Birka Viking Town
Björkö island, Ekerö (Stockholm county), SWEDEN
Björkö ("Birch Island" in Swedish language), one of the islands in Ekerö municipality (Stockholm county), is located in Lake Mälaren, in eastern-central Sweden, and is worldwide famous for housing the excavation site Birka, an ancient Viking town which was populated c. 750-975 AD and is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Established in the middle of the 8th century, thus being one of the earliest urban settlements in Scandinavia, Birka was the Baltic link in the river and portage route through Ladoga (Aldeigja) and Novgorod (Holmsgard), in today Russia, to the Byzantine Empire and the Abbasid Califate. For 200 years Birka was an important trading centre for the Vikings. The exact location of Birka was lost over centuries, leading to many speculations from Swedish historians. In the late 19th century, the island of Björkö, about 30 km west of today Stockholm, came to be identified with ancient Birka.
The archaeological sites of Birka and Hovgården, on the neighbouring island of Adelsö, make up an archaeological complex which illustrates the elaborate trading networks of Viking Scandinavia and their influence on the subsequent history of Europe. The number of artefacts excavated since the 19th century and the density of population are striking and, following the excavations, both islands have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993.
The University of Gotland, which currently continues research at Birka and Hovgården, also co-ordinates the reconstruction project of the Vikingastaden, the Viking town at Björkö. Over half a dozen buildings are under construction as a serious expansion to the indoor exhibition and the outdoor archaeological sites on the island. In summer living historians and interpreters regularly, people the island and they will probably stay in the houses when finally ready and properly furnished.
Info & Contact
location: Björkö island, Lake Mälaren, municipality of Ekerö, Stockholm County, Sweden
Strömma Turism & Sjöfart AB
Address: Svensksundsvägen 17 - 111 49 Stockholm, Sweden
Tel.: +46 8 12 00 40 00
Image: Strömma Turism & Sjöfart AB
Text sources: Strömma Turism & Sjöfart AB
Birka Viking Town and Björkö island on Google Maps:
Exploring the Birka Viking Town:
The following video clips come from footage that Swedish filmmakers Mikael Agaton and Lars Rengfelt shot of a 1:30 scale model of Birka now housed in the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm.
A reportage in the Swedish language: