The Roman Villa Borg is a reconstructed Roman villa rustica. Discovered at the end of the 19th century, the site was excavated in the late 1980s. Reconstruction work, which began in the mid-1990s, was virtually completed in late 2008 although further excavation work is still continuing. The site is a popular tourist attraction with some 50,000 visitors per year.
It was Johann Schneider, a local schoolteacher, who around the year 1900 first came across the site after noticing unnatural mounds in the area. He soon discovered the remains of walls as well as Roman pottery. Partly as a result of the World Wars, little was done until the mid-1980s when the Saarland authorities fenced the site off after illegal excavations started to threaten its survival. Systematic excavation work began in 1987. The excavations soon revealed evidence of pre-Roman inhabitation directly below the foundations of the Roman villa. Not only were there traces of Iron Age structures but also of Beaker culture settlements. Tools dating from the Neolithic period were also found on the site.
The site is that of a villa rustica or agricultural facility consisting of a large palatial residence or pars urbana and a pars rustica or economic area. There had been very little activity on the site since Roman times with the result that the Roman remains are still in very good condition.
Reconstruction work was designed to present an authentic representation of the buildings as they originally stood so that visitors could better appreciate archaeology and antiquity. In addition to the findings of excavation work, similar sites (such as Echternach in Luxembourg) were taken into account as was pertinent ancient (e.g. Vitruvius) and modern literature. The reconstructed buildings now stand on the Roman foundation walls, revealing their probable appearance in the 2nd to 3rd century.
The current buildings comprise the baths which are fully functional consisting of a frigidarium (cold bath), caldarium (hot bath) and tepidarium (tempered bath) together with latrines, a dressing room and a relaxation area. There is also the manor or main building with a large reception hall and a number of adjacent rooms in which the most important finds from the site are displayed.
The gardens, which have been designed as authentically as possible on the basis of pollen analysis and relevant literature, consist of a herb garden with spices and remedial plants as well as a kitchen garden with fruits and vegetables. The rose garden and the inner court garden are also based on Roman models and give an idea of Roman garden architecture with their fountains and footpaths.References:
Varberg Fortress was built in 1287-1300 by count Jacob Nielsen as protection against his Danish king, who had declared him an outlaw after the murder of King Eric V of Denmark. Jacob had close connections with king Eric II of Norway and as a result got substantial Norwegian assistance with the construction. The fortress, as well as half the county, became Norwegian in 1305.
King Eric's grand daughter, Ingeborg Håkansdotter, inherited the area from her father, King Haakon V of Norway. She and her husband, Eric, Duke of Södermanland, established a semi-independent state out of their Norwegian, Swedish and Danish counties until the death of Erik. They spent considerable time at the fortress. Their son, King Magnus IV of Sweden (Magnus VII of Norway), spent much time at the fortress as well.
The fortress was augmented during the late 16th and early 17th century on order by King Christian IV of Denmark. However, after the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645 the fortress became Swedish. It was used as a military installation until 1830 and as a prison from the end of the 17th Century until 1931.
It is currently used as a museum and bed and breakfast as well as private accommodation. The moat of the fortress is said to be inhabited by a small lake monster. In August 2006, a couple of witnesses claimed to have seen the monster emerge from the dark water and devour a duck. The creature is described as brown, hairless and with a 40 cm long tail.