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Divers find ruins from Viking 'marketplace'

Divers find ruins from Viking 'marketplace'

Published: 21 Aug 2012 16:00 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 Aug 2012 16:00 GMT+02:00

Divers off the coast of Birka, an ancient Viking village near Stockholm, have uncovered 100 metre long jetties suggesting a coastal marketplace that was not previously imagined.

The team found that jetties stretching off the coast of the Björkö island were actually significantly longer than they initially believed, and could provide valuable information about the Vikings and their habits.

Andreas Olsson, a marine archaeologist who is heading the international team, was amazed by the find.

“We have found stone piers in deep water and these were rare for this age. Timber, logs and poles as well. Previously, it was not thought that the Vikings could build stone piers at a depth of eight meters,” he told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper (DN), adding that the team is in the process of figuring out how the port might have looked from this information.

The marine archaeologists, who have now estimated that the village was 30 percent bigger than previously imagined, also believe that a marketplace may have been based in the waters of the harbour.

Olsson explained that the jetties, which are five times longer than previously believed, were likely connected with the Vikings extensive trade system, and could indicate that the area was indeed a bustling village.

"The remains of the port structures show that it was actually a port, not just small jetties jutting out onto the beach as previously thought," he said.

"Everyone has ideas about the Viking age. Many of these emphasize the wild, warlike nature of the people, but what we're working on will distinguish the picture. This is great, not least because that age is ever-present in popular culture,” Olsson told the paper.

The village of Birka, which is often considered to be Sweden's oldest town, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.

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Your comments about this article

20:40 August 21, 2012 by dizzymoe33
Very interesting news.
21:36 August 21, 2012 by james_g
"Previously, it was not thought that the Vikings could build stone piers at a depth of eight meters" Obviously the Vikings must have developed submarine longships too. No, seriously - presumably 8m refers to the lake bed/pier foundation level rather than the top surface - so what was the depth of that? And does the 8m refer to the current depth or the depth in Viking times? Scandinavia has risen quite a bit since then (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-glacial_rebound) Fascinating stuff...
21:55 August 21, 2012 by wxman
English, French, Spanish and Dutch explorers were given a lot of (legitimate) credit for their explorations in the 15th Century, but you have to admit that the Vikings of the 9th & 10th Centuries were the pre-eminent explorers in their time. Although, permanent settlement was not their primary objective. Mostly, they were opportunistic plunderers, warriors and traders who traveled throughout the Mediterranian, eastern North America and even the Persian Gulf. Gotta give these guys credit.
03:24 August 22, 2012 by Bushyblondehead
I thought this was common knowledge heard stories of it growin up because of the water depth was lower, or i misunderstood and it is true anyway. Not Viking village but trade port vikings tried to raid many times.
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