This Viking City Must Have Existed, But Can’t Be Found
Despite all the developments in science and technology, there are still quite a few unsolved puzzles. For example, entire cities, fortresses and countries are still untraceable all over the world, although we are fairly certain that they existed thanks to historical sources.
- Name: Jomsborg
- What is this: house of the Jomsvikings
- Period of time: circa 950-1043 AD
A fortress city full of rigorously trained mercenaries who crush your enemies for a heavy reward. The stuff of legends – or maybe not.
Around 950, the Danish king Harald Blauwtand had the fortress of Jomsborg built, according to the sagas, the epic tales of Northern Europe. It’s the home of the Jomsvikings, ruthless super-mercenaries who adhere rather strictly to the Norse gods themselves, but fight with anyone who can cough up their hefty fees. Even if he’s an ungodly Christian. According to the Heimskringla sagas, Jomsborg was destroyed in 1043 by King Magnus the Good because the inhabitants had too much power.
It puts us somewhere between legend and reality – and they’re hard to separate. But because Jomsborg and its people are mentioned so often and even have their own saga, experts assume the stories contain at least some truth. The tentative location is the Baltic Sea island of Wolin in northwestern Poland. It was already an important commercial center in the 10th century and is even visited by merchants from the Middle East.
The necessary Viking traces have been found on Wolin, but no fort or fortified place. However, in 2019 a modern Polish translation of a treatise by German medieval historian Adam van Bremen will see the light of day. He mentions a location miles further northeast. And according to some archaeologists today, not only does this match the description of the sagas, but objects from the Jomsborg period have also been found. But the theory remains controversial.
This translated text also has an unexpected connection to Hollywood. In 1840, the clergyman Heinrich Boldt discovered a Viking treasure under the village church of Wiejkowo on Wolin: a collection of coins, writings and other “scrap”, as his contemporaries called it. And now let Boldt be the great-great-grandfather of actors Ben and Casey Affleck. We are looking forward to the shoot.
It’s one of six missing towns you heard about in our KIJK 6/7 double-thick summer issue. This edition will be in stores from June 1st. Put it in your diary already.
Text: Margot Reesink
Image: Svolder, Otto Sinding
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