Fyrkat is one of four Viking-Age fortresses built in Denmark around 980 by King Harald Bluetooth. A fifth has now been found in Sweden.
They were all surrounded by a completely circular major rampart which is broken by gates placed at the four cardinal points of the compass. Two wooden streets, aligned north-south and east-west, divide the interior into four quarters, and each quarter contains a square formed by four buildings set around a courtyard. At 120m internally, Fyrkat is slightly smaller than Trelleborg.
A cemetery to the north of the fortress shows that Fyrkat was inhabited by women and children as well as men. It seems probable that the fortresses were built to maintain royal power.
The construction of the forts must have been a major undertaking: 10,000 cubic metres of earth and turf were needed for the rampart alone. The boat-shaped buildings were approximately 30m long. Although they all looked similar, only one building in each group of four was a dwelling. The other buildings appear to have been smithies, stores, stables, and workshops for gold and silversmiths.
Today the rampart is still impressive and the locations of the houses and roads are marked out in white. The cemetery is not visible.
Vikingecenter Fyrkat consists of;
The Historic Ringfort
The Viking Farmstead
There is a reconstruction of one of the large houses immediately outside the fortress. It is 28.5m long and built of oak. The walls are made from vertical planks and the roof is covered with shingles. Its weight is supported by sloping posts. Inside, the building is divided into three spaces, the largest room being the central one. It is decorated to look like a chieftan’s hall.
A Viking farm has been built about 1km from the site. Built of wattle and daub, it is based on the excavation of a house at Vorbasse, in Jutland. Other elements of the farm, including a smithy and a barn, have been added and there are now nine reconstructions on the site, including an interpretive centre. It is used periodically for re-enactments.
The finds from the excavation are on display in the museum in Hobro.