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Young woman talking on her mobile phone. Photographer: Anastasia Gepp from Pixabay.

Ancient Vikings: Eketorp's Fortress

Eketorp ancient village. Island of Öland, Sweden. Photographer: Håkan Svensson (Xauxa).

A new study shows a ten-year decrease in adolescence’s psychical health, compared to people above 26 years of age where the same discovery hadn’t occurred. The only difference between the ages groups is the relationship to social media and our phones.

 

Many reports warn of young people’s well-being and the pressure they are currently under from school, out of school activities and more. But that the situation is as bad as it is may be hard to fathom and even the scientists have difficulties in understanding accurately why this has happened. The team behind the study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology indicates that clear behavioural patterns may be the explanation. The study showed that mental health had declined drastically in young people in the last decade, but this was not the case when they looked at humans above 26 years.

National survey on drug use and health are behind the study and have monitored mental issues and drug abuse in teenagers since 1971. They gathered data from over 200 000 teenagers and 400 000 adults. The study showed that clearly young women and men between teens and early adulthood had a high risk of developing severe mental health problems. The risk of depression had increased by 50% in teenagers, and suicidal thoughts followed a similar curve.

The scientists mean that due to the hard data only being shown in adolescences and those of early teens, it is a generational issue and not an increase in mental health issues in society as a whole. The scientist’s main explanation of why young people are unhealthy is the usage of our phones and their effect on our sleep. Adults turned out to switch off their phones more frequently to get more sleep while young people don’t. Teenagers have a need to sleep more hours than adults – 9 hours or more – but studies from Harvard University shows that only 50% of teenagers sleep 8 hours a night.

 

Another factor of young people’s mental health problem says the scientists are that adults have more stable relationships and doesn’t take too much into account what happens on social media.

 

Ivy is 18 and has suffered from depression, she says. “At first I didn’t know what it was. I tried killing myself, but my mom caught me right in time.” I ask her what happened after she tried to commit suicide. “My mom freaked out! She called the emergency hotline and I saw a psychiatrist soon after.” Did it help, I ask. “Yes, it helped a lot. It felt good to talk and I learned to word my feelings instead”. Ivy isn’t her real name as she would like to be anonymous.

 

A UK publication, Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017 [PAS], done by the NHS, shows that 12,8% of 5-19-year-old have at least one mental disorder. The study also showed that mental issues increased with age. Emotional disorders, such as depression, had steadily increased from when data began in 1999. Starting at 4.3% and is up at 5.8% two years ago. Current data show now though that the situation for teenagers and young adults are more severe than what we previously knew.

 

If you feel that your own or your child's mental health isn’t what it used to be, please contact Mental Health UK at https://mentalhealth-uk.org/ for further information and contact details.

 

These are common signs of depression:
Problems at school/work
Drug and alcohol abuse
Low self-esteem
Smartphone addiction
Reckless behaviour
Violence

 

 

The article Are Mobiles Bad for Young Adults? is published on HubPages in their science and psychology section. It was published 11 of June 2020, and can be found here.

As one of the birthplaces of the ancient Vikings, Eketorp’s fortress was an important stronghold during the early civilization. 

 

In the course of Eketorp’s Fortress’ thousand-year use, it was the home of families, soldiers and peasants. It was also a place of rituals and cruel murders.

       The fortress was built in 300 AD on an island just outside Kalmar, Sweden called Öland. It was a stronghold for refugees, and through the course of the Viking’s use, Eketorp’s Fortress became a ritual site. 

      Around 40 000 tourists find their way to Eketorp’s Fortress every year, and unlike some of the previous inhabitants, they’re allowed to leave without losing their life. 

       In the fortress first era Eketorp I, had approximately 187 feet in diameter high wall and inside it circa 20 houses were raised. The houses were built in limestone, and the workers may have had influences from the Roman Empire as they used the old aln measurement to assess their way through construction. No one knows why the fortress was demolished just a hundred years later, to be rebuilt again in 400 AD. 

       Eketorp II luckily was allowed to last until 700AD, when the fortress became a village for farmers. Even this time the construction of the wall was influenced by the Romans with a crenellated battlement, and two of the three gates had a portcullis. Behind the protective wall of limestone lived between 150-200 people with their animals in 53 buildings. The animals who lived there were geese, pigs, cows, sheep, cats and dogs, and the various houses that could be found in the village were human dwellings, storehouses, factories and cattle sheds. The buildings were made with limestone, wood and the roofs were covered with grass. In the middle of the homes was the hearth, it had a dual usage for heat and cooking. The buildings were placed in three blocks along the inside of the fortress’ wall. However, the town square also had buildings. To the west inside the Eketorp’s Fortress, there was a small square which worked as a gathering place for its citizens. In the middle of the square, a few rocks have been found. The archaeologists don’t know what function these rocks may have had in Eketorp II’s history. It’s speculated that it may have been the foundation of a religious object of worship. In Eketorp II, the people worked as farmers, weavers, smiths and artisans, and also, here the oldest Swedish beer brewery has been found.

       To the East, outside the fifteen feet, a high wall was a wetland area from which the inhabitants had their water supply. It was this area which was their place of sacrifice. Horses are mostly found in this wetland. The horse was a holy animal to the early settlers, which was believed to be connected to the gods of prosperity and war. According to foreign visitors of that time, the citizens brought food to the wetland as a sacrifice to the gods.

       For 400 years the fortress was abandoned, but three murders have been discovered amongst the rocks. The bodies were found at the inside of the wall. In one body the dagger was still attached to the chest when the archaeologists found it. 600 AD and onwards it seems as if Eketorp’s Fortress has been used as a district court and a place of sacrifice. 

       At the end of the 12th century the area was inhabited once again, but this time mostly by soldiers. Eketorp III looked like a medieval miniature city with stone streets that led to a square. An outer wall was built, and next to it, the dangerous smiths were built. Throughout this time agriculture had become less relevant and instead, made a place for craftsmanship and trading. Strangely only one of the hundred houses had a fireplace. It’s believed that this kitchen worked as a central kitchen which fed everyone in the village. The kitchen was located next to a well on the inside of the fortress’ great wall.

       Today visitors can step through the wall’s entrance and see the Viking fortress Eketorp. You find ancient dwellings with beds filled with hay and artisans, soldiers and farmers at work. Where the kitchen used to be, in the largest house of the village, is a space now dedicated to the Vikings. To the west of Eketorps’ Fortress, you find the place of sacrifice: the wetland. Today it’s safe to visit all areas, and you can even bring your children to play old-style games, and to reenact as Viking soldiers with bow and arrow, swords and shields.

 

The article Ancient Vikings: Eketorp's Fortress was never published but was written for Explore History Travel into the Past Magazine UK in 2020. The magazine shut down and the article wasn't put to print. Published here as an example for editors, so they can see my work.

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