Viking Island Marathon

20 May 2023

In the footsteps of the Bornholm Vikings

Bornholm was home to the viking tribe of the Bourghs, an especially brutal and successful tribe who spread terror and fear in the entire Baltic Sea region, and brought back enormous treasures - some of which are still to be found according to local legend...
21 May | 6 hours | 75 EUR

Numerous gold- and silver treasures have been found in the ground on Bornholm - actually more treasures than anywhere else in the Baltic Sea region. This indicates that the inhabitants of this island throughout time have been skilled merchants and not least fierce raiders, who obviously needed to defend and hide their riches. The vikings of Bornholm had a reputation of being inhospitable, and fearless swordsmen from whom it was best to stay away.

We start our excursion today a little longer back in time though. Our first stop will be at the famous petroglyphs on Madsebakke in Allinge. These rock carvings of ships and sun signs dating back approximately 5000 years clearly show the importance and development of navigation thousands of years before the viking ages.

From Madsebakke we jump to the end of the viking ages, as our next stop will be at Østerlars round church. It is the largest and most famous of Bornholm's four round churches and most likely the oldest of them with experts believing it was constructed around year 1050, roughly 100 years after the great viking king Harald Bluetooth, who united the Danish Kingdom, had introduced Christianity.
The round churches also functioned as fortifications with parapets, which was only covered by the present day cone roofs some 500 years later.
At Østerlars we can also see two runic stones indicating that Østerlars was indeed constructed by the vikings as a fortress before it also became a church.

Our next stop is in Risen Forest, which has an impressive profusion of flowers in the spring. Here we find Bornholms best kept viking graves with more than 10 excavated "stone coffins" - raised flat rocks indicating the burial site. The area also holds menhirs.

Given the fact that there was a marathon and half marathon on yesterday it must be assumed that most of us by this time think more about or stomachs than about vikings... Hence we drive to the nearby Fru Petersens Café where we have a lunch reservation. At Fru Petersens there will be amble opportunity to re-fuel on one of the two buffets offered - a classic Danish lunch buffet or the big cake buffet. The lunch is included* in the excursion, but you can only eat from one of the buffet's, no mixing, so choose carefully before you start.
*Beverages at own expense.

With full stomachs we head for the last stop of our excursion - Almindingen, Bornholms largest forest. Here we find Lilleborg and Gamleborg. Remnants of two viking strongholds.
Gamleborg dates back to year 750 and with its position in the middle of the island it is assumed that it was initially meant as a place of refuge in case of invasion. Later findings on the site, however, suggests that the place, for a period of time, was the site of the islands main castle and the seat of the local king. Written sources documents that Bornholm had its own king in the late 800's and early 900's until it was subordinated to the Danish Kingdom by Harald Bluetooth during the second half of the 900's.
Gamleborg was abandoned and substituted by a smaller, but much better castle - Lilleborg. Located on a 16 meter high cliff and surrounded by water it functioned as the seat of the bailiff. In a dispute with the church in the 13th century, however, the church was destroyed by the Archbishop, but the ruins are fairly well-kept and idyllicly surrounded by lake and forest. 

We will be back at our hotel in the afternoon and will have some hours to relax before going for the celebration dinner later this evening.

  • About the Tour

    Duration: 6 hours

    Departures: 09:00 


    - Bus transportation
    - Local guide
    - Lunch (beverages at own cost)