Did the Viking Build Stone Castle in Viking Age?

Posted by Ms Elly on

Did the Vikings Build Stone Castles in Viking Age?

Castle was among the most iconic structure during the Middle Ages that was not only majestic but defensive as well. It was also a way to present one's power, wealth, and aestheticism. So the question here was that: Did the Vikings build any stone castles during their glorious time? 

Short answer: No

Long answer:

The Vikings didn't build stone castles for themselves back then. To understand this, we should dwell into the meaning of stone castle in the Middle Age and the political system of the Vikings. 

Stone castle in the Middle Age

The stone castle in the Middle Age was a type of fortified structure where the noble, the royal, and some military elite would dwell in. Commonly, the stone castle was erected and owned by the local feudal lord. 

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh castle

Feudalism is a concept which makes a societal structure. It refers to the relationship between the lord and his followers as well as the lord's holding of land in exchange for labour and service. 

Meanwhile, the Vikings didn't follow feudalism

Back to the Pre-Christian time, the Vikings didn't follow feudalism in the sense that the King gave the freeman the land for military service or labour.

Viking jarl in Vikings TV Series. In the Viking Age, the Vikings had no feudalism although they divided the social classes

Viking jarl (Cre: "Vikings" TV Series)

The Vikings had the class division but it was based on the personal possessions. In other words, what defined the class based on personal prestige, personal assets and the alliances with other great men they could ally. 

A jarl (a Viking leader) couldn't change the laws. He had no power to control it. The Althing or the Thing was the law-creating and law-enforcing authority of the society. Every man held a vote at the Thing and the jarl could hardly intervene into this. The elderly or a man with great wisdom would become the lawspeaker retelling the Viking laws to judge the criminal. 

Viking thing was the first sign of Viking civilization. There, the criminals would be judged according to the laws to decide whether he should have to pay a fine or to go exile or a death sentence

Viking Thing in the Viking Age was an ancient form of court

Because of this, there was no stone castle in the Viking Age. As the stone castle came from the different social structure, the Vikings held dear another one, they had no castle stones. 

Rather, the Vikings built the trellborgs which were the ring-shaped forts. Five out of seven trelleborgs excavated have been believed to be built under the reign of King Harald Bluetooth the first Viking King of Denmark converting the Danes into Christians. According to archaeologists and historians. The Viking trelleborg was nearly perfect and none ring-shaped forts in the cosmos could rival the Viking trelleborg in terms of precise geometrical design. Although the Vikings learnt this type of fort from another tribe, they became the fort-building masters. 

Viking trelleborg was a type of Viking fort in a ring-shaped form

Viking trelleborgs according to the archaeologists nearly reached perfection for the precise geometrical design of it.

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