LOST IN TIME
1. Series: What Viking wouldn´t tell you
...they lived in fortified fortress....
...they died violently during a well organized raid.....
...they were trying to escape.....
...things remain untouched....
This is how we can summarize the informations, that we know about the people who lived in Sandby borg, which is often called the Swedish Pompeii, because everything, even the people, remained untouched. As if whole situation that occurred here in 5th century AD remained LOST IN TIME for their offspring.
Sandby Borg was ring fort located on the island of Őland off the south east coast of Sweden. In special circumstances, were murdered there dozens of people. The remains, which were found in Sandby borg are unique, because at that time in Scandinavia was customary to burn the dead. Even after the raid, weren´t these people burned. Why? Were other people afraid of revenge, enemy, curse or some kind of disease?
From aerial and satelite imagery are still visible remains of the fortress and defense wall, of which it is understandable that people were afraid of something. As stated Svante Fischer people were living in this fort „because they feared something bad what would happen to them. It did and the ring-fort failed to protect them against that terrible danger.“
Next is interesting also localization of the fort. Although were ring forts typical, settlements were agricultural and thus were mostly built to dominate the prosperous farming lands and not near the sea. According to the direction of the defense wall, we can imagine that the settlers expected threat from the mainland and fort was near the sea due to leakage in case of emergency. Of course the enemy could come from the sea and surprised settlers. But if it was a shootout for the purpose of plundering why researches have found beads, pendants, gold-plated bronze brooches, rings jewelery boxes, pearls, etc.? Why would the enemy kept precious object just lie on the ground? Of course, the possibility is that the most subjects were taken...
Researchers believe that this is the reason why was on this place found only one coin. As said for thelocal.se Helena Victor, archaelogist and project manager „we found it on the edge of a posthole in the house. So maybe the robbers came to take the treasure there, and maybe they ripped the bag and one coin fell down into the posthole in the floor, and there it remained.“ Anyhow, the identity of the attackers remains unknown.
Another mystery in this strange case is that the settlers were by invaders surprised. If was fortress built so precisely, obviously people know from whom and when some attacks can be expected. But death surprised them. As said for thelocal.se Helene Wilhelmson they were probably „ambushed in some way and people were running into the house trying to kill them (...) and they didn´t have a chance.“
Overall, who could be the enemy? There are different theories, which are trying to explain it. Suspects may be other inhabitants of the island. Perhaps the simplest version is some kind of terrible disease, which conquerors decided to stop and therefore killed everyone – men, women and children. However, if indeed it was a disease, the bodies will be burned.
Next, it could be the power struggle between the sons of the chief. This theory would explain why the bodies were left without moving – for other people it was warning to the future. However, if the reasons were gender spites, why was this fortress built by the sea and not as a dominant of country than in other cases? To find out the clue to this 1500 years old mystery, are needable more informations.
So, we decided to look at the whole situation from a different perspective and bring you a whole new theory.
As we already know, for people in northern countries, in that time Vikings, was custom to burn the dead. This information brought us also Ahmad Ibn Fadlan. This Arab traveler who lived in 10th century were writing about his ways. According to his ways Michael Crichton wrote book Eater of the Dead: The Manuscript of Ibn Fadlan Relating his Experiences with the Northmen and according on it a film as we know as The 13th Warrior, where was settlement attacked by monsters of the mist – wendols. As wrote Crichton „The Ibn Fadlan Manuscript represents the earliest known eyewitness account of Viking life and society. It is and extraordinary document, describing in vivid detail events, which occurred more than a thousand years ago.“ As next Crichton stated Ibn Fadlan was writing and telling stories about true situations. For example one of these truly situations we can see in the dialogue with the Northmen, who, as we can find in Manuscript, said do Ibn Fadlan: „You Arabs (...) must be a stupid lot. You take your most beloved and revered man and cast him into the ground to be devoured by creeping things and worms. We (...) burn him in a twinkling, so that instantly, without a moment´s delay, he enters into Paradise.“
So, if we can find here also information about burning their deads, we can also find there more truly information. Maybe also about weird enemy... The name of it was wendol, or windon what means the black mist. As noted in Manuscript „this means a mist that brings, under cover of night, black fiends who murder and kill and eat the flesh of human beings.“ Interesting is for us in this case another information, which said Northmen to Fadlan „In olden days, the black mist was feared by all the Northem of every region. Since my father and his father and his father before, no Northam has seen the black mist, and some of the young warriors counted us old fools to remember the ancient tales of their horror and depredations. Yet the chiefs of the Northem in all the kingdoms, even in Norway, have always been prepared for the return of the black mist. All of our towns and our fortresses are protected and defended from the land.“
When Ahmad Ibn Fadlan was a traveler in 10th century, could be those old days also time, when was people in Sandby borg killed? And was the fear from wendols reason to protect fortress from the land? Is the answer on terrible raid, remained jewelery and direction of defense wall attack and war with terrible creatures from old times coming out from the mist?
Archaeology. Masacre at Sweden´s Sandby Borg Discovered. ARCHAEOLOGY: 2013.[online]. [cited: 8. 12.2014]. Available: http://www.archaeology.org/news/1369-131007-sweden-sandby-borg-massacre
Daniel Miller. Archaeologists unearth Sweden´s own Pompeii: Hundreds died in ´brutal massacre´ at Island fort 1,500 years ago. DAILYMAIL: 2013.[online]. [cited: 8. 12.2014]. Available: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2445652/Archaeologists-unearth-Swedish-Pompeii-Hundreds-died-brutal-massacre-island-fort.html
Michael Crichton. Eaters of the Dead. ENGLISHSTUDENTSFORUM: N.D. [online]. [cited 8. 12.2014]. Available: http://englishstudentsforum.com/uploads/novels/Micheal%20Crichton/Michael%20Crichton-%20Eaters%20of%20the%20Dead.pdf
Solveig Rundquist, Oliver Gee. Gold coin may be key to solve Sweden´s ´Pompeii.´ THELOCAL: 2014.[online]. [cited: 8. 12.2014]. Available: http://www.thelocal.se/20140818/gold-coin-from-ancient-rome-found-in-sweden
Svante Fischer. Contact and conflict, networks and causality – the case of Sandby Borg. ACADEMIA: 2014.[online]. [cited: 8. 12.2014]. Available: http://www.academia.edu/7629128/Contact_and_conflict_networks_and_causality_the_case_of_Sandby_Borg