City

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BEST OF 2014 // #82: Topographical Maps reveal Viking City
Nanna Holm, curator of the Danish Castle Center, looks over the charred remains of wooden posts and postholes during a partial excavation of the Vallø Viking fortress OJPHOTOS/Alamy Live News

A farmer’s field, about 35 miles southwest of Copenhagen has attracted no attention for centuries.  When the Danish government created super precise maps in 2009, the ripples of land in rural Vallø became version interesting indeed.

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“We knew there was something out there, but we thought it was Iron Age, 800 years before the Vikings, so nobody was interested in it,”
– Nanna Holm, curator of the Danish Castle Center.

Holm was the first to notice that the new topographical maps matched an outline of a Viking fortress.  The maps were issued in 2012, and originally meant to identify areas at increased risk of flooding.

Holm’s identification of the massive 475-foot fortress was confirmed after a partial excavation last summer.  The fortress is perfect circular, with four entry points lined up exactly to the four compass points; a style that is uniquely Danish Viking and known as Trelleborg.

Danish Castle Center/Aarhus University

It’s the first new Viking fortress discovered in more than 60 years.

Researchers dated the fortress to 10th Century AD, putting it under the reign of the first king of a united Denmark, King Harald Bluetooth.

“New technologies mean new possibilities to answer old questions…Something happened during Harald’s reign that created Denmark. We don’t know how the state was created, but this fortress may help us answer that….”

There’s 99 more stories from 2014.  Check out the Best of 2014 series here

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