Very little evidence of, Scandinavian settlement has been found in the eastern Baltic area, outside of the towns and trading places which grew up along the shores of the Baltic Sea in the pre-Viking and Viking periods. One such was Grobina in modern Latvia. Grobina seems to have been a centre of Scandinavian settlement on the Baltic Sea coast. It has a fort and at least three cemeteries containing grave goods of central Swedish and Gotlandic type. Recent investigations in the area have shown that one of the cemeteries contained no less than 3,000 burial mounds. The collection of objects recovered is very rich and some of the finds are unique in the Viking world.
In general, the different cemeteries at Grobina have been most thoroughly investigated, but other monuments are also known, for example hoards, pagan cult sites, settlements and fortifications. Six more or less definite hoards are known to have been found on or near the banks of the Alande river. The hoards of the 9th -12th century contained Cufic and Anglo-Saxon coins, silver ingots, silver and bronze ornaments (brooches, neckrings, bracelets) some of which where gilded.
A picture stone of 6th or 7th century date, for instance, clearly from Gotland or inspired by Gotlandic travellers, was found in one of the mounds and is the first object of this type to have been discovered on the eastern shores of the Baltic. A close connection with pre-Viking and Viking Gotlandic culture should not surprise us given that Grobina is only about thesatRe distance from Gotland as is Birka.
Grobina might be identified with the town of Seeburg, mentioned by the contemporary biographer, Rimbert, when describing its capture by the Svear in the mid-9th century.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.