The hidden centre of power the Nordic Cookbook PDF the first Danish kings may well have popped up from the soil in Northern Germany. Archaeologists have surprisingly found some 200 houses and piles of weapons.
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The excavation work is mainly carried out by young archaeologists. Danish archaeologists believe they have found the remains of the fabled Viking town Silasthorp by the Schlei bay in northern Germany, near the Danish border. According to texts from the 8th century, the town served as the centre of power for the first Scandinavian kings. But historians have doubted whether Sliasthorp even existed. This doubt is now starting to falter, as archaeologists from Aarhus University are making one amazing discovery after the other in the German soil. Andres Dobat, a lecturer in prehistoric archaeology at Aarhus University. And the houses we have dug up so far were filled with finds: beads, jewellery, pieces of broken glass, axes, keys and arrowheads.
We’re still not fully aware of what significance this site has had. But our excavations have already given us a completely new perspective on many things, including the military organisation in the Viking Age and the nature of the first towns in Scandinavia. Sliasthorp played an important role in the Viking Age. The aggressive Viking king Godfred, the text says, decided to turn the town into a military power centre near the border of the early Danish kingdom.
At the start of the 9th century he arrived with his army to what was then a small settlement and turned it into a key strategic military location. 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.
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. The archaeological finds back up the written sources, showing that the king’s military power centre was later attacked. The house was more than 30 metres long and nine metres wide, and in the remains of the pillars that once stood by the wall and the entrance, we found arrowheads and caltrops. This suggests that the house was attacked in a military conflict and burned down. 150 years before King Gorm the Old.
Godfred is the first Danish king who we know for sure existed. The books detailed the power relations in and around the Carolingian Empire. Godfred was in all likelihood not the only king in the area we today call Denmark. But we do know that loyal chiefs secured his power in Jutland and perhaps also southern Norway. The attack took place long after King Godfred’s death.
But even if he had been alive, it’s still unlikely that he witnessed the attack. Back then, kings were always on the go and rarely spent long periods at Sliasthorp. As a consequence, the daily running of the town is likely to have been administered by the town chief, who lived in the lavish longhouse. King Godfred and his men only lodged in Sliasthorp when they had business in the area. The town’s population figures fluctuated several times within the same year, depending on whether there was a need for craftsmen and soldiers in the area. Only a select group of the absolute elite Vikings lived in Sliasthorp over extended periods. Based on the industrial design and the building style, Dobat reckons that a majority of the houses in the town were only used a few weeks a year.