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Borgeby Castle

Bluetooth's Borgeby Castle: Destroyed And Rebuilt For 1000 Years

Borgeby Castle in the Scania Country, in southern Sweden, was originally built in around 980 AD by Harald Gormsson (also known as Harald Bluetooth), an early Norwegian and Danish King. The Borgeby Castle site was originally a ringfort and Harald is well known for these types of constructions, called trelleborg, although Borgeby is smaller than the others. It is one of the oldest castles in the area and additions to the original fort were ongoing for centuries.

During the Viking times, waterways were the easiest and fastest transport routes to use and with Borgeby being built on the Kävlinge River, the largest river in Scania, the castle had a strategic advantage and controlled trade along both the river and on land.

The residence of the Archbishop of Lund

Unlike many other ring fortresses , Borgeby remained in use and was replaced piece by piece through the wars and centuries. The castle has had a fierce history. 

King Harald needed fortifications that could accommodate soldiers and act as administrative centers, after uniting the Danish empire and introducing the new religion of Christianity .

Illustration of Borgeby Castle, 1680

Illustration of Borgeby Castle, 1680 ( Public Domain )

The original fortification was surrounded by a moat 32 feet (10m) deep but had a defense wall only 3 feet (1m) wide. During the thirteenth century, a gate tower was built and the walls improved. These buildings still exist today although they have been altered over time and excavations of the courtyard area show that there were once a number of smaller buildings inside the castle area.  In the garden of the castle stands the massive Borgeby Tower. It originates from around 1450 and once contained the private rooms of the Archbishop of Lund. In the past, Borgeby Church was situated inside the wall that surrounded the castle grounds. There was even an underground passage between the church and castle. It remained the Archbishop’s residence until the Danish protestant Reformation in 1536.

The castle was burned down in 1452 by the Swedish king, Karl Knutsson Bonde (King Charles VII) who ruled Sweden three times, having been deposed twice. Excavation findings also suggest was burnt down in the 16th century though there are no official records of this event. This may have been during the farmers' revolt of 1525. In 1658 it was once again burnt down by the Danes when the castle was accommodated by Swedish troops during the Skåne War which took place from 1675 to 1679. It was rebuilt in the early 18th century. During the 18th and at the beginning of the 19th century the castle walls were demolished and the moat levelled and it was no longer a defensive structure.

King Charles VII

King Charles VII ( Public Domain )

Since the castle has been rebuilt several times, dating the buildings has proved difficult. The gate tower that was the main entrance of the castle is thought to be the oldest. 

From defensive structure to artists’ retreat

After the Protestant Reformation, several Danish and Swedish aristocratic families resided at Borgeby Castle. The last noble owner of the castle was Count Carl Wachtmeister. The count was short of money and the castle came under the hammer in 1887 when it was bought by a wealthy farmer from Österlen. He earned bewildered looks from a group of noblemen and was the only one who made a bid during the foreclosure. He transferred the property to his daughter in 1888 and she turned Borgeby Castle into a cultural meeting place for famous artists of her time.

Borgeby Castle is a protected building in Sweden.

Borgeby Castle is a protected building in Sweden. ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )

In 1902 Hanna met the young and promising artist, Ernst Norlind (1877-1952). Together they developed the castle into a cultural center for European intellectuals and artists. Authors, artists and cultural personalities, both Swedish and international, visited and stayed at the castle. 

Hanna and Ernst married 1907 and their son Staffan was born in 1909. When Staffan died prematurely, the castle was passed on to and maintained by the Hanna and Ernst Norlind Foundation. 

The Norlind museum which opened in 1988 is in the multi-story gatehouse of the castle. It houses an extensive art and literature collection as well as a collection by Ernst Norlind himself.

Top image: Borgeby Castle     Source: CC BY-SA 3.0

By Michelle Freson

References

Rosborn, AS. 1984 . The Expression of Borgeby. Fotevikensmuseum

Available at:   https://www.fotevikensmuseum.se/pdf/Borgeby.pdf

2016. Borgeby Castle – A part of your future . Borgeby Slott

Available at: http://www.borgebyslottab.se/om/

2018. Borgeby Kyrka - Historical church near Bjärred . Guidebook Sweden

Available at: https://www.guidebook-sweden.com/en/guidebook/destination/borgeby-kyrka-historical-church-near-bjaerred

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