Steinvikholmen – is a stone/concrete castle build in a small island situated in Skatval peninsula near Stjørdal in Nord-Trøndelag, on the waters of Åsenfjorden. It was biult in XVI century by Norway's last Roman Catholic Archbishop - Olav Engelbrektsson, so saying that this is a 'Viking's castle' is totaly wrong.
To the island leads wooden bridge – as it had place before and then it was the only way there different than boat transport. Know, the bridge is open only in summer season (wooden boards from the bridge are taken out in winter time) but the waters near coast are shallow enough to get there with dry feet during low tide.
Fortress is open to public only in summer time. In August we can see and hear the opera show organized on the island together with other artistic shows like viking's fest and some music concerts. It is allowed to grill around the castle, walk freely on the island whole year, near the bridge we can find a big parking place and turist information open during high season.
The castle is situated really beautiful – it can give some ideas how beautiful it would be if Viking's in their Middle Ages were build stone castles like it was happening in whole Europe and British Islands.
Just imagine high mountains together with deep fiords – and a big castle on the shore, Views like from Scottish Highlands and other mountain areas of Europe. It would be sooo beautiful. But it is not – so, why there is no castles in Norway?
In fact, there is only few buildings which we can called Castles, here in whole Scandinavia – one of them is Steinvikholmen, the other famous one is Bohus Castle – built over 200 years earlier on norwegian borders as a defence against Swedish armies. Now, Bohus fortress lies inside swedish bordes. Some more remainings of Scandinavian defence structures can be found in Denmark.
So how it was with this castles? Why there is no any here in Scandinavia?
I was trying to find information about one or two biggest reasons of this, but in fact, there is much more than two. In early middle ages, viking's tribes were living in a very dark ages – lack of knowledge and technology was really big comparing to situation in other parts of Europe.
Scandianvian architecture was very simple – main building material was wood as the forests grows almost 100% of the land except the higest mountains and far north. If You watched Vikings TV series – really great by the way – You probably seen how the Long Houses looked like, how the fortification around villages and towns were build, and in what conditions they used to live. Stones and grounds were used to bouild cirlce fotifications around the central place of the village, sometimes around all the buildings, depending of the welth and strength. That times Norwegian grounds, norwegian Viking's were devided on many separate clans which runs the war between each other all the time. War for lands, for women, for glory and treasures. Viking's were one of the best warriors that times – well experienced in close combat, never fear death – as they will go to Valhalla when dying in combat conditions. Even if they had knowledge and technology – it would be imposible to build such constructions – the key to success was to be fast, to fortificate after combat, to defend against new threat. There was nothing like longer peace period to have time and construct great stone fortifications.
I am sure I will write more about Viking's mitology and believes many times in future posts. This is the subject which feeds my imagination really well!
We could call Viking's a primitive tribes – but it will not be true and fair. Maybe they didn't had technology to build stone castles and fortress but they builds the best wooden boats of Medieval Times – Drakkars. They were the first people who travel not only northern seas and conquer well defended towns of british islands but they were first people who traveled through ocean and "discover" new continent , which many years later was "re-discovered" by Columbus and called America. Yes, this is a fact – Viking's were first – sorry Christopher...
They navigate the stars, they build amazing boats, they conquer and pillage more powerful european countries – maybe they were more primitive, but they desserve a lot of respect. For me Viking's are one of the most interesting tribes in medieval Europe.
So from where this castles, fortress come from? The answer is simple. The technology and knowledge came here together with Christianity and missionaries. But this is the story for another post maybe :).
Hope You liked the story and the photos. All the text and images are made by author, some information taken from Wikipedia to be more precise in dates and facts :).