The Middle Ages gave the people of Gotland a lot of advantages compared to other people around the Baltic Sea with its central position. The town of Visby became an attractive goal for people with other intentions than trading for hundred of years. As mentioned earlier, a lot of traders from other countries settled in the town.
Around 1250, the city of Visby began to build a 6 meters high wall, but at that time it had only 4 large towers in strategic locations. The oldest part now called the "Kruttornet" (Gunpowder Tower), which was built in 1166. But many reasons gave citizens thoughts about something bigger, and they were rich.
The war 1288 between the citiziens of Visby, supported by the Germans, and the people on the countryside, supported by knights from Estonia, gave the citizens of Visby a reason to continue the work with the wall. This time the enlargement gave them an 11 meters high city wall with towers. And between the big towers of defence the citizens of Visby even built sadeltowers hanging upon the wall. All together the city wall became 3,4 km, and the last big strengening was made in the 1350s and the following decades to make the city wall stronger and 3-4 meters higher. Paradoxically, it was the parishs of the countryside that had to build the big towers. If one parish was small, they could do the build together with other parishes.
The wall had 29 big ground-towers, you can still see 27 of the towers today, completed with 22 sadeltowers. Of the later ones, only 9 are still intact.
The towers had 3 or 4 floors where the soldiers could fight from, and on the backside of the city wall the towers were connected with scaffolds made of wood.
Remarkably the strongest part of the city wall is built as defence against the farmers of Gotland, and not from attacks towards the sea. The wall on the land side is also built with a more
modern technology than the early wall construction of the lake side. They have not been so careful with the choice of boulders. What you can also see today is that the lake side 1.4 km long
wall has sunk due to it being built on sand gravel.
have been found outside the city wall. The invasion of Gotland by Valdemar Atterdag started with a battle during 2 days in Mästerby where about 800 peasents were killed.
No graves have been found yet, but lots of objects suggest a battle. And it ended with a battle just outside the city wall the year 1361. The place is named
Korsbetningen. One of the mass-graves is saved for future excavations. You can read more about it by using "Battle of Visby"" in the menu.
A copy of an armor made of leather and plates of iron. Different models were found in the mass graves outside the city wall, many of the armors (about 50) have been reproduced by Margareta and Göran Hoas, Västerhejde. Many of the models can be seen at the Museum of Gotland in Visby. There is also a big model of how Visby looked like during The Medieval Times.
Author: Göran Smitterlau
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