Discover the Viking town of Birka, Sweden
Birka is a Viking Age town that was used in early medieval Sweden as one of the most significant trading posts from the Baltic Sea region. It is located 30 kilometres west of the capital city of Sweden, Stockholm, in Lake Mälaren (historically alternatively known in English as Lake Malar), specifically on the island of Björkö (that can be literally translated as ‘birch island) which pertains to the municipality of Ekerö.
The settlement was established in mid 8th century (sometime during the 750s), being as such the oldest known urban settlement in the Scandinavian peninsula. The town is also mentioned in medieval texts as ‘Birca’.
The town of Birka alongside the site of Hovgården, situated on the nearby island of Adelsö, constitute a major archaeological complex dating back to the early Middle Ages that highlights a series of important trading networks from Viking Age Scandinavia.
In terms of its commercial importance, Birka is known to have been a major trading post in Northern Europe during the Dark Ages which handled goods stemming from Eastern Europe, Central Europe and even from the Middle East. It was a key trading link towards Novgorod, the Byzantine Empire and even the Abbasid Califate.
Archaeological findings on the site of Birka were unearthed as early as the 19th century. Additionally, the settlement is, to date, referred to as Sweden’s oldest town and has been inducted in UNESCO’s global list of World Heritage Site as early as 1993.
Below you can watch a 4 minute footage of the Viking Age town of Birka made by Swedish filmmakers Mikael Agaton and Lars Rengfelt:
- Birka on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- Hovgården on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- Birka – The Viking City on www.stromma.se
- Birka on www.visitstockholm.com
- Birka and Hovgården on www.whc.unesco.org/en
- Birka och Hovgården on www.raa.se (in Swedish)
- Birka – discovering old Viking village on www.worldsheritagetravel.wordpress.com
- Archaeological Prospection Case Study Birka-Hovgården on www.lbi-archpro.org/cs/birka/ (in English)
- Björkö, Ekerö on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- Mälaren on www.wikipedia.org (in English)