Middelalderens nordnorske borganlegg

  • Inge Sørgård Norsk Kulturråd
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The medieval castles of Northern Norway

While the medieval castles of Southern Norway were defensive fortifications on what traditionally was considered Norwegian territory, the castles of Northern Norway were frontier fortifications established on foreign territory. The northern part of what is today Troms County and Finnmark County were considered Sami territory before 1200. The Sami people traded with and were taxed by both the Novgorod-supported Karelians and the Norwegians. This led to hostilities between the Karelians and the Norwegians in the 13th century. As part of the manifestation of Norwegian control over Troms County the castle Skansen was con188 structed in the mid-13th century. This ancient looking earth and wood fortification was considered a strong enough defence against the Karelian enemy. During the 14th century the income generated from the stockfish from the coast of Finnmark became increasingly important to the Norwegian King and Vardøhus further east in the County of Finnmark was constructed. Although still quite a weak fortification, this was a more modern castle constructed of stone. We know that in the Southern Norway naval leidang forces used castles as bases for attacks on Denmark in the 13th century, and there is reason to believe that Skansen and Vardøhus were also bases for this medieval naval force.

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