The Trelleborg near Slagelse is one of the five of six Viking ring castles in Denmark. Similar to the other Viking ring castles found so far, the Trelleborg at Slagelse was designed as an exact circle with two roads that crossed at right angles in the geometric center and led to the four gates with two always opposite to each other. In each of the four quarters stood four almost identical longhouses arranged in a square. Unlike the others, the fortress was extended with a sort of bailey. The whole fortress may have supplied room for some 1,300 people.
The circular main castle was surrounded by a 5-meter-high rampart that was 17.5 meters wide at the base and had a diameter of 137 meters. The outer walling was made of oak. Two rows of poles were supported by slanted beams from the outside and the room in between the poles was filled with loam and stones. The inside was also clad with wood, the two facades were reinforced by beams connecting the two. In the east there was a 5-meter-broad berm protected by a ditch with a pointed profile, 17 meters wide and 4 meters deep. The ditch was not filled with water and had a palisade at its base. The two roads were covered with wood, and the four gates lined with stones on the inside. As in Fyrkat, there may have been a circle path along the inner side of the ramparts.
The 16 longhouses were arranged in four squares 29.42 meters long each and had a somewhat ship-like form, the long walls bulging outwards. Each house was divided into three rooms with a large central hall (18 x 8 m) and two smaller rooms at the ends. Each house had four entrances, two at the short ends and two in the long walls. The doors where protected by porches. Besides the large longhouses there were also smaller houses to the north of the north eastern quarter, two small houses in the inner yard of the northeastern and southwestern quarter and a little square hut each near the northern and western gates.
The bailey of the fortress seems unique, as the other fortresses seem to lack this feature (so far only Aggersborg, Fyrkat and the Trelleborg near Slagelse have been fully excavated as of 2006). The bailey was protected by a rampart of its own to the east. The 15 longhouses of the bailey, each 26.33 meters long, were placed with their axis through the length of the buildings pointing to the center of the main castle.
In an extension of this bailey was a cemetery with 135 graves. Most buried were young men but some were also women or children. Two contained mass burials, one for five and one for eleven persons. Over two-thirds of the graves had no grave offerings, the others only had few pieces, weapons being rather rare. Only two graves were rich in items. One was a woman's grave with pearls, a bronze bucket, a wood casket and game stones. The other was the grave of a male with a bronze bowl and a silver adorned axe. The large amount of simple graves may indicate a Christian influence. Graves of horsemen were found on surrounding higher grounds.
The site was excavated from 1934 to 1942. Most of the finds were things of every day life: pottery, locks, keys, fittings, knives, whetstones, combs, weaving weights, scissors and needles. Weapons such as iron axes, arrow points and parts of shields.
Older datings put the castle near the year 1000. Datings by Dendrochronology have found the wood used for the construction to have been felled in the fall of 980 and thus being used for building presumably in the spring of 981. The rather short construction time and the complete lack of any signs of maintenance indicate an only short use of the buildings. Possibly the fortress was abandoned before it was completed. Signs of fire may indicate its destruction by fire. The regions around the gates show signs of longer usage though.
One of the Longhouses was reconstructed on the site in 1948. Further investigations have led to other opinions on the construction though. Today the site is an open air museum with some buildings for exhibits.References:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.