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’.

Detailed map of the island of Bjorka near Stockholm, highlighting the location of the Viking town of Birka. Image source: www.oocities.org

Detailed map of the island of Björkö near Stockholm, highlighting the location of the Viking town of Birka. Image source: www.oocities.org

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.

A reconstructed Viking Age house in Birka. Image source: www.worldsheritage.travel.wordpress.com

A reconstructed Viking Age house in Birka. Image source: www.worldsheritage.travel.wordpress.com

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.

Artistic depiction of the Viking houses near the docks in Birka. Image source: www.users.stlcc.edu

Artistic depiction of the Viking houses near the docks in Birka. Image source: www.users.stlcc.edu

Below you can watch a 4 minute footage of the Viking Age town of Birka made by Swedish filmmakers Mikael Agaton and Lars Rengfelt:

You can also watch the following Swedish documentary on Birka focusing on the archaeological findings:

Documentation sources and external links:


2 Responses to Discover the Viking town of Birka, Sweden

  1. Constance Jepson says:

    Birkby and Birker Moor in Cumbria. Birks is a common surname.

  2. Walter Fasse says:

    We was there in 2015. It’s a nice resort.

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