The Medieval Towers on the Island of Gotland


  • Martin Hansson Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University


This paper discusses early medieval stone towers on Gotland. It summarizes the scholarly interpretations of their functions and dating, and analysis the towers in different spatial settings; towers at farmsteads, at churches and at harbours. Generally, we should see the towers on Gotland as concrete symbols of the presences of different types of elite. The towers at churches and farms reflects the presence of wealthy tradesmen and farmers that for security reasons fortified their farmsteads. In some cases, this included the local church, which was built beside the tower. In other cases they were built by a group of local elite families, in order to serve a more common function. This was most likely the case with the towers at harbours. While the former towers gives a more private and defensive impression, the latter must be seen as more offensive and public. The closed architecture, with few openings, entrances on the second floor, loopholes and crenelated walls clearly shows that the towers were connected to the martial side of medieval society.