In 2010-2014 the State Archaeological Department of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany and the Museum Sønderjylland – Arkæologi Haderslev in Denmark carried out transnational excavations at the Danevirke, a more than 30km long system of earthworks, palisades and stone walls in the Danish-German borderland. These have led to important new findings, which include i.a. the discovery of the site of a gateway, where major transport routes converged for at least 500 years. Furthermore C14 – dates indicate that the origins of the Danevirke date to before AD 500, making it more than 200 years older than previously thought.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle poem on the ‘Redemption of the Five Boroughs’ for the year 942 celebrates King Edmund’s conquest of Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Lincoln, Stamford, which brought back under Wessex what had been lost to Óláfr Guðfriðarson and thus restored the geographical borders of the realm. The 13 lines of the Chronicle poem are overburdened with toponyms and ethnonyms, which has prompted scholars to suggest that its main function is mnemonic. However comparison with skaldic drápur points to a communicative aim in the lists of toponyms and ethnonyms, whose function is to mark the restoration of the boundaries epitomizing the historical significance of Edmund’s victory. As in skaldic drápur, the function of the Chronicle poem is to glorify the ruler by formally reconstructing the borders of his realm.
In the Middle Ages, territorial control was one of the most important aspects to guard lands and kingdoms. Hence, the construction of defensive structures, such as castles and watchtowers, played a decisive role to protect the realms against possible military actions. However, the data and information provided by the siege’s narrative sources were not enough to understand how it worked. In order to face this situation, interdisciplinary studies were needed, especially landscape studies through Geographic Information Systems (GIS). To corroborate the viability of this proposal, we have analyzed the visual control from the castle of Alcalá la Vieja – situated in Alcalá de Henares, in Madrid, Spain – to understand its capacity to control the territory.