Was Jomsborg Real? New Findings May Support Existence of 10th Century Viking Castle

An archaeological find on the Polish island of Wolin has reignited the long-standing debate surrounding the existence and whereabouts of the fabled 10th century Viking castle of Jomsborg.

Wolin
The island of Wolin is located in the Baltic Sea, off the coast of northwestern Poland. It’s 205 kilometers (127 mi) northeast of Berlin and about 33 kilometers (20 mi) from the German border.

Dr. Wojciech Filipowiak, an archaeologist from the Institute of Archeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Polskiej Akademii Nauk), has uncovered compelling evidence that could potentially unravel a mystery that has perplexed historians and Viking scholars for over five centuries.

The unexpected breakthrough occurred during the construction of an observation tower in a public park on the picturesque island of Wolin, situated in the Baltic Sea. As workers dug deep into the earth, they unearthed remains of artifacts that appear to indicate the existence of a thriving city during the 10th century. These findings have sparked immense excitement within the archaeological community, as they offer tantalizing clues pointing to the potential existence of Jomsborg.

The artifacts discovered by Dr. Filipowiak and his team shed new light on the history of Viking life, a subject that has long remained shrouded in mystery and speculation. While the physical remnants of this ancient civilization have been buried over time, these recent findings offer a glimpse into the past that has captivated the imaginations of scholars and enthusiasts alike.

Dr. Filipowiak, who has dedicated his career to unraveling the secrets of the past, told the New York Times that this was a truly exciting discovery.1

Supported by the Wolin Archaeology Museum, Dr. Filipowiak’s painstaking research has already yielded astonishing results. The wooden remains the team found indicate the presence of a 10th-century stronghold at the site.

The significance of the potential discovery of Jomsborg cannot be overstated. If the evidence gathered by Dr. Filipowiak indeed points to the location of Jomsborg, it would revolutionize our understanding of Viking history and challenge the prevailing narratives surrounding this influential era. The implications extend beyond academia, as the discovery would undoubtedly attract widespread attention from historians, archaeologists, and enthusiasts worldwide, all eager to explore the hidden depths of Viking culture.

While the tantalizing possibility of Jomsborg’s discovery stirs excitement, Dr. Filipowiak remains cautious and steadfast in his commitment to rigorous scientific investigation. He acknowledges the need for further research and thorough analysis to validate his initial findings fully. The academic community eagerly awaits the comprehensive results of his ongoing study, which will shed light on the true nature and significance of this monumental discovery.

Where is Jomsborg?

Jomsborg, according to historical accounts and sagas, is said to have been a strategically important stronghold and trading hub during the 10th and 11th centuries. However, the precise location and existence of Jomsborg remain subjects of debate and speculation among researchers.

The legends and sagas surrounding Jomsborg speak of a legendary warrior named Palnatoke, who is believed to have founded the stronghold. He was reputed to be the leader of the Jomsvikings, an elite and secretive group of mercenaries and seafarers. The Jomsvikings were said to live by a unique code of conduct known as the Jomsborg Law, which emphasized bravery, loyalty, and strict adherence to honor.

While the physical remains of Jomsborg have not been definitively identified, archaeological investigations on the island of Wolin, in present-day Poland, have revealed traces of a significant Viking presence. Excavations have uncovered remnants of large timber structures, defensive ramparts, and a wealth of artifacts, including weapons, jewelry, and everyday objects. These findings provide valuable insights into the material culture and social dynamics of the people who may have inhabited a fortified settlement in the vicinity.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Jomsborg is its association with the renowned Viking warrior, Harald Blåtand (Blue Tooth), who is credited with strengthening the stronghold during his reign. Harald Blåtand, known for unifying various Viking tribes under the Danish crown, is believed to have utilized Jomsborg as a strategic base for his military expeditions in the region. The stronghold likely played a pivotal role in projecting Danish power and controlling trade routes along the Baltic Sea.

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The Jomsvikings, if they indeed existed, would have been renowned for their exceptional seafaring skills and military prowess. Tales of their daring exploits and fearless battles have been immortalized in sagas such as the “Jómsvíkinga saga” and the “Knytlinga saga.” These sagas describe epic encounters with rival Viking armies, including battles against the Norwegian king, Olaf Tryggvason.2

Jomsborg, Jomsvikings at the Battle of Hjörungavágr
Jomsvikings at the Battle of Hjörungavágr

The significance of Jomsborg as a center of Viking activity is further supported by the discovery of archaeological artifacts associated with international trade. Excavations have unearthed items from distant lands, including Byzantine coins and Arabian silver. This suggests that Jomsborg, if it did exist, may have served as a vital hub for maritime trade.

The decline of Jomsborg, if it indeed flourished, is believed to have occurred in the late 11th century, potentially due to a combination of factors. Some historical accounts suggest that the Danish king, Svend Estridsen, launched a successful assault on the stronghold, leading to its eventual demise. Additionally, the changing political landscape of the Baltic region and the rise of centralized states may have played a role in the decline of Jomsborg.

  1. A Centuries-Old Mystery – Did This Elusive Viking City Exist?“, The New York Times, Retrieved June 8, 2023[]
  2. “The Saga of the Jomsvikings (The Northern Medieval World)”, Þórdís Edda JÓHANNESDÓTTIR & Alison FINLAY (Translators), Medieval Institute Publications, ISBN: 978-1580443111[]