Jomsborg or Jómsborg (German: Jomsburg) was a semi-legendary Viking stronghold at the southern coast of the Baltic Sea (medieval Wendland, modern Pomerania), that existed between the 960s and 1043. Its inhabitants were known as Jomsvikings. Jomsborg's exact location, or its existence, has not yet been established, though it is often maintained that Jomsborg was somewhere on the islands of the Oder estuary. Lauritz Weibull dismissed it as a legend.
Jomsborg is often thought to be identical with the present-day town of Wolin (also Wollin) on the southeastern tip of the isle of Wolin, probably located at Silberberg hill north of the town. In the Early Middle Ages, modern Wolin was the site of a multi-ethnic emporium (then known as Jumne or Julin). The Nordic sagas use "Jómsborg" exclusively, while medieval German histories use "Jumne" or "Julin", with the alternate names, some of which may be spelling variants, "vimne", "uimne", "Jumneta", "Juminem", "Julinum", "uineta", "Vineta" and "Vinneta".
In 1931/32, Pomeranian historian Adolf Hofmeister (1883-1956) suggested, through comparison of the events reported by the different chronicles, that all these terms describe the same place, which is at or near the modern town of Wolin. However, this is by no means universally accepted; Professor and historian Steven Fanning writes: "The Trelleborg-type fortresses of Denmark have been taken to be actual examples of Jómsborg-style camps of such warriors and Wolin in Poland was believed to be the actual Jómsborg. However, all such attempts to locate Jómsborg or encampments of the Jómvikings have failed, leading many to doubt that Jómvikings ever existed outside of literature." According to Władysław Filipowiak there are several dated sources which attest to the presence of a company of armed Vikings at the end of the 10th century in Wolin, who may have been installed there as mercenaries by the Polish king Bolesław Chrobry.
Other theories see Jomsborg in the northwest of nearby Usedom island, on lands now submerged. The small islands in this area are remnants of a long stretch of land between Usedom and Rügen, which fell victim to storm floods in the early 14th century. Suspected locations in this area are the Veritas grounds between the petty islands of Ruden and Greifswalder Oie, and the Peenemünde shoals. While Viking Age jewelry has been found at the site, archaeological evaluation of these theories has not yet been possible.
According to the Knytlingasaga and Fagrskinna, Jomsborg was built by the Danish king Harold Bluetooth (910-985/86) in the 960s. The Jomsvikinga Saga mentions Danish Viking Palnatoki as its founder.
In medieval records, Jomsborg is described as a fortress with a harbour. The harbour was overseen by a stone tower mounted with catapults, built on an arch spanning over the harbour entrance which could be closed by an iron gate. According to the oldest records, the harbour had space for three ships, later records give a capacity of up to 360 ships.
The Jomsborg Vikings (Jomsvikings) were composed of selected warriors, adhered to a special codex, and were loyal only to their leader. Most records list as jarl of Jomsborg, Sigvald(i), son of petty king Strut-Harald of then Danish Scania. Sigvald died some time before 1010. In 1009, many Jomsvikings left Jomsborg and followed Sigvald's brothers Herring and Thorkell the Tall to England, where they became the nucleus of Cnut the Great's Thingmen or Huscarls.
The Curmsun Disc
A golden disc bearing the name of Harald Bluetooth and Jomsborg appeared in Sweden in autumn 2014. The disc, also called the Curmsun Disc, is made of high gold content and has a weight of 25,23 gram. On the obverse there is a Latin inscription and on the reverse there is a Latin cross with four dots surrounded by an octagonal ridge. The inscription reads: "+ARALD CVRMSVN+REX AD TANER+SCON+JVMN+CIV ALDIN+" and translates as "Harald Gormsson king of Danes, Scania, Jomsborg, town Aldinburg".
It is assumed that the disc was a part of a Viking hoard found in 1840 in the Polish village Wiejkowo near the town of Wolin. The disc was rediscovered in 2014 by an eleven year old schoolgirl who found it in an old casket and then brought it to school.
According to a theory in an article in the magazine Siden Saxo (No. 4-2015) written by Danish editor and archivist Steffen Harpsøe the disc may have been created around year 1100 as a symbolic ornament by missionaries around Jomsborg and Wiejkowo. There is a possibility that the missionaries canonized Harald Bluetooth according to the theory in the article. S. Harpsøe assumes that the letter J in the inscription JVMN is a real J and not the letter I and that the inscription "JVMN CIV ALDIN" should be interpreted as “Jomsborg in the bishopric Oldenburg”. These assumptions result in a dating interval of the Curmsun Disc between 1050-1125 as the letter J does not exist in written language before it shows up in Middle High German by year 1050 and as Jomsborg became an own bishopric in 1125.
- Harold Bluetooth died at Jomsborg in 985/86.
- Styrbjörn the Strong of Sweden and a force of Jomsvikings departed from Jomsborg to reclaim the Swedish throne from Eric the Victorious, yet were defeated in Fyrisvellir near Gamla Uppsala in the late 980s.
- Sweyn Forkbeard and a force of Jomsvikings departed from Jomsborg to eliminate jarl Haakon Sigurdsson of Norway, but were defeated in the Battle of Hjörungavágr (~990).
- Olaf I of Norway and a Jomsviking contingent departed from Jomsborg for the Battle of Svolder in 999 or 1000 AD.
- T. D. Kendrick, A History of the Vikings, Courier Dover Publications, 2004, pp.179ff, ISBN 978-0-486-43396-7
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- H. Jakobsson, Skolarbete ledde till unikt guldfynd, Skånska Dagbladet, November 11, 2014
- The Curmsun Disc - Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy analysis
- S. Harpsøe, Haraldsguldet – en mystisk guldskive fra fortiden, Siden Saxo No. 4 - 2015, Odense: Syddansk Universitetsforlag, ISSN 0109-6028, pp. 25-27
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- Eddison, E. R. (2011) Styrbiorn the Strong (University of Minnesota Press) ISBN 978-0816677559
- Halldórsson, Ólafur (2000) Danish Kings and the Jomsvikings in the Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason (Viking Society for Northern Research) ISBN 978-0-903521-47-5
- Hollander, Lee M. (1989) The Saga of the Jomsvikings (University of Texas Press) ISBN 978-0-292776-23-4
- Jones, Gwyn (2001) A History of the Vikings (2d ed.) (Oxford University Press) ISBN 978-0-192801-34-0
- Kunkel, Otto.; Karl A. Wilde (1941) Jumne, Vineta, Jomsburg, Julin, Wollin (Stettin: Landesmuseum)
- Schmidt, Roderich (2009) Das historische Pommern. Personen, Orte, Ereignisse (Böhlau Verlag) ISBN 978-3-412278-05-2