A Viking Network Info-sheet:
Dansk / English
by students at Aalborg Teachers' College, Denmark
A large amount of the underground rock layers in Denmark were formed during the Cretaceous period. Along the Limfjord, from Aalborg towards the east, there is a lot of evidence of chalk formations created during this period, in the form of several hills
This part of the Limfjord is very narrow because it was formed by ice cutting down through these hard layers of chalk.
One of these chalk hills, Lindholm Hoje, rises on the north side of the Limfjord, just opposite the present-day city of Aalborg. This is where the Limfjord is at its narrowest. The hill rises to 42 metres above sea level, giving its former inhabitants an excellent view over the fjord. No enemy, therefore, was able to approach the hill by way of the fjord without the inhabitants knowing. Another good reason for living on a hill was that the soil there was drier than the soil in the surrounding low-lying areas. This made it easier to cultivate. Finally, the area round Lindholm was used as a crossing between northern Jutland and the mainland.
From 400 - 500 AD, the hill was used as a settlement and burial ground. So far two villages, one to the south and one to the north, have been excavated at Lindholm Hoje. The northern village dates from the period 700 -900 AD and consists of some houses, fences, five wells and a road. It is assumed that this settlement was inhabited by approximately six families, each consisting of ten to fifteen family members. The houses were about 15 - 20 metres long and 6 - 7 metres wide. The people lived at one end of the house and the animals lived at the other. As well as these houses, another kind of building was common. These were not for living in but for working in. These buildings were quite small. They were only 3 - 5 metres long and 2 - 4 metres wide. Their floors were dug 1 metre into the ground. In these buildings, spinning and weaving took place. The southern settlement dates from the period 1000 - 1150 AD and consists of similar long and short buildings. This settlement was actually the last settlement on Lindholm Hoje. Both settlements moved around on the hill as was the custom in those days.
At the beginning of the Viking period, 80 -90% of Denmark was covered in forest. During this time, lots and lots of trees were cut down to make wells, houses, roads, ships and so on. As a result, the land in the western part of Jutland became exposed to the rough westerly wind, thus ruining the soil. Vast amounts of sand soon covered the land. Lindholm Hoje was covered by several metres of sand, sometimes up to 4 metres thick. This wasn't removed until the 1950's, when archaeologists excavated the area
In the Viking Age, it was possible to cross the Limfjord only at Lindholm Hoje or at Aggersborg (Aggersund) because of large areas of wet-land on the banks of the Limfjord. Also at the time, the fjord opened out on to the North Sea, so it formed an important route-way for the Vikings to England, Scotland and Norway. Transport on land was possible by way of Haervejen, the road along the spine of Jutland.
The Vikings traded in luxury goods as well as goods for everyday use. Some of the luxury goods were things like wine, silver, coins and weapons. These were for the use of the upper classes, and were brought from overseas by ship. For everyday use, things like soapstone pots from Norway were imported. Lindholm Hoje, however, was not a large commercial centre. Excavations in Sebbersund, southwest of Lindholm, show that this also was a commercial centre.
Lindholm is one of the main ancient monuments of the late
prehistoric period in Denmark. It is an impressive sight with its
700 or so graves, most of which are marked by stones placed in
the form of a triangle, an oval or a ship. The dead person was
usually cremated. This is the reason that only a few things are
found in the graves, things such as weapons, earthenware vessels,
whorls, whetstones, buckles, pearls, arm-rings and rivets. The
different shapes on the graves tell us the sex of the person who
was buried there. Female graves were often marked with an oval or
a square of stones. Male graves were marked with a ship or a
triangle of stones. We can tell this from the things that were
found in the graves. For example, pearls, combs and toilet
articles were found in the female graves and weapons, buckles and
rivets in the male graves.
In about 1200 AD, the hill was abandoned. One of the main reasons for this was the drifting of sand from the western coasts.