Viking Age sites

Viking Ship Museum

The main attractions at the Viking Ship Museum are the Oseberg ship, Gokstad ship and Tune ship. Additionally, the Viking Age display includes sledges, beds, a horse cart, wood carving, tent components, buckets and other grave goods. Many fully or nearly fully intact Viking ships are on display. Its most famous ship is the completely whole Oseberg ship. In 1913, Swedish professor Gabriel Gustafson proposed a specific bui ...
Founded: 1926 | Location: Oslo, Norway

L'Anse aux Meadows

At the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula of the island of Newfoundland, the remains of an 11th-century Viking settlement are evidence of the first European presence in North America. The excavated remains of wood-framed peat-turf buildings are similar to those found in Norse Greenland and Iceland. Dating to around the year 1000 (carbon dating estimate 990-1050 CE), L'Anse aux Meadows is the only site widely accepted as ...
Founded: 950-1050 AD | Location: Newfoundland, Canada

Viking Ship Museum

The Viking Ship Museum (Vikingeskibsmuseet) is the Danish national museum for ships, seafaring and boatbuilding in the prehistoric and medieval period. Around the year 1070, five Viking ships were deliberately sunk at Skuldelev in Roskilde Fjord in order to block the most important fairway and to protect Roskilde from enemy attack from the sea. These ships, later known as the Skuldelev ships, were excavated in 1962. They ...
Founded: | Location: Roskilde, Denmark

Birka

During the Viking Age, Birka was an important trading center. 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. Generally regarded as Sweden's oldest town, Birka (along with Hovgården) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site ...
Founded: ca. 750 AD | Location: Adelsö, Sweden

Søndre Hella

At Søndre Hella is a restored burial ground with over 20 graves from the Late Iron Ages, ca. 500-1000 AD.
Founded: 500-1000 AD | Location: Nøtterøy, Norway

Lejre

Lejre was the capital of an Iron Age kingdom sometimes referred to as the Lejre Kingdom. According to early legends, this was ruled by kings of the Skjöldung dynasty, predecessors of the kings of medieval Denmark. Legends of the kings of Lejre are known from a number of medieval sources, including the twelfth-century Gesta Danorum written by Saxo Grammaticus and the anonymous twelfth-century Chronicon Lethrense, or Chron ...
Founded: 550 - 1000 AD | Location: Lejre, Denmark

Trelleborg

The Trelleborg near Slagelse is one of the five of six Viking ring castles in Denmark. Similar to the other Viking ring castles found so far, the Trelleborg at Slagelse was designed as an exact circle with two roads that crossed at right angles in the geometric center and led to the four gates with two always opposite to each other. In each of the four quarters stood four almost identical longhouses arranged in a square. ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Slagelse, Denmark

Munkholmen Fortress

Munkholmen is an islet which has served as a place of execution, a monastery, a fortress, prison, and a World War II anti-aircraft gun station. In the years prior to the founding of the city of Trondheim in 997 by Viking King Olav Tryggvason, Munkholmen was used as an execution site by the Jarls of Lade. The arrival of Olav Tryggvason to Norway in 995 coincided with a revolt against Haakon Sigurdsson, who was killed by T ...
Founded: 1658 | Location: Trondheim, Norway

Jelling Runestones

The Jelling stones are massive carved runestones from the 10th century, found at the town of Jelling in Denmark. The older of the two Jelling stones was raised by King Gorm the Old in memory of his wife Thyra. The larger of the two stones was raised by King Gorm's son, Harald Bluetooth in memory of his parents, celebrating his conquest of Denmark and Norway, and his conversion of the Danes to Christianity. The runic inscr ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Jelling, Denmark

Lofotr Viking Museum

The Lofotr Viking Museum is a historical museum based on a reconstruction and archaeological excavation of a Viking chieftain"s village on the island of Vestvågøya. In 1983, archaeologists uncovered the Chieftain House at Borg, a large Viking Era building believed to have been already established around the year 500 AD. A joint Scandinavian research project was conducted at Borg from 1986 until 1989. Exc ...
Founded: 500 - 950 AD | Location: Vestvågøy, Norway

Fyrkat

Fyrkat might be the oldest of Denmark"s former Viking ring castles. It is built on a narrow piece of land with a river on one side and swampy area on the others. It could have controlled the traffic on the main land route between Alborg and Aarhus. Like the other forts at Aggersborg or Trelleborg near Slagelse it is designed as exact circle with four gates opposite to each other and connected by two wooden roads that ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Hobro, Denmark

Brough of Birsay

A tidal island off the north coast of the Orkney mainland, the Brough of Birsay was intensively settled from the 7th to the 13th centuries AD. The physical remains comprise a 9th-century Viking-Age settlement and 12th-century monastery, together with traces of an earlier Pictish settlement of the 7th and 8th centuries. The buildings and artefacts discovered make the brough one of the most important, and attractive, monume ...
Founded: 7th century AD | Location: Orkney, United Kingdom

Kaupang

Kaupang was a Norse term for market-place. Today, it is generally used as a name of the first town-like market-place in Norway, the Kaupang in Skiringssal, which is located in Tjølling near Larvik. Kaupang was an important merchant and craft center during the Viking period and as yet the first known Norwegian trading outpost. Kaupang was founded in the 780s and abandoned for unknown reasons in the early 10th centu ...
Founded: 780 AD | Location: Larvik, Norway

Borre Mounds

Borre mound cemetery (Borrehaugene) is an exceptional large area of burial mounds in Scandinavia. Today, seven large mounds and one cairn can be seen. At least two mounds and one cairn have been destroyed in modern times. There are also 25 smaller cairns and the cemetery may have been larger. Some of the monuments are over 45m in diameter and up to 6m high. Borrehaugene provides important historical knowledge and can be s ...
Founded: 600-900 AD | Location: Borre, Norway

Hedeby

Hedeby is the Southernmost Nordic town, and played an important role as a key trading center in the viking age. It is at the crossroads of the Slien Fjord and the Baltic Sea to the East, streams that led to the Atlantic running close by to the West and the main land route, the Army Road running along the Jutland high ridge up along the Eastern side of Jutland. The city area is surrounded by a 1300 meter long city wall in ...
Founded: c. 770 AD | Location: Schleswig, Germany

Tønsberg Castle Ruins

Dating in 871, Tønsberg is commonly believed to have been the oldest Norwegian town and one of the oldest recorded fortified locations in Norway. According to Snorri Sturluson, Tønsberg was founded before the Battle of Hafrsfjord under which King Harald I of Norway united Norway under his rule. Tønsberg was an important trading center and site of Haugathing, the Thing (assembly) for Vestfold and one of Norway's most im ...
Founded: 871 AD | Location: Tønsberg, Norway

Lindholm Høje

Lindholm Høje (Lindholm Hills) is a major Viking burial site and former settlement situated to the north of and overlooking the city of Aalborg. The southern (lower) part of Lindholm Høje dates to 1000 – 1050 AD, the Viking Age, while the northern (higher) part is significantly earlier, dating back to the 5th century AD. An unknown number of rocks were removed from the site over the centuries, many, fo ...
Founded: 400 - 1050 AD | Location: Nørresundby, Denmark

Nonnebakken

Nonnebakken (literally, "Nun Hill") is the site of one of Denmark's six former Viking ring castles, built during the reign of Sweyn Forkbeard, who had forced his father Harold Bluetooth to leave the country and seek refuge by the Jomsvikingson Wollin (modern Poland) around 975. The fort enabled its occupier command of the Odense River passing next to the hill. The name refers to the Benedictine Nunnery located on the site ...
Founded: 975 AD | Location: Odense, Denmark

Oseberghaugen

Oseberghaugen is a Viking era burial mound. The Oseberg ship was found in the Oseberg burial mound in 1904. This Viking longship is now in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. Archaeological excavations in 1904 uncovered history"s largest and richest example of craftmanship from the Viking Age. In addition to the Oseberg ship, Oseberghaugen contained the Oseberg carriage, five beautifully carved bed-posts shaped like anim ...
Founded: 834 AD | Location: Tønsberg, Norway

Western Settlement

The Western Settlement (Vestribyggð) was a group of farms and communities established by Norsemen from Iceland around AD 985 in medieval Greenland. Despite its name, the Western Settlement was more north than west of its companion and located at the head of the long Nuup Kangerlua fjord (inland from Nuuk, the present Greenlandic capital). At its peak, the Western Settlement probably had about 1,000 inhabitants, about ...
Founded: 985 AD | Location: Western Settlement, Greenland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy's most lavish country retreat: during Spain's Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer's house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King's Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince's Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King's Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince's Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI's old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette's gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.