Eketorp Fortress – making history today

Eketorp in the past

Eketorp fortress is one of the 19 ancient fort on Öland, a small island situated on the south east coast of Sweden. Just like today there were many connections between people on Öland and others around the Baltic Sea and the Continent. The very first fortress at Eketorp was built in the Iron Age, 4th Century A.D. and served as a place of shelter for the surrounding villages. It was also a place where people gathered and took part in religious ceremonies. Times were turbulent with enemies attacking the island and the people living there were soon in need of a larger fort used as a fortified farmer’s village 400-650 A.D. Then, for unknown reasons, the fortress was abandoned and didn’t come into use again until 1170. At that time it functioned as a medieval military garrison and probably played a role in the struggle for the Swedish Crown between two powerful families. The fort was finally abandoned around 1240.

Eketorp today

Eketorp fortress was excavated 1964-1974. After the excavations, the fort was reconstructed on site. Today you can walk inside the impressive ringwalls to learn more about the people living in Eketorp in the Iron Age and the Middle Ages. Inside the fort there are reconstructed houses from both time periods. There is also a museum where you can look at some of the 26 000 finds from the excavations, including weapons, jewelry, horse equipment, tools and medieval ice-skates.

In spring and autumn, many schools visit Eketorp and take part in Time Travels to the Iron Age or the Middle Ages. In a Time Travel to the Iron Age, 425 A.D., the children meet chieftain Fråråd who rules over Eketorp fort together with his wife Gudrun. The island is under attack and the children are coming from neighboring villages, sent to the fort by their parents to seek shelter. The children take part in the daily chores inside the fort and help to prepare food. They know that there is not space enough inside the fort for everyone and the children are faced with key questions such as how are we going to live together, who is allowed to stay in the fort and who is not, is violence the only solution?

In the summer, a lot of tourists visit Eketorp fort. As visitor, you can join one of the guided tours to learn more about Eketorp and the people who once lived here. You can also participate in a number of activities such as archery, baking your own Iron Age or Medieval bread, textile handicrafts or casting your own amulets. To help re-create the ancient environment you also find domestic animals of Swedish native breeds such as pigs, sheep and chickens, roaming free inside the fortress.

Eketorp in the future

Eketorp fort is part of a large EU-project called Open Gates. Within the project, Eketorp will be able to reconstruct its medieval gate with a mortared gateway and a tower, as well as the medieval central kitchen with a small dininghall. This will give Eketorp the opportunity to develop and enrich the Time Travels and also to offer specific evening-events such as medieval feasts and weddings. In the future, Eketorp fort will hopefully continue to be a place for learning, experimental archaeology and serve as an appreciated tourist destination.

Annette Kronlund Chief operating officer Eketorp fort
Gabriella Johansson Assistent Chief operating officer Eketorp fort