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Viking Age Shipyard Discovered

Archaeologists from Stockholm University discovered the remains of a Viking Age shipyard, while excavating at Birka, known as Sweden’s first town. The find sheds light on the organization of the Viking’s maritime activities and challenges previous theories.

Replica viking boat at Birka, Sweden
Replica Viking boat at Birka. By Sven Isaksson | Stockholm University’s Archaeological Research Laboratory

Established during the mid-8th century C.E., Birka is one of the best examples of city-like trading posts set up by Vikings for long-distance maritime trade. Located on the present-day island of Björkö, the ancient site, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, would have been a major trading hub for merchants and tradesmen across Europe.

The recently discovered site consists of a stone-lined depression along what had been the shore at that time, and a series of wooden slides for launching boats. Finds include large quantities of both unused and used boat rivets, whetstones made from slate, and woodworking tools.

“A site like this has never been found before, it is the first of its kind, but the finds convincingly show that it was a shipyard,” says Sven Isaksson, Professor of Archeological Science at Stockholm University, and project lead.

“The finds of artifacts from the area shows with great clarity that this is where people have served their ships,” he added. The team plans to continue excavating and analyzing fragmentary source materials at Birka to better understand the maritime cultural landscape.

Birka has long been a treasure trove of insight into the Viking Age. Here's an informative 2 minute video if you would like to learn more.



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