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Sliasthorp

Previous page: Sigtuna

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Archaeological excavations directed by Andres Dobat of Aarhus University in Denmark have uncovered what may be the Danish royal military site of Sliasthorp, which was first recorded in 804.

The site, which is located near near Fushing in northern Germany, would have controlled trade and access to Hedeby.  (see location map)

As yet, it is not certain that the site is Sliasthorp, but Mads Dengsø Jessen of the National Museum of Denmark said that it is "the best candidate we have for now."

Dating evidence for the site suggests that it begins around the same time as the nearby Danevirke which was constructed in the earlier 8th century.

Dobat commented that "It's clear from the relation of the site to the Danevirke structure that [the newfound town] was of great military importance as well."

He also suggested that The town may have accommodated workers who built the huge Danevirke fortification.

Dobart summed up the strategic location of the town in the following points:

  • "The long Dannevirke fortification was located only a few hundred metres to the south. So when there was a need for troop reinforcements at the border to the Carolingian Empire in Germany, they could easily step in from Sliasthorp.
  • The town’s numerous pit-houses could accommodate all of King Godfred’s warriors. This enabled the king to strike back in case Jutland was attacked by Charlemagne (c. 742-814), who ruled what we now know as Germany. He headed a superpower, which had just conquered and forcibly Christianised all of Northern Germany and which could potentially occupy Jutland too.
  • With its location by the Schlei bay, Viking ships could easily transport personnel, weapons and food to and from the town."

Around 30 buildings have so far been excavated, but aerial photography and geophysical survey suggest a total of c. 200 structures.  The most important structure found is a Viking longhouse measuring more than 30 metres long and 9 metres wide.

This communal building had been burnt and arrowheads were found embedded in its charred timber walls suggesting a violent attack.  There were even caltrops scattered outside the entrance to the building.

Lasse A. C. Sonne, a lecturer at the Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen, said:

“If Dobat has discovered at royal estate in that area it is of course interesting – not least if the town can be linked to Hedeby.

“From the Viking town of Birka, near Stockholm, Sweden, we know a similar model. There the great city lay isolated on one island, and on the neighbouring island was a royal estate from which the city could be governed.

“If Dobat’s interpretation of the finds is correct, they – together with finds from Birka and others – paint a picture where chiefs were involved, and where large Viking cities didn’t just emerge out of the blue.”

 


 

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