Gamleborg Fortress

Gamleborg Fortress

GPS : 55.1136667,14.9066667

Gamleborg Fortress

Gamleborg, also known as Gamleborg Viking Fortress, was the first fortress &  royal castle on the Danish island of Bornholm

Centrally located on a large ridge in Almindingen forest,  it was built around 750 AD, it was the seat of the kings of Bornholm during the Viking age (750–1050) and early Middle Ages (1050–1150).

The castle was in use in during the reign of  King Harald Blåtands ( 940-986 ) and Canute the Holy ( 1080-1086 )

The massive fortress is 264 metres (866 ft) long from north to south and 110 metres (360 ft) wide from east to west, with gates to the north and southwest. Around 1100, significant alterations were made and it was reinforced, but it was abandoned soon afterwards in favour of Lilleborg Castle, roughly 700 metres (2,300 ft) to the northeast.

Plan Map

Gamleborg has several construction phases. Excavations in 1951-55 revealed that the castle was founded in the Viking Age. The design dates back to the Iron Age folk refuge castles, which was used in times of unrest . Originally the fortifications comprised of massive boulder defences cemented with earth & clay, taken from the large castle courtyard . To the north and south were gateways, the outer castle was fortified with moats and outer walls.

Inside the castle courtyard there is a small pond, now overgrown, which acted as the castles water supply.

Later the castle was renovated in the middle ages around 1100 AD.  Along the outside of the old west defences the fortifications were reinforced with a 275 m long, 2 m wide and up to 6 meters high massive stone wall.

A guard tower was built  on top of the old moat to the northwest and the moat at the north gate was expanded to double width. To the south the old entrance was bricked up and replaced with a new, larger, stronger heavily guarded stone built gateway in the castle’s southwest corner .

It’s not know why Gamleborg was abandoned . Perhaps the castle became too big to defend? There is no indication that the site was abandoned as a result of enemy destruction.  Possibly the new, smaller castle of Lilleborg  was cheaper to manage and easier to defend.


Photo : Peter Bromley (2008)


Photo :Charlotte Haas (2009)