Centre of Viking culture

700 – 1100.

Some 1,000 years ago, Halland was relatively densely populated. This made the Halland region one of the strongest and most central Viking strongholds in the whole of Scandinavia. Around Halmstad, there are many remnants of Viking settlements.

However, as we were part of Denmark at that time, Halland’s Viking days tend to have been omitted from Swedish history. Nonetheless, we know that Halland’s forests and iron supplied the Danes with ships and weapons. Vikings from this region also made up a large part of the forces when the Danes launched their pillaging raids westwards.

The Battle of Nissan, 1062

Halland’s central position between Sweden, Norway and Denmark made Halmstad a natural meeting and trading place in the Viking era. Those days saw both peaceful activity and war. Sven Estridsen, king of Denmark, and Harald Hårdråde, king of Norway, were bitter enemies.

In the afternoon of the 9th of August 1062, Halmstad witnessed the battle of Nissan, one of the Nordic countries’ largest sea battles of the Viking period. The stories say that the Danish force comprised 300 Viking ships. This lined up against a Norwegian fleet of only 150 vessels.

As was normal for Viking sea battles, action began with both sides drawing their own ships alongside each other and tying them together to form a floating war platform. On this seesawing stage, the Vikings then fought to the death with swords, axes and bows. The aim was to overwhelm the enemy and cut the opposing ships loose so that battle formations were shattered and the warriors could be thrown overboard. This bloody battle continued well into the night and, against all odds, finished with the taking of the Danish king’s ship. Sven Estridsen managed to escape to land alone. Here, he was helped by a farmer, “Karl of Söndrum”. Still at sea, the Norwegians were roaring their victory with the ever ambitious King Harald Hårdråde at their head.

Take a walk along Prince Bertil’s trail. Pause at Örnnäsudden and imagine the Viking battle with 450 ships a little way out to sea!

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