Sandby borg is a ringfort, one of at least 15 on the island of Öland. It sits about 2 kilometers southeast of Södra Sandby village in Sandby parish. From 2010 the fort has been subject of excavation that has revealed that it was the site of a 5th Century AD massacre. The fort included 53 buildings, consisting of small, one-family houses in the middle and stables and storehouses closer to the walls.
Sandby Borg is only 42 meters from the shore line to a level spot about 2.5 meters above sea level on a low sand dike, low enough that at high tide the sea almost reaches the base of the fort's walls. The highest points of the wall are in the northeast at 3.1 meters above ground level, and in the southeast at 1.5 meters above ground level.
The fort is of oval shape. The length of the main axis is c.95 meters and the traverse is some 65 meters. The wall is about 4 meters thick, with the thickest part of the wall towards the northeast and the thinnest part towards the southeast.
Two entrances pierce the walls, one in the north and one in the southeast. The fort had its own well. West of the fort there is a structure that consists of several parallel rows of grey stone blocks.
Archaeologists from the museum of Kalmar County, Sweden, and Lund University started excavating the site in 2010, alerted by signs of exploratory digging by looters. There is a limited digging season and so far only a little of the fort and its dwellings have been excavated. Even so, there have been remarkable finds. Material finds consist of gilded silver and bronze buckles, and caches of beads and jewelry. What is more unusual is that ten skeletons have also been found, all in positions that suggest that the individuals involved were taken by surprise, killed, and left where they fell. Furthermore, it appears that the fort was not put to the torch but simply left with its dead strewn about, unburied.
The fact that there were children who were also killed leads Dr. Helena Victor of Kalmar Museum to speculate that these were indeed murders, rather than raiders. She does, however, also admit that they make assumptions sometimes based on evidence at the current dig site.
Archeologists have found a Roman gold solidus from the reign of Valentinian III (419-450 A.D.), that helps date the site. The archeologists excavating the site believe that the presence of the solidus is consistent with the fort's inhabitants being erstwhile mercenaries in the Roman army.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.