Saturday, 14 May 2016

Battlefield tourism: Copenhagen

A day in Copenhagen, what better way to spend it than visiting military sites and museums? 

Some time ago I was off doing archival research in Lund and, due to poor planning I had an extra day in Copenhagen. I decided to spend it by walking inspecting the old ramparts of the city, where the Swedish under Karl X Gustav made a failed assault in February 1659. The fortifications at Christianshavn (the outpost at "12 o'clock" in the map below) were still in pretty good condition and I had a look at them from both the ground and by climbing a church tower to survey them from up high (as one does). The 1659 attack aimed at this section was mainly just a diversion, but with the area of the main attacks mostly built up nowadays, this was the best I could aim for.

View towards Christianshavn from a bell tower

1659 defences. The Swedes' main attack was aimed at the bay to the north-east of the city (1.30 o'clock).

A cool playground on the ramparts, which have been turned into a recreational area. I would have loved to play here with my kids!

Southern edge of the Christianshavn defences.

I continued my visit by going to the royal armoury. I was mostly interested in the 17th century stuff and, although most of this section was closed, I was happy to see some of the more rare stuff they had around.

First the "playground cannon" and now this! The Danes have very warlike playgrounds for their kids.

Captured artillery outside the royal arsenal

The Danes seem optimistic about capturing more guns in the future!

Main hall of the armoury

Medieval bombards cast in segments and joined together with hoops.

27 pdr demi-cannon given by Christian IV as a gift to the duke of Oldenburg.

The masterfully cast barrel shows the family tree of the Oldenburgs, including blazons and all!

An exceptionally long culverin called "Strong Samson" (16th - 17th century)

16th cenutry back loading piece (3/4 pound) with a gunshield

Petards (for breaching gates)
50 pound (!) mortars from the 17th century

Portable light mortar (17th century)

Ammo rack for a ship

17th century artillery

Housing to keep match dry (and possibly burning during bad weather)

1933 tank by Vickers

19th century portable bunker

WW2 German Goliath demolition carrier


Finally, I visited the National Museum of Denmark. The museum had a lot of really nice stuff about sacrifices and tombs found from the pre-historic period, but I was a bit disappointed at how small the Viking section was.

Meteoric iron from Greenland that has been used to make tools

A lot of runic stones were on display
Grave offerings c. 900 BC

Shields carried by seaborne raiders c. 350 BC and offered as sacrifice by the victors by sinking them into a bog

Viking gold necklace. Very practical people those Vikings, as the wrought gold could be easily transported and cut off when needed to make payments.

Replica of a Viking chieftain's chest

Axe from a Viking chief's grave

Practical Vikings: a mould for making both Thor's hammer and crucifix pendants at the same time

Full armour manufactured in 1545 in Innsbruck

High-quality hunting guns 16th and 17th centuries


Danish cavalry armour from the  early 17th century

Cuirassiers armour from the end of the 16th century

17th century caltrops

Steel storming ladder (which folds!) and a partizan

Details of the hinges of the storming ladder

Details of the partizan

Swedish assault on Copenhagen 1659

15th century pavise

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