1000-year-old toolbox found in a Viking fortress in Denmark

Viking toolbox found during excavations in the Viking fortress at Borgring, Denmark, was carefully examined and extracted in laboratory conditions. It revealed an extraordinary set of iron hand tools that may have been used to make Viking ships and houses.

Careful excavation of the toolbox (by Danish Castle Center via Live Science)
Careful excavation of the toolbox (by Danish Castle Center via Live Science)

The mysterious object was found this summer during excavations of the ring-shaped fortress at Borgring, on the island of Zealand. The famed 10th-century Danish king Harald Bluetooth is thought to have ordered the construction of the fortress.

The Borgring Viking ringfort (by Danish Castle Center via Live Science)
The Borgring Viking ringfort (by Danish Castle Center via Live Science)

Archaeologists found at least 14 iron tools inside a single deposit discovered  within a gatehouse building of the fortress. According to the researchers only traces remain of the wooden chest that once held the tools.

Excavations at Borgring(by Danish Castle Center via Live Science)
Excavations at Borgring(by Danish Castle Center via Live Science)

According to the experts, this is the first time an entire set of tools has been discovered in a Viking workplace. Not many tools are found in Scandinavia, but the others found before this have all been left for the gods, by being put down in a swamp

The Viking toolbox (by Danish Castle Center via Live Science)
The Viking toolbox (by Danish Castle Center via Live Science)

The cache of iron tools was first located by amateur archaeologists using a metal detector near the eastern gate of the buried fortress at Borgring. Archaeologists removed the deposit of earth containing all the tools in one piece in a delicate process that took two days. The lump of earth was transported to the local hospital where it underwent computed tomography to reveal what it contained. The CT scans revealed the precise arrangement of at least 14 iron tools, which have since been excavated from the toolbox deposit for individual X-ray studies and preservation before they are put on display

X-ray image of the Viking toolbox (by Danish Castle Center via Live Science)
X-ray image of the Viking toolbox (by Danish Castle Center via Live Science)

The experts are still studying the heavily rusted objects, but they’ve already identified several sophisticated hand tools and other metal items. Among them is a set of “spoon drills” that were used to make holes in timber, an object that looks like a pair of tweezers or small pliers, a “clink nail” used to fasten wooden planks together, four carefully crafted chain links attached to an iron ring, and a drawplate to make metal wires that may have been used in jewellery.

Tools extracted from the toolbox (by Danish Castle Center via Live Science)
Tools extracted from the toolbox (by Danish Castle Center via Live Science)

The remains of houses and human graves have been found at other Viking ring forts, but the toolbox is the first direct evidence of human habitation at Borgring itself. Archaeologists think the ringed-shaped fort and four others like it were built by the Danish king Harald Bluetooth around A.D. 980, as military outposts to enforce his rule as he introduced Christianity into Denmark and parts of Sweden and Norway.

(after Live Science & Danish Castle Center)

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