SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • Norway;
  • medieval harbours;
  • Veøy;
  • jetty;
  • ship-blockage;
  • Old Norse sagas

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The harbours on Veøy
  4. Veøy revisited
  5. A new discovery
  6. On ship-blockages and harbour defences
  7. Who constructed harbour defences on Veøy?
  8. To conclude
  9. Acknowledgement
  10. References

In the Middle Ages walls and ditches were used for defensive purposes on land; city walls and moats surrounding castles are part and parcel of the public image of the Middle Ages. Less well known are the defence systems constructed under the sea to protect harbours and waterways. In Scandinavia such systems, ship-blockages, are especially well investigated in Denmark. In Norway medieval harbour-defence systems and ship-blockages are less known. This paper presents and discusses medieval harbours and defence systems in Norway, in particular the newly discovered jetty and possible ship-blockage on Veøy in Romsdal, western Norway.

The island of Veøy is situated on the western coast of Norway, just north of 62o N latitude. Veøy has a geographically central position in the region of Romsdal (Fig. 1). Central to Romsdal is the extensive fjord system; the fjords constituted the main traffic arteries of the region up to at least the end of the 1950s. Veøy lies at a seafaring crossroad near the outlets of various fjords.

figure

Figure 1. Romsdal is both the name of the region as a whole and a particular name for the south-east bound valley running from Åndalsnes. (Author)

Download figure to PowerPoint

Veøy is an insignificant island in terms of its size, only 1.1km2 (Fig. 2). In the Middle Ages there was a small town (a kaupstaðir) dated to c.1000–1400 on the island. This is known both from written and archaeological sources. In 1989–1992 various parts of the island were investigated archaeologically by the present author as part of a doctoral project resulting in the dissertation: Narratives of Veøy. An investigation into the poetics and scientifics of archaeology (Solli, 1996a).

figure

Figure 2. The island of Veøy. Nordvågen is the eastern bay. The northern low-lying part of the island, Nordøya, is protected area according to the Nature Conservation Act. (Author)

Download figure to PowerPoint

Various causes explaining the origins of a small town on Veøy have been put forward: (1) Veøy is centrally situated in the fjord system, and there are good natural harbours and landing-places on the island (Schnitler, 1768: 44; Schøning, 1778: 133; Kraft, 1832: 187; Fylling, 1875: 20; Bendixen, 1877, 1878: 134; Olafsen, 1926: 336; Herteig, 1954: 74; Vik, 1959; Bergsvik, 2004); (2) The name Veøy means the ‘holy island’ and the Old Norse prefix Ve- (‘holy’) indicates that the island had cultic significance and was a place for pagan rituals in pre-Christian times (Solli, 2008a: 121); (3) Due to the discovery of two 10th-century Christian church-yards in 1992, the present author has maintained that the Christianization process in Norway must have been pivotal to the origin of a small town on Veøy (Solli, 1996a).

The small town was situated between the bay of Sørvågen (‘The Southern bay’ which strangely enough lies on the western side of the island) and Nordvågen (‘The Northern bay’ on the east side of the island). A distinct spatial distribution of black soil (c.40,000 m2) marks the outline of the town (Fig. 3). The black soil started to accumulate as early as the mid 10th century AD, but it is obvious from the archaeological material that the town's heyday was in the 12th to mid 14th centuries. The existing Norman-style stone church was built in two phases in the period 1140–1200 (Stige, 2008: 79). After the Black Death in 1350, the accumulation of cultural layers ends. In 1384 a Royal Decree was issued by King Óláfr Hákonarson demanding, among other things, that the people of Romsdal should trade in the small town at Veøy (NGL III, 121) (Keyser et al. 1846–1895). The decree also mentions the small towns (smaar kaupstaðir) Borgund and Vågan. These old kaupstaðir were obviously in decline.

figure

Figure 3. Distribution of the black soil marks the outline of the small medieval town on Veøy. (Author)

Download figure to PowerPoint

The small town on Veøy disappeared in the Late Middle Ages (1350–1537) but ecclesiastical activities continued and the priests and their household remained on the island. In 1898 the last priest moved to the mainland, and in 1907 new churches were built on the mainland. No-one lives on the island today, but Veøy has a very special place in the hearts of people in Romsdal. The medieval church and the 18th-century parsonage are well kept, and every Whitsunday there is large attendance of the annual service in the Veøy church. This annual ‘pilgrimage’ to Veøy is not only a Christian celebration but a celebration of the island itself; Veøy's historical landscape and unique narratives of a remote past (Solli, 1996a: 71–82; Solli, 1996b). The Norwegian Government, on 6 May 1970, granted Nordøya (the northern part of the island) special protection under the Nature Conservation Act.

The harbours on Veøy

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The harbours on Veøy
  4. Veøy revisited
  5. A new discovery
  6. On ship-blockages and harbour defences
  7. Who constructed harbour defences on Veøy?
  8. To conclude
  9. Acknowledgement
  10. References

The harbour facilities on Veøy for smaller vessels are good; depending on the direction of the wind one can chose between two sheltered bays: Sørvågen and Nordvågen (Figs 4, 5), while Bondevika (‘the Peasant bay’) can offer protection from easterly winds. Winds from southwest, west and northwest dominate the weather pattern. Nordvågen and Sørvågen have, both in the research literature and local tradition, been considered good ‘natural harbours’, with no need for jetties, piers or quays.

figure

Figure 4. Nordvågen. (Author)

Download figure to PowerPoint

figure

Figure 5. Sørvågen. (Author)

Download figure to PowerPoint

In the Norse Early and High Middle Ages (c.1000–1350) the sea-level was higher on Veøy, a fact that had significant impact on harbour facilities. The marine/lacustrine boundary in Romsdal, that is the uppermost shore-line shortly after the retreat of the ice, varies between 20–100 m (Svendsen and Mangerud, 1987). Based on the shore-line diagrams presented, and an estimation method outlined by Svendsen and Mangerud, the marine/lacustrine boundary on Veøy can be estimated to be 70 m above present sea-level 10,300 BP (Solli, 1996a: 51). Svendsen and Mangerud operate with relative diagrams and uncalibrated radiocarbon-dates. It is interesting to note that the sea-level history of Veøy shows that in the Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age (3300 BP) the shore-line was 10 m above the present level and Veøy consisted of three islands. According to Svendsen and Mangerud's model of sea-level curves, the sea must have been c.2.55 m above the present sea-level 1000 BP. This estimation was confirmed when a boathouse in Bondevika situated c.2.70 m above the present high-tide limit was dated to having been constructed around AD 1000 (Solli, 1999: 37). A sea-level in the Middle Ages of about 1.5–2 m above the present level, made the harbour facilities in Nordvågen even more favourable than they are today. Today's high-tide in Nordvågen would have equalled approximately low-tide in the Middle Ages.

Asbjørn Herteig (1954: 74) has suggested that in spite of the dominating weather pattern with winds from the west, Sørvågen was the preferred harbour in the Middle Ages. He argues that the relatively flat rocks on the Katnes (Kati means ‘small boat’ in Old Norse, the name is equivalent to Caithness in Scotland) functioned as an excellent natural quay for loading and unloading ships. I agree that under pleasant weather conditions this is right. However, when the sea-level was 1–2 m higher it would be risky to moor a large ship overnight in Sørvågen (cf. Fig. 5). Weather changes fast in the fjords, even in summer wind and waves can be quite harsh, and I would not sleep well on a cargo vessel of longship type anchored in Sørvågen. This bay may have been the harbour for smaller boats. Local tradition suggests Nordvågen as the safest harbour on Veøy. With the present sea-level the inner part of Nordvågen is rather shallow, but with a higher sea-level it was a very good natural harbour. Although eastern winds may be rough, Nordvågen is somewhat sheltered by the Sølsnes-skerries to the east.

In 1995 the island's ranger, Karsten Flovikholm, discovered some mysterious, solid timber-remains visible at low-tide in Nordvågen. For more than 6o years he had roamed the landscape of Veøy without noticing these six or seven timbers. Puzzled by this discovery he contacted me, and we decided to do a survey in 1997. The cardinal questions were: Are these just natural tree remains? Would we find roots? Or is it possible that they are vestiges of an old quay construction, and, if so, how old?

No written sources from the Middle Ages, nor later sources, mention wooden quay constructions in Nordvågen. However, running across Nordvågen in approximately north-south direction there is a stone structure. Late 20th-century local tradition has interpreted this stone structure as a fence whose function was to inhibit grazing animals from entering the infields. I have always been sceptical of this narrative because the stone structure is of a very solid kind and, in any case, why would such a fence be built in the sea? Documentary sources from the mid 18th century mention this stone construction across the bay. Gerhard Schøning (1778) interpreted it as the remains of a mole or a bridge. I have also suggested that this is the vestige of some kind of quay construction (Solli, 1993). More on this stone structure later.

Veøy revisited

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The harbours on Veøy
  4. Veøy revisited
  5. A new discovery
  6. On ship-blockages and harbour defences
  7. Who constructed harbour defences on Veøy?
  8. To conclude
  9. Acknowledgement
  10. References

In cooperation with the regional museum, Romsdalsmuseet, I had the great pleasure of again excavating on Veøy in 2006 (Solli, 2008b), this time doing maritime archaeology at ebb-tide in Nordvågen. Resurveying the area we discovered eight solid timbers, and while excavating another two were found (Fig. 6). There were no roots and the timbers turned out to be posts of quite impressive dimensions (Figs 7, 8). Posts no. 4 and 5 were connected to two other posts found during excavation and so formed two pairs. It is likely, due to the spatial pattern, that posts no. 4–4b, 5–5b, 6 and 7 formed a jetty (Fig. 9). The other posts (nos 1, 2, 3, 8) may have formed a kind of platform adjoining the steep rocks to the north.

figure

Figure 6. The distribution of quay- and jetty-posts in Nordvågen. (Author)

Download figure to PowerPoint

figure

Figure 7. a) Post 4b; b) Post 6. (Author)

Download figure to PowerPoint

figure

Figure 8. Profile drawing of posts 1, 5, 6 and 7. (Author)

Download figure to PowerPoint

figure

Figure 9. The jetty in Nordvågen. (Author)

Download figure to PowerPoint

The Norwegian word for ‘quay’, brygge, has an Indo-European origin. It is etymologically related to the English word ‘bridge’. The original meaning could have been ‘platform’ (Bjorvand and Lindeman, 2000: 110). In the Middle Ages brygge could have two meanings: either a kai, that is ‘jetty/pier’, or landgangsbro, ‘landing bridge’ (Elgvin, 1980: 274).

When the sea-level was 1.5–2 m higher the jetty and quay in Nordvågen constituted excellent landing-places not only for small vessels, but also for larger cargo-ships such as knarr- or busse-type ships. The crucial question was: Could the jetty and quay be dated to the Middle Ages? No artefacts were recovered in association with the posts. However, the posts constituted excellent material for radiocarbon dating. The posts were all of pine, and protected by the blue-grey shore clay, pine-bark was preserved on several of them. We also had access to the outer annual growth-rings of the wood. The results of the radiocarbon dating are given in Table 1 and Figure 10.

figure

Figure 10. Diagram of calibrated radiocarbon-dates

Download figure to PowerPoint

Table 1. The OxCal table for radiocarbon-dates of quay- and jetty-posts in Nordvågen, Veøy
Sample No1 sigma2 sigmaObject
T-186291250139012101400Post 4
T-186301280140012601430Post 4b
T-186311300142012801430Post 5
T-186321175128010401300Post 6
T-186331215128011501300Post 7
T-186341170129010401390Post 1
T-186351260138012201390Log between P4 and P5b

The radiocarbon-dates point in a clear direction: these quay constructions can be dated to the 13th and 14th century when the small town on Veøy had its heyday. The material also seemed perfect for dendro-chronological analysis. Post 4b was analysed by Andreas Kirchhefer at the University of Tromsø. Unfortunately the dendro-series associated with Romsdal did not produce a definite hit inside the radiocarbon window (Solli, 2008b: 162).

The dating of the jetty and quay correlates with a period when cargo-ships were getting bigger (Christensen, 1985; Crumlin-Pedersen, 1985a; Crumlin-Pedersen, 1999; Bill, 2002) and trade along the coast of Norway was expanding. In other Norwegian medieval towns, quay constructions were getting more elaborate in this period. In the small town of Borgund, in Sunnmøre south of Romsdal, vestiges have been found of a system of jetties and warehouses (Herteig, 1975a: 28). During the early phase of the Bryggen-wharf in Bergen, the stability of the shore ground was improved by a layer of mostly fire-cracked stone; this layer drained and solidified the ground creating good landing-places. Later, in 13th-century Bergen, the Bryggen-wharf was fully developed with jetties, warehouses and a continuous quay-front (Herteig, 1975b: 61). Creating a continuous quay-front was declared an official policy by the King: The ‘Town-law’ (Byloven) of 1276 (ch. VI, 4) (Robberstad, 1923) issued by King Magnús Lagabætir (‘law–mender’) puts forward rules to regulate the height of the jetties so as to create a continuous quay-front.

In Oslo, jetties and warehouses are also known, but not to the same extent as in Bergen because no traces have been found of a continuous quay-front. Both in medieval Oslo and Bergen jetties were founded on square log-timbered caissons filled with stones (bolverkskar/laftekasser) (Herteig, 1981, 1985; Molaug, 2002, 2012). In Oslo there is also evidence of large log-timbered caissons or mooring-berths (fortøyningskiste) at some distance from the shore-line. One of these caissons measured 16 x 30 m and formed an artificial timber island from which cargo could be loaded and unloaded and large ships moored (Molaug, 2002: 28). Constructions like this are also known from Swedish medieval harbours, such as in Kalmar (Åkerlund, 1951: 25). Sørvågen and Nordvågen on Veøy have been surveyed by scuba divers searching for artificial-looking piles of stones, but no traces of anything resembling remains of log-timbered caissons have been discovered (Solli, 2008b: 165).

In medieval Nidaros (Trondheim) the most sheltered harbour was in the mouth of the river Nidelven. During the 11th and 12th centuries it seems as if there was no central coordination regulating the building of quays in Trondheim, and as a result no continuous quay-front was developed (Christophersen, 1994a: 85). In the small towns of Vågan in Lofoten and Kaupanger in Sogn no elaborate quay constructions have been discovered yet (Wickler, 2004: 67; Knagenhjelm, 2004: 103). Outside the Norwegian towns, only two other harbour areas are well investigated. In Agdenes (the so-called King Eysteinn's harbour), at the mouth of the Trondheimsfjord, a large mole has been investigated (Sognnes, 1985; Jasinski, 1995), and in Avaldsnes on Karmøy, the site of an old king's manor, vestiges of harbour constructions in the shape of stone constructions have been discovered by marine archaeologists (Opedal, 2001: 75). Both Agdenes and Avaldsnes are mentioned as important harbour in several sagas (Solli, 2008b: 166).

Detlev Ellmers maintains that there are two kinds of harbours: the first where ships are stranded for loading and unloading; the second that have facilities to load and unload floating ships (Ellmers, 1972: 123). On Veøy it was possible to do both. Only important harbours had facilities of the latter kind in medieval Northern Europe: ‘Harbour structures are found only at the most important nodal points in the trade networks of the time’ (Bill and Roesdahl, 2007: 284).

From the 13th century onwards there is clear evidence of a post-built jetty and a platform quay construction in Nordvågen on Veøy. Throughout the 13th century the small town on Veøy grew to be an important administrative and economic nodal point under the consolidated kingship of Hákon IV Hákonarson (1217–1263) and his descendants, up until the Black Death in 1349–1350 (Solli, 1996a, 1999). The construction and improvement of jetties and quays in Norwegian high medieval towns correlates well with the building of larger cargo-ships (clinker-built, keeled vessels) and the increase in trade (Christensen, 1985: 208; Nedkvitne, 1985; Crumlin-Pedersen, 1991; Christophersen, 1994b: 284; Bill, 2002: 102; Hansen, 2005: 205).

A new discovery

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The harbours on Veøy
  4. Veøy revisited
  5. A new discovery
  6. On ship-blockages and harbour defences
  7. Who constructed harbour defences on Veøy?
  8. To conclude
  9. Acknowledgement
  10. References

Spending time excavating in an area often results in new discoveries. As mentioned above, sources from the mid 18th century describe a north-south stone construction across Nordvågen, interpreted as possibly the remains of a mole or a bridge (Fig. 11). The stone structure is clearly visible at low tide. A row of seaweed marks the structure at high tide. It is slightly curved and c.59 m long. This solid construction is constituted of stones sized c.0.2–1.2 m. The structure is up to 2.4 m wide in its present collapsed condition (Fig. 12). It is possible that the stone structure was longer, running all the way to the quite steep rocks at the northern side of the bay. There are quite large stones in the ground in front of the ‘modern’ boathouse. The structure would then have been c.78 m long. In the south the explicit traces of the stone structure ends about 17 m from the present high-water mark. Such a structure would have functioned as a breakwater during strong winds and heavy seas from the east.

figure

Figure 11. The stone structur11 in Nordvågen with the opening. (Author)

Download figure to PowerPoint

figure

Figure 12. Plan drawing of the north-south running stone structure in Nordvågen. (Author)

Download figure to PowerPoint

In 2006, I discovered that in the northern part of the stone structure there is a distinct opening, 4–5m wide, and a new interpretation of the structure began to develop (Fig. 13): what if the structure was not the vestige of a bridge or mole but of a kind of ship-blockage? Ship-blockages have various dimensions but one evident trait is that they must have an opening. Ship-blockages have been built to (cf. Åkerlund, 1951: 18; Crumlin-Pedersen, 1984: 62; Westerdahl, 1989: 130; Skoglund, 2005: 6): (1) Defend towns; (2) Defend natural harbours; (3) Protect settlements in the hinterland; (4) Protect levy-harbours; (5) Protect crossing points (drag) and defence systems on land; (6) Control sea-passages.

figure

Figure 13. Aerial view of the stone structure in Nordvågen with the plan of the stone structure superimposed. (Author)

Download figure to PowerPoint

During the 12th and early 13th centuries of civil struggles for power in Norway, there were good reasons for protecting the harbour of a small coastal town. In 1206 Veøy was attacked. The Bagler saga (Baglersagaen, 1979) tells that the warrior-band of rebels called the Baglar ransacked the town, stole food from another band called the Birkibeinar, and burnt their newly built levy-ships (Nilsen, 1976). The saga mentions explicitly that the levy-ships were moored in Nordvågen (‘j hinnum jnnra woginum’). These ships may have been moored inside the ship-blockage and were impossible to steal and therefore were obliterated by fire.

On ship-blockages and harbour defences

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The harbours on Veøy
  4. Veøy revisited
  5. A new discovery
  6. On ship-blockages and harbour defences
  7. Who constructed harbour defences on Veøy?
  8. To conclude
  9. Acknowledgement
  10. References

‘In the same way as walls and ditches have been used for centuries to regulate and protect land traffic, ship-blockages reflect the regulation or blocking of sea traffic to large or small areas of importance at the time.’ (Crumlin-Pedersen, 1985b: 223)

Attempts to block important harbours by various means are mentioned several times in different sagas: The saga of St Óláf (ch. 7) (Sturluson, 1911; Hollander, 1964; Holtsmark and Arup Seip, 1979) tells of a heroic incident c.1008 in Stokksund, (present day Stockholm). The mouth of Lake Mälern was blocked by an iron chain, but the astute King Óláfr and his men dug a trench, which was filled with water, sailed through, and when persecutors tried to follow him the trench collapsed.

About 40 years later Haraldr Harðráða (‘hard-ruler’, the king that fell in the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066), found himself in a similar predicament in the Bosphorus Strait when a chain blocked what the Norse called Sjáviðarsund. Harald moved his men on the ships and using the forces of gravity they made it over the chain and escaped into the Black Sea (The saga of Harald Sigurtharson, ch. 15) (Sturluson, 1911; Hollander, 1964; Holtsmark and Arup Seip, 1979).

In King Magnús the Blind and Haraldr Gilli's saga (ch. 7) (Sturluson, 1911; Hollander, 1964; Holtsmark and Arup Seip, 1979) we are told that in 1135 Vågen in Bergen was blocked by a chain for a week, and Magnús was not able to get his ships out (!) and his rival King Haraldr Gilli (‘Gilchrist’) could escape.

In the late 12th century King Sverrir was particularly eager to construct defence systems both on land and associated with the sea. Twice in the saga of King Sverrir, in 1187 and 1197, (ch. LXXI and ch. CVI) (Hauksson, 2007) we are told that the king let his men build a palisade-like defence by the sea and river in Nidaros.

Ship- and harbour-blockages are well known and archaeologically researched in Denmark, such as the famous blockage at Peberenden with the Skuldelevs ships, and Gedehaven (dated to the 15th century) (Crumlin-Pedersen, 1985b; Rieck, 1991; Nielsen, 1991; Nørgård Jørgensen, 1997). In Sweden the blockages at Stocksund (Stockholm) and Foteviken have been investigated (Ödman, 1987; Westerdahl, 1989; Skoglund, 2005: 10). In Denmark and Sweden ship-blockages are known both from the Iron Age and the Middle Ages. However, in Norway, with its numerous fjords, bays, and víks, not one ship-blockage has hitherto been known dated to the Viking or Middle Ages. During the past few years marine archaeologists have begun to actively search for blockages and a few have been found but they are either of later times or not dated.

On Veøy a ship-blockage in Nordvågen would have protected ships while moored, and during loading and unloading. The stone structure visible today may have functioned as the foundation of a palisade-like wall. A blockage would have sheltered the inner bay of Nordvågen from easterly winds. Furthermore, Veøy was most probably a levy-harbour (see point 4 above). In Bondevika there are remains of two large boathouses (naust) dated to the early 11th century (Solli, 1996a: 112). These boathouses were big enough to house levy-ships. A blockage in Nordvågen would have protected the small town and served as a clear manifestation of the town's special position in the region (cf. points 1, 2 and 3).

Who constructed harbour defences on Veøy?

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The harbours on Veøy
  4. Veøy revisited
  5. A new discovery
  6. On ship-blockages and harbour defences
  7. Who constructed harbour defences on Veøy?
  8. To conclude
  9. Acknowledgement
  10. References

There are indications that during the Civil wars in the period 1177–1184 between King Sverrir and King Magnús Erlingsson, Veøy was under the influence of Sverrir and his band the Birkibeinar. When coming to Norway from the Faroe Islands in 1176/77, a ‘little and low man from the outer skerries’ as he described himself, Sverrir claimed that he was the son of King Sigurdr Munnr (‘mouth’, 1133–1155) and thereby the half-brother of King Hákon Herðibreið (‘broad-shouldered’) who was killed in a battle close to Veøy in 1162. According to the saga of King Magnús Erlingsson (ch. 5–7) (Sturluson, 1911; Hollander, 1964; Holtsmark and Arup Seip, 1979) Hákon had expected a lot of help from the townsmen on Veøy, but was caught and killed by Magnús' band before he reached the town (in which he had spent some nights before the battle). Twenty-five years later King Sverrir resumed the legacy of King Hákon Herðibreið and his main opponent was the same, namely King Magnús Erlingsson and his father Erlingr Skakki (‘crooked–neck’). Sverrir defeated King Magnús in a final battle at Fimreite in Sogn in 1184.

Coin experts have indicated that so-called V-bracteates could have been minted on Veøy during the reign of King Sverrir (Skaare, 1978: 36). Recent distribution studies of such bracteates have weakened this theory (Gullbekk, 1999: 100), but there are two other two-sided coins from Sverrir's time which numismatists hold likely were minted on Veøy (Schive, 1865: 58). Minting on Veøy was probably only a short-term activity (Risvaag, 2006: 265). If coins were minted on Veøy during the reign of King Sverrir, this is an indication that he had firm interests on Veøy, and that the small town must have been under his influence. Contrary to the view of historians such as Knut Helle (1995) and Claus Krag (2005), I maintain that the central part of Romsdal, with its extensive fjord system, was within the sphere of influence of Sverrir and the Birkibeinar, not Magnús or those who after his death resumed his legacy, the Baglar.

The attack by the Baglar on Veøy in 1206, four years after the death of King Sverrir, indicates that Veøy still was within the sphere of influence of the Birkibeinar, the late King Sverrir's band. A qualified guess is that the harbour defence in Nordvågen was constructed under the auspices of King Sverrir around 1180, when the conflict with Magnús was at its peak.

To conclude

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The harbours on Veøy
  4. Veøy revisited
  5. A new discovery
  6. On ship-blockages and harbour defences
  7. Who constructed harbour defences on Veøy?
  8. To conclude
  9. Acknowledgement
  10. References

The small medieval Norwegian towns (kaupstaðir) such as Kaupanger, Borgund, Veøy and Vågan have seemed to be without defence systems. Two harbours not associated with towns, have been investigated at Avaldsnes, Karmøy, and Agdenes at the mouth of Trondheimsfjorden. At Avaldnes traces of quay constructions have been discovered under water. At the so-called King Eysteinn's harbour at Agdenes a large mole constructed with timber and stone has been known and investigated since the late 19th century, and on land, associated with the mole, an earthwork has been interpreted as a virki (‘bulwark’), which might have been built for defensive purposes. However, the overall picture has been that small towns and important harbours were without traceable defensive systems. Maybe we should take a better look! The stone structure across Nordvågen at Veøy could constitute the foundation for a ship-blockage, functioning as a harbour defence to which ships and boats could be barred.

Acknowledgement

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The harbours on Veøy
  4. Veøy revisited
  5. A new discovery
  6. On ship-blockages and harbour defences
  7. Who constructed harbour defences on Veøy?
  8. To conclude
  9. Acknowledgement
  10. References

This new narrative of Veøy is dedicated to the memory of my old Veøy-companion, ranger Karsten Flovikholm (1926–2006) who, to my deep sorrow, died in a bicycle accident just a few weeks after the excavations in 2006.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. The harbours on Veøy
  4. Veøy revisited
  5. A new discovery
  6. On ship-blockages and harbour defences
  7. Who constructed harbour defences on Veøy?
  8. To conclude
  9. Acknowledgement
  10. References
  • Åkerlund, H., 1951, Fartygsfynden i den forna hamnen i Kalmar. Uppsala.
  • Baglersagaen (vol. 1–4), 1979, in Norges kongesagaer. Oslo.
  • Bendixen, B. E., 1877, 1878, Fornlevninger i Nordmøre og Romsdal, Aarberetning DKNVS. Trondhjem.
  • Bergsvik, T., 2004, Ferdsel i yngre jernalder i Romsdal, in J. Sanden (ed.), Romsdalsmuseets årbok 2004, 931. Molde.
  • Bill, J., 2002, The cargo vessels, in L. Berggren , N. Hybel , and A. Landen (eds), Cogs, Cargoes, and Commerce. Maritime Bulk Trade in Northern Europe 1150–1400, 92112. Toronto.
  • Bill, J., and Roesdahl, E., 2007, Travel and transport, in J. Graham-Campell and M. Valor (eds), The Archaeology of Medieval Europe, 261288. Århus.
  • Bjorvand, H., and Lindeman, F. O., 2000, Våre Arveord. Etymologisk ordbok. Oslo.
  • Christensen, A. E., 1985, Boat finds from Bryggen. The Bryggen Papers, main series vol.1, 47278. Bergen–Oslo.
  • Christophersen, A., 1994a, Strete, havn og kirkegård, in A. Christophersen and S. W. Nordeide (eds). Kaupangen ved Nidelva, 69112. Riksantikvarens Skrifter nr. 7. Trondheim.
  • Christophersen, A., 1994b, Mot syntesen, in A. Christophersen and S. W. Nordeide (eds), Kaupangen ved Nidelva, 263292. Riksantikvarens Skrifter nr. 7. Trondheim.
  • Crumlin-Pedersen, O., 1984, Fotevik. De marinarkæologiske undersøgelser 1981 og 1982. Pugna forensis: Arkeologiska undersökninger kring Foteviken, Skåne 1981–1983, 768. Lund.
  • Crumlin-Pedersen, O., 1985a, Cargo ships of Northern Europe AD 800–1300, in A. Herteig (ed.), Conference on waterfront archaeology in North European towns No 2, 8393. Bergen.
  • Crumlin-Pedersen, O., 1985b, Ship finds and ship blockages AD 800–1200, in K. Kristiansen (ed.), Archaeological Formation Processes. The representativity of archaeological remains from Danish Prehistory, 215228. Copenhagen.
  • Crumlin-Pedersen, O., 1991, Ship types and sizes AD 800–1400, in O. Crumlin-Pedersen (ed.), Aspects of Maritime Scandinavia AD 200–1200, 6982. Roskilde.
  • Crumlin-Pedersen, O., 1999, Ships as indicators of trade in Northern Europe 600–1200, in J. Bill and B. L. Clausen (eds), Maritime topography and the medieval town. PNM, Studies in archaeology and history, vol. 4, 1120. Copenhagen.
  • Elgvin, J., 1980, Brygge, in Kulturhistorisk Leksikon for Nordisk Middelalder, 274276. Copenhagen.
  • Ellmers, D., 1972, Frümittelalterliche Handelsschiffahrt in Mittel- und Nordeuropa. Neumünster.
  • Fylling, P., 1875, Bidrag til Veø ældre Historie. Aalesund.
  • Gullbekk, S. H., 1999, Norges Mynthistorie, (review of K. Skaare, 1995, Norges mynthistorie. Mynter og utmynting i 1000 år). Collegium Medievale 12, 95108.
  • Hansen, G., 2005, Bergen c.800–c.1170. The Emergence of a Town. The Bryggen Papers, Main Series No. 6. Bergen.
  • Hauksson, þ. (trans.), 2007, Sverris saga/Sverres saga. Reykjavík.
  • Helle, K., 1995, Under kirke og kongemakt 1130–1350, vol. 3, Norges historie. Oslo.
  • Herteig, A., 1954, Omkring kaupangen på Veøy i Romsdal. Viking XVIII, 6988.
  • Herteig, A., 1975a, Borgund in Sunnmøre. Topography, history of construction, state of research, in A. Herteig , H-E. Lidén , and C. Blindheim (eds), Archaeological contributions to the early history of urban communities in Norway, 2348. Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø.
  • Herteig, A., 1975b, ‘Bryggen’, the medieval wharves of Bergen, in A. Herteig , H-E. Lidén , and C. Blindheim (eds), Archaeological contributions to the early history of urban communities in Norway, 4967. Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø.
  • Herteig, A., 1981, The medieval harbour of Bergen, in G. Milne and B. Hobley (eds), Waterfront Archaeology in Britain and Northern Europe, CBA Research Report no. 41, 8087. London.
  • Herteig, A., 1985, Details from the Bergen medieval waterfront, in A. Herteig (ed.), Conference on waterfront archaeology in North European towns No 2, 6978. Bergen.
  • Hollander, L. M. (trans), 1964, Heimskringla by Snorri Sturluson. Austin TX.
  • Holtsmark, A. and Arup Seip, D. (trans), 1979. Snorre kongesagaer. Oslo.
  • Jasinski, M. E., 1995, Kong Øysteins havn på Agdenes. Forskningsstatus og revurderte problemstillinger. Viking LVIII, 73104.
  • Knagenhjelm, C., 2004, Kaupanger. En analyse av kaupangens lokalisering og funksjon, Unpublished MA thesis. Bergen.
  • Keyser, R., Storm de G., Hertzberg E., and Munch P.A., 1846–1895, Norges Gamle Love indtil 1387. Christiania.
  • Kraft, J., 1832, Det Nordenfjeldske Norge. Topographisk-statistisk beskrefet. Christiania.
  • Krag, C., 2005, Sverre. Norges største middelalderkonge. Oslo.
  • Molaug, P. B., 2002, Oslo havn i middelalderen. Niku strategisk instituttprogram 1996–2001. Norske middelalderbyer. NIKU publikasjoner 122. Oslo.
  • Molaug, P. B., 2012, Oslo havn før 1624. Viking LXXV, 211236.
  • Nedkvitne, A., 1985, Ship types and ship sizes in Norwegian foreign trade 1100–1600, in A. Herteig (ed.), Conference on waterfront archaeology in North European towns No 2, 9498. Bergen.
  • Nielsen, H., 1991, Gedehaven at Skælsør—a forgotten site of the late Middle ages, in O. Crumlin-Pedersen (ed.), Aspects of Maritime Scandinavia AD 200–1200, 207212. Roskilde.
  • Nilsen, H., 1976, Norrøne historieskriveres syn på de eldste norske byenes oppkomst og tidlige utvikling, Unpublished MA thesis. Bergen.
  • Nørgård Jørgensen, A., 1997, Sea defence in Denmark AD 200–1300, in A. Nørgård Jørgensen and B. L. Clausen (eds), Military Aspects of Scandinavian Society in a European Perspective, AD 1–1300, 200209. The national Museum, Studies in Archaeology & History vol. 2. Copenhagen.
  • Olafsen, O., 1926, Veøy i fortid og nutid. En historisk-topografisk beskrivelse. Published by (Veøy) herredsstyret nedsat nevnd. Norheimsund.
  • Opedal, A., 2001, Konklusjon og potensial for videre forskning, in E. Elvestad and A. Opedal (eds), Maritim-arkeologiske forundersøkelser av middelalderhavna på Avaldsnes. Karmøy, 7585. Rapport fra Stavanger Sjøfartsmuseum og Arkeologisk Museum i Stavanger. AmS-rapport 18. Stavanger.
  • Rieck, F., 1991, Aspects of coastal defence in Denmark, in O. Crumlin-Pedersen (ed.), Aspects of Maritime Scandinavia AD 200–1200, 8396. Roskilde.
  • Risvaag, J. A., 2006, Mynt og by, Myntens rolle i Trondheim by i perioden ca. 1000–1630, belyst gjennom myntfunn og utmynting. PhD dissertation. Trondheim.
  • Robberstad, K. (trans.), 1923, Magnus Lagabøters bylov (1276). Christiania.
  • Schive, C.I., 1865, Norges Mynter i Middelalderen. Christiania.
  • Schnitler, H. P., 1768 (1974), Beskrivelse over Romsdals Fogderie 1768 og 1789. Innleiing av Bjørn Austigard. Molde.
  • Schøning, G., 1778 (1979), Reise som giennem en Deel af Norge i de aar 1773, 1774, 1775. Trondheim.
  • Skaare, K., 1978, Mynt i Norge. Oslo.
  • Skoglund, F., 2005, Seilsperringer i kystforsvaret; en ‘ny’ kulturminnekategori?, in E. Følstad and O. Skevik (eds), Funn og forskning i Trøndelag: Foredrag fra to arkeologiseminarer i 2003, 189214. Stiklestad Nasjonale Kultursenter. Verdal.
  • Sognnes, K., 1985, King Øystein's harbour at Agdenes, Norway, in A. Herteig (ed.), Conference on waterfront archaeology in North European towns No 2, 5965. Bergen.
  • Solli, B., 1993, Faredagen, in E. Høigård Hofseth (ed.), Fortellingen om Embla. Glimt av formødrenes historie fra fangststeinalder til senmiddelalder, 125134. Oslo.
  • Solli, B., 1996a, Narratives of Veøy. An investigation into the poetics and scientifics of archaeology. Universitetets Oldsaksamling Skrifter, Ny rekke nr. 19. Oslo.
  • Solli, B., 1996b, Narratives of Veøy. On the poetics and scientifics of archaeology, in P. Graves-Brown , S. Jones , and C. Gamble (eds), Cultural Identity and Archaeology. The Construction of European Communities, 209227. London.
  • Solli, B., 1999, Veøyas arkeologi, in J. Sanden (ed.), Veøyboka, 8100. Molde.
  • Solli, B., 2008a, Kjøpstedet på Veøya i Romsdal, in H. Andersson , G. Hansen , and I. Øye (eds), De første 200 årene—nytt blikk på 27 skandinaviske middelalderbyer. UBAS—Universitetet i Bergen Arkeologiske Skrifter, vol. 5, 109124. Bergen.
  • Solli, B., 2008b, Havn og seilsperring på Veøya i middelalderen. Viking LXXI, 15317812.
  • Stige, M., 2008, Veøykirken—Middelalderens bygningshistorie, in J. Sanden (ed.), Romsdalsmuseets årbok, 7599. Molde.
  • Sturluson S., 1911 (1966), Heimskringla, Nóregs Konunga Sọgur. Oslo.
  • Svendsen, J. I., and Mangerud, J., 1987, Late Weichselian and Holocene sea-level history for a cross-section of western Norway. Journal of Quaternary Science 2, 113132.
  • Vik, P., 1959, Veøy kyrkje og kongsgard, in A. Skeidsvoll (ed.), Bygdebok for Tresfjord. Boktrykk, 294312. Bergen.
  • Westerdahl, C., 1989, Norrlandsleden 1. Länsmuseet—Murberget. Härnösand.
  • Wickler, S., 2004, A maritime view of the past in North Norway, in S. Wickler (ed.), Archaeology in North Norway, 6071. Tromsø University Museum. Tromsø.
  • Ödman, A., 1987, Stockholms tre borgar: Från Vikingatida spärrfäste till medeltida kastellborg. Stockholm.